By Valerie Alia
As a person who is constantly eager to evolve, some of my greatest passions are my job and professional life.
I started by completing my Bachelor in Graphic Design. I kept myself busy by going in and out of different internships and, post-graduation, found a full-time job. Despite working in that field for about four years, I always felt like something was missing. It was time to make one of those “big decisions” in life and operate a change in jobs, mindset, and lifestyle. I was born and raised in Lebanon and, even though it was scary, I felt like it was time for me to leave; to step out of my comfort zone to be able to excel where I belong.
As a designer, I was constantly in contact with the marketing departments of the companies in which I worked. Being a creative is great: you get to express yourself. However, I realised that my voice wasn’t heard the way I wanted it to be. Executing someone else’s vision was not as fun as being able to build the whole story. This is why I decided to get into the marketing world. But how would a person with no marketing experience get a job in that area? Getting a Master degree seemed like a good solution. I came across the ESCP Business School MSc in Marketing & Creativity, and it ticked a lot of boxes. Here are the three main reasons I decided to enrol:
The list of topics and modules is extremely diverse, covering all the essentials of the modern marketing world. From finance to creative branding, the programme has it all. Coming from a creative background, I needed this to catch-up with the basics, and I acquired the necessary knowledge; but since the programme focuses on creativity marketing, it also completely breaks down the traditional approach. This is where my experience made it easier for me to think in a non-corporate way. As a person who has not been in contact with numbers for over five years, having modules like finance and statistics hasn’t been a piece of cake. Numbers are not my passion! However, now I can say that I understand their role and importance in a business. Surprisingly, I also found that you can be creative in interpreting numbers, too. After linking my purely creative background and my new skills, my mind might still be functioning as a designer but the ideas come from a marketer’s perspective.
Our class consists of 62 students from 30 nationalities and many different professional and ethnic backgrounds. I find it interesting when people highlight different points based on their train of thought, life experience and expertise. On a daily basis we are divided into small groups to complete our assignments and, just as in a professional context, you don’t get to choose who you’ll be dealing with – you just have to make it work. This really enlightened me and made my thought processes change for the better. We may face a few misunderstandings and conflicts sometimes, but this is all part of the process and some great ideas can also come out of these disagreements.
As a person from the Middle East, I kind of lived with a few taboos. I was able to learn about different cultures and beliefs that allowed me to have a different point of view, not only in marketing but also in my life. I also had the opportunity to positively challenge the preconceptions of my peers about my culture.
Connecting Marketing and Creative Design
The saying “it takes two to tango” works perfectly here. Marketing is considered the “brains” behind campaigns, with designers implementing the vision. Without one another, the project or service provided would not be 100% conveyed the way it is supposed to. Design is my thing and, as I’m evolving I am now aware of what it takes to be on the other side. Having a Master degree in Marketing is raising my credibility to target more strategic roles. I aim to become the person handing over a brief to a creative team, and my background will help me to leverage their work as I know what designers are capable of doing. I finally will have the legitimacy to suggest the little twist to make a real difference.
I am clearly at a turning point in my life, both professional and private. I operated the changes I needed to leverage my credibility as a designer and become a creative marketer. I am now confident enough to know that I can work on a campaign from scratch to the final delivery. I am halfway through the MSc in Marketing & Creativity programme and I can see myself in five years working in an advertising firm, or with a well-known company as a brand manager. I’m also going through an intense human adventure: my classmates are peers I consider family. We have actually become closer despite the physical distance the COVID-19 pandemic has forced upon us. We are at different ends of the world, but still manage to have video calls, laugh together, or just check up on each other to make sure all is well. Obviously the programme’s academic credibility is real, but it also creates a warm ambiance for anyone who has the chance to enrol as a student, and I was lucky enough to be part of this experience.
Valerie Alia is an MSc in Marketing & Creativity student. Feeling inspired by her story? To follow in her footsteps, check out ESCP Business School's Marketing & Creativity programmes: