Today’s World Needs Graduates With Digital Marketing Skills


Early this month, in a second-year undergraduate degree class at a leading private university, lecturer Dr Racheal Louis Vincent was not surprised to find that her students had installed 7–14 social media accounts on their smartphones. According to several reports from various geographical locations across the world, people in various age groups are spending at least an hour, some even nine hours, a day surfing the Internet. Given these social trends, it is not surprising that digital marketing is increasingly becoming an integral part of business across the globe. Malaysia is no exception.

The integration of digital aspects across business is clearly visible in Southeast Asia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, the UK, the US and Australia. A recent study conducted by Digital Marketing Institute reports that “in the US (63%), the UK (52%) and Ireland (72%), marketing professionals are unanimous in their verdict that becoming more digitally focused will be critical to their organisation in the next two years”.

Recently, academic scholars Aditi Mitra and Sanjaya Singh Gaur at Sunway University Business School, Malaysia, and Elisa Giacosa at the University of Turin, Italy, jointly published an article in “Management Decision”, one of the oldest management journals in the world. In the article, they say that owing to the reactive, ad hoc and discontinuous nature of change often triggered by external factors or crises within an organisation, it needs to continually engage with existing data. The outcome must be driven towards preparing for the change through data engagement, implementation and reinforcement. The authors further say that in order to be successful, it is essential to have a strategy, set up the right operating model, be clear on the scope of the change management workstream, and continually monitor the progress through defined milestones and acceptance criteria. They conclude that for companies targeting to achieve competitive differentiation through ambidexterity, a well-grounded change management programme is the key to success.

The research shows business professionals that they need the latest and most cutting-edge digital marketing skills and know-how to help their business compete in the digitally charged global economy. This need is supported by practitioners too.

For example, Robert Walters, a world-leading specialist professional recruitment group, says on its website that the global demand for digital and technology skill sets shows no sign of slowing down and that most marketers feel they do not have staff with the necessary digital marketing skills. A report entitled “2019 Marketing Hiring Trends” published by McKinley Marketing Partners supports the above. According to the report, “61% of hiring managers plan to add digital marketers to their team. Digital skills are essential in today’s marketing workforce”. In fact, McKinley Marketing Partners has ranked digital marketing as the top marketing speciality for this year.

As Malaysian businesses struggle to upskill their current staff, business graduates need to go through a curriculum that includes the development of necessary digital marketing skills. The Department of Marketing at Sunway University Business School in Sunway City is working towards meeting this important need for businesses operating in the country. It offers a Bachelor’s degree programme in Marketing and a Bachelor’s degree programme in Business Studies to develop skills particularly in digital marketing along with other aspects of marketing. This year, the Marketing Department will be launching a new programme — Master in Marketing. This programme will allow non-marketing and non-business degree holders to obtain postgraduate qualification in marketing and acquire required digital marketing skills. The department’s programmes use state-of-the-art curriculum that focuses on the development of potential employees in possession of digital marketing skills for Malaysian and international firms operating in the country. Graduates will be well-equipped to face the challenges of digital economy.

The Marketing Department at Sunway University has a pool of experts with international experience and backgrounds who perform research across the micro and macro aspects of businesses operation in digital economy. At the micro level, the department’s research is in the broad domain of behavioural research involving socio-psychological constructs such as human emotions, decision making, social identity, ethics, behaviour and action.This work has been applied to the study of consumers, salespersons, managers, patients, doctors and organisations.

At the macro level, the department’s research examines how firm-level issues such as market orientation, governance, corporate social responsibility, inter-organisational trust and top management team characteristics affect the strategies and performance of firms in different geographical settings.

The research settings used by the department include Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, China, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. The methods used include experimentation and survey as well as qualitative research. The academic staff at the Department of Marketing also have extensive international experience in consulting and training for executives and senior management.


Professor Sanjaya Singh Gaur
Department of Marketing


Originally published in The Edge, April 2019