Industry Workshops with Direct Line Group

Ritchie Mehta

Ritchie Mehta is Head of Customer Retention/Loyalty Strategy at Direct Line Group and has been leading our Marketing Industry Workshops this term. Here he tells us what he's learnt from our students.

Having embarked on a journey of leading a series of marketing workshops at Pearson College, one could forgive me for thinking I would impart more knowledge than receive. However, what transpired was something far beyond my expectations that has further enriched not just my own knowledge of marketing but life more generally. I attribute these revelations largely to the changing format of education delivery and the student’s understanding of marketing, borne less from experience but a heightened awareness due to high media consumption. Who ever said engaging in social media would not come in handy?!

With the task set to create a new brand and product with the aim of revolutionising a marketplace, I eagerly awaited its reveal at the first workshop. A lofty ambition no doubt, however, all too often education does not mirror reality and I was determined to put the students through their paces. Straight off the blocks, they started to Google their initial thoughts, no time to live out the usual student stereotype - they meant business.

Savvy Student Media Consumers
After the initial introductory workshop, it was clear that this cohort of first year undergrads would have no issue with grappling a plethora of concepts and would challenge the status quo of traditional marketing techniques. Bring on the millennial generation where understanding media and multi-channel advertising delivery is more intuition than cognition.

Solving Big Social Challenges Inspires Action
As they presented their initial ideas, in workshop two, this strongly came through as each centred on solving a social cause – a new generation more focused on sustainable business perhaps? Projects ranged from medical monitoring services, soft skills development, personal fitness and GPS tracking to name a few. The roster of enterprises that would ‘make a difference’ really shone through. It was particularly interesting to note how dedication around a societal cause really galvanised the students to take action like no other.

Leading is all about stepping up when it matters
Finally, in what can be considered a microcosm of real life it was apparent that each student had an array of different skills they brought to the table. Clearly, student life presents the ideal opportunity to have a practice run at being a leader but they were unwilling to do this at the expense of comradeship. Rather, I observed an underlying respect they enabled different people to step up at different times; some staying in their comfort zone while others venturing far out to sea. All in all, shooting adverts, editing videos, presenting to senior managers all takes a team effort where at one time of another it is your skill that is required and your chance to lead.

A true test of stamina, grit and strategic focus the students presented their ideas to a panel of judges. I’ve got to say, they executed brilliantly and the nerves only got to one person – I’ll try to get better at keeping my cool next time round.