In the last of our special blog postings this week, we've met with David Edmundson-Bird from Manchester Metropolitan University to compile a Q&A. We've really left the best until last this week as we speak to this experienced educator in corporate business. David is responsible for the education of a mass of marketing and digital talent active in the NW, across the UK and beyond. He tells us everything from his biggest dislikes through to what the MMU project "Agency Life" is all about. Enjoy!
Position: Principal Lecturer in Digital Marketing at MMU
Biggest likes:Front 242, Taramasalata
Biggest dislikes:Celebrity Culture
What do you and MMU do that stands out which NW businesses should take note of?
Agency Life: our initiative to create real work experienced graduates to meet the needs of employers who need work-ready staff with degrees. It's going to mean companies give something they've never given. It also means we're committing the University towards ensuring the success of the local 'Comms' economy. It's a big task and it's at the start of some really big ventures between MMU and business. Have a look at http://mmuagencylife.com
What are MMU doing digitally that students are really benefitting from?
Within the courses at the Business School, there is a big push to put Digital at the heart of everything. Students often come to us with very poor careers advice from schools, colleges and (yes sadly) parents. It takes the time with us for students to really appreciate where the future of employment is going and where the success of this region lies. We have our Digital Innovation at MMU initiative: a great front-end to the University which means people don't have to try and negotiate their way through faculties.
What more can businesses in the area do to appreciate the talent coming from MMU?
I worry that some firms genuinely believe that students and graduates owe them a living. We're in a recession right now yet almost all of my digital marketing graduates walked straight into jobs this Summer. Sadly most of them were in London. Companies in the digital and traditional marcomms sector need o worry about this. If we're to get out of this mess, we need to get firms to engage with the students directly. I had graduates tell me at graduation,"No local company bothered with me during my studies, I didn't know the sector existed so why should I bother with them now." That might sound like arrogance but that's from students who walked into jobs in London. Companies here need to come together and demonstrate that there is a huge sector up here that will need them. That will mean involvement in courses, commitment to the students, work experience, sponsorships, paid placements, funded projects. Investing now means they will remember you in the future. We asked for a flexible and mobile workforce and these young people have shown that's what they are.
Can you sum up your key responsibilities to the university?
I'm the most senior academic within the digital marketing discipline so I'm responsible for the growth and development of that "subject" in terms of teaching, research and business enterprise. I also spend a lot of time working with firms in the digital sector looking at their future needs and thinking how we respond. I'm the Programme Director for our joint venture MSc Digital Marketing Communications, Internet Retailing and our Digital Certificates award. If I'm not teaching, I'm supervising postgraduate research, meeting people in the industry and presenting the discipline to outsiders in more general business.
Can you sum up your key responsibilities to the students?
I have to get them to pass. I also have to get them to be employable. Once they've got past the pass mark, I then need to get them to excel.
Can you sum up your key responsibilities to the digital business sector?
To make sure the University meets the needs of the sector in terms of employees, research, product development and sustainability.
Of everything happening next term, what do you want to shout about?
It's got to be Agency Life. If it works, you'll hear about it a lot more from many different people across the City and the region. And I don't have a remit that caters for it failing.
Please give us a top tip for graduates trying to find their first role.
Jobs don't come knocking on your door. It's not about what you (think) you know. It's who you know. Get to networking events. Have something to talk about. Be engaging. Be interesting. Be unique. And never wear brown shoes with a black suit
What would you recommend employers do to improve their graduate recruitment processes?
Don't assume the best students know you exist. Get involved with students 24 months before they graduate in order to ensure they know about you. Make friends with their lecturers, get involved in their teaching, make some early investments to ensure a maximum return on your recruitment effort.
What has made you chuckle this summer?
Discovering that the Foursquare Location for our new Business School building is called "The Death Star".
Above all, what do you look forward to most during term time?
Getting up in front of the crowd and seeing their faces when they suddenly "get it."
Thanks David for your contribution!