For three years, The University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business has hosted the Notre Dame Marketing Collaboration Group, a gathering of professors, students and marketing alumni—practitioners—who come together to engage in discussion around best practices both in and out of the classroom.
It’s an example of a concerted effort on the part of a university to bridge the academic and practical worlds of marketing.
“We’re mindful all the time of leveraging our key strength at Notre Dame–our collaborative nature,” said John Rooney, senior associate director of career development at Mendoza College of Business. “Tapping into that collaborative nature is No. 1, and then the other strength that we have is tapping into the desire on the part of alumni to give back to the university. There’s a real resource of energy of senior alumni who want to give back to Notre Dame and make it better and better. We want to create platforms to enable them to do that,” Rooney said.
Last week more than 40 alumni and faculty and about 10 students attended the third-annual summit. Tom Cox, a Notre Dame alumnus and VP at Dunnhumby, kicked off the summit with a presentation on trends, with a focus on big data and marketing. Cox dove into seven consumer-centered trends that marketers need to keep in mind in the area of big data.
I moderated a panel of practitioners including Jim Lecinski, VP, U.S. sales and service, Google GOOGL +0.39%; Christy Grady, VP, partnership marketing, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment; Bob Goodpaster, VP, chief global knowledge officer, Hershey HSY +1.62%; and Rick Dow, CMO, i.e. Network, who discussed key issues such as digital, talent, big data, demographics trends, and disruptive strategies.
Professor Tim Gilbride and Cox together presented on how companies and Notre Dame work together to bring real data into the classroom. They shared insights on how companies and professors can work better together to offer students compelling assignments rooted in live data.
Professor Shankar Ganesan closed the day with a discussion on how Notre Dame can evolve experiential learning platforms and other ideas on how to continue to develop exceptional marketing practitioners and thinkers.
So why is bridging the academic and practical worlds of marketing so important, and why now?
“First, practitioners know of certain marketing phenomena long before academic do,” Ganesan said in an email. “Practicing managers are at the forefront of changes in terms of customer expectations about product assortments and service, increased competition both domestically and globally through traditional and non-traditional channels, regulatory pressures, and organizational demands for ‘more for less’ and the continuous ratcheting of business performance and customer service,” he said.