Video 1

So what we’ve been doing is probably the most important thing that you can do with digital and that is we’ve been talking about innovation. So innovation is becoming increasingly important. The piece of change in digital is increasing. The financial imperative to innovate is increasing. In order to retain your customers that you’ve already got, you need to innovate. So we’ve been talking about digital innovation.

And what we’re also challenging you to do is to step out of your comfort zone and become the head of digital innovation for your organisation. I think that’s a really important opportunity for us as digital marketers to think beyond our day-to-day and to consider the wider context of what we’re doing in digital, and why that matters to the customer, but also importantly, why it matters to the business too.

So what’s excited me personally, working with somebody like Mike, as the expert, he has 10,000 hours of strategic digital consultancy behind him is, for me, it was really all about, I’m more of a creative person and I am a marketer through a thread. And the bit that I really love and I would really encourage people to embrace on this unit is the design thinking and the innovation thinking, because it really stretches your brain muscle.

It gets you thinking about what you are doing in a completely different way. It forces you to stop thinking about what it is you want to create and why it is you want to create it, and who the customer really is. It really forces you to emphasise and be very customer-centric. And as digital marketers, we all think we’re customer-centric, but I think what this teaches me more than ever is that actually sometimes I’m not. And this process that we’re going through on this unit is actually forcing me to take a good, hard look at how I approach the development of my own work. So, yeah. It’s incredible.

Video 2

So for me, the importance of this is twofold, really. I guess, the most critical thing is that innovation, and particularly digital innovation, is no longer the Wild West that it used to. It used to be pretty unstructured. It used to not be terribly evidence-based. And the thing that has really happened in the last 10 or 15 years is it’s become very structured. There are some tools and techniques and frameworks now that make this a systematic process.

It doesn’t guarantee success. Nothing can guarantee success in terms of innovation. But what it does do is it makes success a lot more likely than it would be if you took an unstructured, intuitive, subjective approach to it. So it really is worthwhile understanding the tried and tested and evolved methods that have been used by thousands of people around the world, thousands of innovators who have made a great deal of money, have done a great deal of good for the world. And using their experience means you don’t have to make the same mistakes they did.

I would echo what Mike’s just said there. And what I would add to it is, is to speak from my own personal experience about coming back into higher education after over 20 years as a marketer. For me, it was about specialisation. It was about demonstrating that I’d reached a point in my career where I was in a position to consult with others, that I had not only the applied knowledge but that I also had the theoretical and the structured frameworks in order to be able to advise clients in a structured and evidence way, and also in an articulate way as well. As Mike just said, the Wild West is done and dusted. So when high-level recruiters today are looking for high-level executives in the realms of digital, what they’re looking for is people that can apply knowledge with evidence and can really structure an argument based on data, data that they have gathered in a primary sense, data that they have gathered in a secondary sense. And therefore, they’re in a position, a much stronger position, to articulate and hold credibility within an organisation. I think that’s really important.

So I really love the expression that if you want something done, ask a busy person. So the key there for me is that busy people tend to have a commitment to do stuff, and they very rarely vacillate, put it off till tomorrow. They typically grasp it, get on with it, and get it done. And I think there’s something really to be said about just making commitment and having a commitment mindset. Because we can all think about stuff, we can all decide tomorrow, we can all put it off, but if you want to actually get stuff done, commit, get on with it.

If I think about my own career and how I’ve taken action, I think it’s kind of probably based on two principles. One is the fact that I’m an extremely curious person, so I’m not one to sit back and leave every stone unturned. And the second one is because I’ve always come from a growth mindset point of view. And there’s a little bit of gut feel thrown in there as well. And I think, when you’re making the decision, if you’re making a decision about coming onto a masters, then you will know, yeah. You will know. You will be a curious person because you’re already looking. You will be open to the possibilities, and that’s where the growth mindset comes in. And then what it comes down to is does this feel right? Is this the right time for me? If it does, do it. Don’t procrastinate. Sign up.

Video 3

I’ve seen students coming into most postgraduate education who have been working really transform. And I don’t know for sure, I’m not going to speak on an evidence basis here, but I think that is about the fact that they mostly have a growth mindset. They’re approaching the learning with a view to absorbing knowledge that they didn’t previously have or enhancing knowledge that they have and taking it to another level. And you can see how they evolve over the course of their studies, moving from taking quite tentative steps to becoming much bolder and more confident and much more articulate in terms of how they approach the problems that they are facing.

So one of the difficulties in the real world of business is that it’s often quite hard to experiment. It’s quite hard to play. It’s quite hard to test ideas. In an educational environment, it’s a great place to experiment. You don’t have to worry about the politics of being wrong or being shown up. You can test things out. And I think the key that I see in students that I’m interacting with is that they broaden the base on which they are confident. So many people come into a qualification like this, where they are quite confident in quite a narrow set of skills. Then they will move from that and they will broaden that set of skills and they will get much more confident about things that they were not previously confident about. And they will therefore be able to tackle much more sophisticated, much more strategic type problems than they were before.

And once you have done quite a lot of experience… I have done quite a lot of consulting in my over my 10,000 hours, and what you tend to find is that you don’t get thrown by the new circumstances that might have thrown me in my 500th hour or 1000th hour. So you build a resilience. You know that there are frameworks and models that I will have used somewhere before that I can reapply to the situation that I currently find myself in, even though I’ve never been quite there before. So having that resilience, I think, is really key and a qualification like this builds and broadens your resilience.

The resilience aspect that Mike’s just talked about is very important, because as you progress in your career, so if you’re coming onto a course like this online digital marketing course, you might be coming at various stages of your career. So you might be going into an early level leadership role, or you might be seeking to really hit the zenith of your career, where you want to take on a very senior role, in which case, whether you’re hitting the zenith or you’re just beginning your journey, a resilient and structured approach to what you would do is what gains you the respect, I think, in business. A level-headed, pragmatic yet creative and innovative approach to what you do is so very valuable.

And when you go through the recruitment process, people see that in you. They see that you are excited about the industry that you’re in. They see that you are a person who has endless curiosity for what they do. They see that you’re a person that wants to apply that in a structured, practical and business-critical way. We don’t go into this world of digital marketing because we haven’t got anything else to do. I hope we do it because, number one, we love people. We need to understand the customer. We need to actually be totally in tune with them. But we also are commercial. We’re not doing this as a throwaway thing. We’re doing this to invest in ourselves. And because we do this, we can then add value to the businesses that we then are recruited by.

I will speak to you all now on a personal level, because this is something that I’ve experienced myself. It was only five years ago that I went back into higher education myself. And that was a very nervous period of time for me. I didn’t know whether I would be able to do it. I did my first degree in the eighties, and so I’d been out of education for 30 years. And so I approached it with some degree of trepidation and a great deal of imposter syndrome around what I wouldn’t be able to do, as opposed to what I could do. But the thing for me, it was the opportunity that it gave me to explore something that I truly, truly was interested in. And it started immediately that I started to learn again. It started to add dimension to the way in which I approached my work. And I was working at that time in a creative agency, in a digital agency.

So pretty much from the get-go, the way in which that I was interfacing with the clients, the way in which I was approaching the problems that they were giving us as an agency to solve, it was already kicking in. And I started to think, well, this is great. It’s giving me new perspective. It’s giving me dimension. It’s giving me the tools of the trade here to really add value in terms of how I approach the client, but also how the agency approaches the client, which ultimately had implications in terms of client retention and satisfaction levels.

I think if I’d been able to go back 10 years, actually, looking at myself and having a word with myself, I might have said, “You know what, Allie? You could have done it sooner.” It’s just that circumstances in the world of work are such that if, like me, you’re an opportunist and you go with the opportunity in your career, that there isn’t always that opportunity at that time to study. So it’s about thinking, not that I should have done it before. Was it the right time to study? Yes, it was. Because for me, the opportunity arose to become a specialist, and becoming a specialist has meant that I can develop my career in a different direction. And I’m hoping that I’m heading now towards the zenith of my career, and long may that continue.

Transformations that I’ve gone through, I think they’re probably too many to count, to be honest. In the expert sessions that I’ve been doing with Allie, we actually go through some of that ancient history that I’ve been through. So I spent about 25 years changing career quite dramatically every five years. And I think that was a great thing to do. And just to give you an indication of the order of magnitude, I started off as a scientist, then I moved into becoming a designer. Then from then I went on to run a research institute. And then after that, I was a professor of design at a higher education college. And then I’ve been a consultant and software entrepreneur more recently. So these are quite big changes.

My regrets, if I have any, is probably that I didn’t do quite a lot of them sooner. And one of the real benefits that I have had as I have moved into this consultancy phase of my life is autonomy and independence. That I am able to do the stuff that interests me, that I don’t actually have to do something because somebody’s told me I have to do it. I get the offers of a job and I go, “Hmm, do I want to do that job? Yeah, I think I want to do that job.” And I’m able to control that, and I’m able to have that independence and autonomy. That is such a luxury in terms of a career.

And I continue to count my blessings that I have had that degree of autonomy, that I don’t have to dance to anyone else’s tune. I sometimes get myself into pretty tricky situations by taking on the wrong consultancy job, but that’s all me. So if there was one thing that I would pinpoint, is get yourself to the stage where you’re building greater autonomy so that you are more in charge of what you’re doing and where your career develops.

Video 4

So women in digital, yeah, I wish that I didn’t have to actually even say that because as we know there are loads and loads of brilliant women in digital, at the forefront of digital, people like Martha Lane Fox inspire me. And the point about being a woman in digital, I think, is why is it any different? Yeah? I suppose the most important thing to think about is if you are working and you have children, and you’re trying to fit your studies around your children then that shouldn’t disadvantage you in any way, because the way that this programme is structured is it gives you that time. So I fully appreciate that when you do have kids that it’s hard to juggle life, children, study. But the way in which this particular course is structured, it allows you to follow the expert sessions, for example, at your own pace.

And of course, we have the followup sessions, which we run at a convenient time. Plus we have the ongoing and the ever-present discourse platform, which allows you to ask questions and dip in and out as and when you want to. So I think my advice to you would be, don’t be put off by that, feel supported by the structure of the programme, the fact that you have people on hand in a virtual environment to support you along the way and to really go for it. Because it might be, for example, you’re getting to the point where your children are about to go to school and you have more time during the day, for example, where you can allocate some time to yourself.

So the women in digital thing, this programme is all about getting more of us into the world of digital. Yeah. There is no prejudice here at all. These are processes, brilliant ways of thinking and working that anyone can apply and anyone can do. And I would just throw that out to you and say, if you think you can’t, you can.

Video 5

So how would I choose which course to study my master’s in digital marketing? It’s a big question. There’s a lot out there to choose from. So first piece of advice I’d give you is do your homework. So much like we’ve been discussing on value proposition here, I’d be looking at the value propositions for different courses and thinking, “So what is the benefit of this one versus this one and this one?” And there are a lot, there are probably 20 or 30 courses, if not more. And if you then look outside of the United Kingdom and think internationally about some of the other universities that are offering online courses, for me, it’s about the value of the content, but also what are they offering me?

I think you need to look at it in terms of your own career development to. Think about what stage of my career am I at? Do these courses that I’m looking at, offer me the opportunity to go into depth into one or more area that I’m really interested in? So do they cover the fundamentals of digital marketing? One would expect to see, for example, things like search engine optimization, use of channels, that sort of thing. But also is it really stretching me as a digital marketer. So is it covering areas such as innovation and contemporary models and theories of innovation? Because as a digital marketer, do I really think that I’m pigeonholing myself just as somebody who only works in search engine optimization? Or do I want to think a little longer term? And I hope that you are if you’re coming onto a masters course. If you’re thinking longer term, then what it’s about is actually expanding your knowledge. So look for the courses that are strongly rooted in digital. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s digital marketing, but they’ll take you to places that you wouldn’t expect to go.

And I probably would say this, wouldn’t I, but for me, it boils down to one thing, business relevance. In digital marketing, in particular, it’s all too easy to talk about the theories and to talk about the models and the frameworks. But that’s not the important bit, the important bit is when the rubber hits the road. What happens when you have to take that framework and you have to really make it work within an organisation? You can think about it, you can write about it, you can even write textbooks about it, but the people who I think are going to benefit you most, are the people who’ve actually done it. Done it for real, done it for business, made it work, made money out of it for their clients. These are the people you want on your masters.

And I agree with Mike. And when I was saying to you to look at the value propositions, make sure that the people who are working on these programmes are the experts. So there should always be an expert paired with an academic and the expert should be somebody like Mike, who is tried and tested beyond all compare and can bring real examples and help to bring that to life because you need to be applying what you learn. So just be careful of that, yeah? And make sure you do your due diligence there and ask those questions if they’re not being answered on the website, for example.