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Flying out of the classroom and into the boardroom

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Curtin marketing students are learning how to apply their classroom learning to real industry through a course unit that gives them greater insight and ability to stay ahead when they enter today’s fast-paced, marketing world.

Aptly named Strategic Marketing, this advanced, third-year unit enables students to meet with Perth-based clients and devise tailored, strategic marketing plans for their businesses. Real clients change every semester, but students have previously worked with Hungry Mart, Climate Clever, Virtual Guest, Enkel and New Earth Living.

In second semester 2017, some students worked with Airflite, a Western Australian based provider of aircraft, component maintenance, products and services.

“It is crucial for students to have industry exposure, as there is only so much a textbook can teach,” says unit coordinator Dr Michael Baird. “This is what sets Curtin’s business degrees apart from many other universities: the fact that we have such good industry connections that allow students to meet clients from the industry and get out of the classroom and, in many cases, into the boardroom.

“Some students think they can go and work for Apple or Coca-Cola straight out of university; using clients such as Airflite opens their minds to other organisations and industries.”

The students set marketing objectives for Airflite and then developed strategies for the company to achieve these objectives across a three to five-year period.

“Strategic Marketing teaches students to think long term when dealing with marketing,” says Dr Baird. “In today’s fast-paced world, with a lot of marketing based around social media, strategies can often get lost, and a company trying to succeed without clear objectives and strategies will rarely survive long-term.”

Student Chi Nguyen says it was a challenge to research and develop a marketing plan for such a niche industry, but it meant the group could be more creative with their strategies.

“We devised a marketing strategy that aimed to increase overall sales within the domestic spare parts industry, and also develop and maintain sustainable customer service solutions to retain and satisfy Airflite customers,” explains Nguyen.

Nguyen, along with two other students, presented their strategy to Kris Constantinides, the General Manager of Airflite, at the company’s Perth Airport office.

“The experience in itself was one to remember,” says Jake Branley on presenting to Constantinides.

“It isn’t often you get to practice a marketing pitch in a real-world environment. Sure, it was nerve-racking at first, but once you looked out across Perth Airport from the comfort of the boardroom table, the nerves quickly turned into excitement to perform a good pitch.”

“Dealing with real clients teaches students to be prepared by doing their background research, being professional and knowing the importance of networking,” says Dr Baird. “Real clients often offer feedback to prepare students even further for their transition into industry.”

After the presentation, the students were taken on a private tour of Airflite’s facilities including its offices, hangars, spare parts workshop, and a private aircraft.

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