An education job isn’t just teaching and training. The private education sector in Singapore needs talent from Marketing and Sales to IT and Support too.
Crossing over from a different industry, she had a steep learning curve, but her determination enabled her to acclimatise quickly. Read on as she offers some career tips to jobseekers entering the education industry
This week, Amy Tee from Kaplan Singapore gives us a glimpse into the inner workings of her Marketing department. From conceptualisation to implementing marketing programmes, her job provides a broad range of activities which utilise both her skill set from advertising and finance, and her inner creative flair.
Hi Amy, how has the first six months of 2012 been for you?
The first few months have been a busy, but fruitful, time for all of us at Kaplan. We rolled out many interesting campaigns and events in that time, e.g. ‘The Big Story on University College Dublin, Ireland’ an online campaign; an outdoor recruitment exercise for our diploma programmes; and our very first Kaplan Open House at our Wilkie Edge Campus. The Open House was met with overwhelming response and participation from our students and the public.
How did you get into the education sector? Did you have any specific qualifications?
I was previously from the financial services industry and had no prior education industry background. However it is my experience and skill set from my previous careers that led me to the position of Marketing Director at Kaplan.
Tell us more about your job as a Marketing Director.
In summary, my job includes strategy development, planning and implementation as well as deployment of resources across different marketing activities, domestically and in Southeast Asia. It also includes public and media relations, market research as well as customer engagement strategies. As the key brand custodian, I am responsible for brand management in Singapore and in overseas markets where Kaplan has its brand presence to ensure it is aligned with the Kaplan brand positioning globally.
I also constantly develop new ideas and/or discovering new avenues to reach our target segments locally and abroad. This keeps me and my team busy as we are always exploring innovative ways to market our wide range of programmes and leverage new media and/or platforms such as digital and social media, outdoor channels, etc. Regular research also helps me understand the current trends and behaviours that enable us to launch new initiatives that set Kaplan apart in the market.
I also get to exercise my creative flair by getting involved in the conceptualisation of campaigns, which I enjoy very much. There is a great satisfaction when a campaign takes off and received positive reviews and results. It is definitely an enormous reward and is a gratifying experience for me. Of course, not forgetting working with a fun and creative marketing team!
How did you get to where you are and what is / are your greatest career achievements?
I believe my previous work experience in the advertising and financial services sectors gave me a strong foundation upon which I built my current role today. At Kaplan, my greatest career achievement would be winning awards and accolades that place Kaplan as one of the top private education institution of choice in Singapore. In 2011, we won the MARKies Award for Best Search Campaign in Singapore and was ranked No. 2 in the category of ‘Preferred Private Education Institution in Singapore’ in a job-search portal report.
As a Marketing Director, what are the things you do on a day-to-day basis?
In brief, a usual day would start out with reviewing the outcomes of all marketing activities from internal and external reports and data. The information from the reports/data help me analyse and determine the effectiveness of each activity, which will become a benchmark for future marketing approaches. I also have discussions with my team members to provide them with strategic directions and concurrently share ideas on new campaign concepts, evaluate new media channels, create tactical strategies to engage consumer and brainstorm new initiatives to help meet business targets.
I have to ensure that the marketing activities scheduled are implemented according to plan. Part of that is checking that the allocated marketing budget is utilised effectively.
Another essential part of my day involves communicating with cross-functional departments to share information and obtain input regarding the programmes, enrolment, student and sales-related matters. This aids in the marketing messaging and communication to our internal and external stakeholders. We also have to keep an eye on our competitors and conduct research on market activities, both locally and overseas, via the internet and print publications to discover what’s happening in the market place. We even keep a finger on the pulse of latest technology and social trends so that we can apply them to our marketing mix to effectively engage and reach out to our target audience in order to stay ahead of the competition.
Was starting out in your current job easy?
Entering into a different industry without any background was difficult as everything was foreign to me. I went through a steep learning curve for the first couple of months. I learned that determination and inquisitiveness swiftly and greatly helped expand my knowledge about the business.
What were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Personally, the most challenging part of the role was acquiring an understanding of the business structure and the education landscape in order to formulate an effective marketing plan. Being new to the private education business, there were many terminologies, policies and guidelines that I had to internalise. I also had to differentiate over 120 programmes and the many universities partners that are offered at Kaplan.
In my new role, I had to set up a marketing department while learning the ropes. It was not easy, but every time I managed to overcome a challenge or received positive outcome, it gave me a great sense of achievement - the key is to have a positive and open mind. Thankfully I was surrounded by helpful and supportive colleagues and leaders. I was able to find my footing very quickly.
Based on professional experience, what career advice would you give to someone looking to enter the Education sector?
From my point of view, it would be good to have some experience and/or knowledge of the industry before joining the organisation. This will help an individual fit into the environment and the job quicker and with ease.
However do not let the lack of industry knowledge deter you from trying. As in my case, you need to be prepared for a steep learning curve and immerse yourself into the business environment. Keep an open mind and be willing to learn. Do not be embarrassed to admit that you do not understand or do not know a certain area of the business. You will be surprised how much you will learn from being inquisitive. I did a lot of reading and/or research on articles and news related to the business and my area of work to help prepare myself.
What does the phrase ‘rest and relax’ means to you?
Rest and relax means doing absolutely nothing or spending time doing things I enjoy most like exercising, reading, painting, being with family/friends; or going travelling.
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