Melbourne Business School alumni reunion 2019

One of the highlights of my year is the annual Melbourne Business School alumni reunion – which is, essentially, a two-day seminar and networking event.

Here’s our Dean, Professor Ian Harper, giving us an update on how the school is doing.

Professor Ian Harper, Dean of Melbourne Business School gives alumni an update on how the school is doing.

This year I attended sessions on:

  • creating career roadmaps (with speakers from act3 Planning)

  • data-oriented businesses

  • areas of marketing debate

  • ethics for companies that collect data, and

  • managing sustainability.

All of which were excellent, as usual.

Economist Ranks MBS MBA Regional #1 and Global #32

Economist + Which MBA logoThe Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked the Melbourne Business School full-time MBA at #1 in Asia and Australasia and #32 globally in its 2011 full-time MBA rankings.

MBS is already ranked #1 in Australia by AFR BOSS and #46 globally by Times Higher Education.

Drilling down to the detailed profile for MBS, you get some interesting results.

Missed Networking Opportunities

For example, the school ranks well for networking:

  • Potential to network: #5
  • Breadth of alumni network (i.e. ratio of registered alumni to current students): #2

But ranks poorly in the use and perception of its alumni network:

  • Alumni effectiveness (i.e. student assessment of alumni network): #89

I’m not sure why this might be the case. I can make a few guesses, though. For example, international students might find that, while there are tonnes of MBS alumni that they can network with in Asia and Australasia, there aren’t enough of them around the rest of the world. There might also be some missed opportunities in the students’ use of the alumni network. Or of recent alumni themselves not networking much with each other.

Career Services is Improving

MBS also ranks really well for its careers service:

  • Jobs found through the careers service (i.e. percentage of graduates finding jobs through careers service): #2

But students and alumni don’t seem to give it enough credit:

  • Student assessment of careers service (i.e. did the careers service meet expectations and needs?): #98

This suggests that, while the MBS Career Centre is doing a good job, it suffers from some perception problems. This might be because perception change among alumni who no longer need or use the careers service lags the reality of the careers service having improved in recent years. I do know that the MBS Career Centre in 2008-09 had a challenging time placing graduates from my full-time MBA batch because we were the first group to come out of the new September intake. This meant the Career Centre had to find jobs for twice as many students (many of whom were international) right at the beginning of the GFC. And, since the EUI’s ranking has memory – i.e. it’s a weighted average of results from 2011 (50%), 2010 (30%), and 2009 (20%) – this alumni perception would still have an impact on perception scores.


Overall, though, this is a good result and I’m glad that MBS continues to improve its quality, reputation, and ranking.

MBS MBA Again Ranked Number 1 by AFR BOSS

afrboss_red_logo_smallThe Australian Financial Review’s (AFR) BOSS magazine has, once again, ranked the Melbourne Business School MBA at number one in Australia.

According to these rankings, the top five MBAs in Australia are from these business schools:

  1. Melbourne Business School
  2. University of Queensland – Business School
  3. Monash University – Department of Management
  4. QUT Graduate School of Business (Queensland University of Technology)
  5. Australian School of Business – AGSM

BOSS conducts this research every other year and its results are based on two components: an alumni survey (weighted 55%) and data supplied by schools (weighted 45%). 21 business schools participated this time and 19 of these made it into the rankings (two didn’t, due to insufficient alumni responses). 1,600 b-school alumni from the graduating classes of 2008-2010 (inclusive) took part in the survey.

Digging Deeper

Looking more closely at the results:

  • The AGSM and MBS MBAs have the highest tuition fee ($64,800 and $64,000, respectively) followed by Monash and Macquarie ($57,260 and $56,000, respectively). The rest of the MBAs have tuition fees under $50k.
  • 96% of MBS alumni reported that their MBA provided them value for money.
  • MBS, AGSM, and Macquarie MBAs have the greatest number of class contact hours over the entire degree (720, 686, and 640 hours, respectively). As it happens, these are also three of the four most expensive degrees. The others all have fewer than 600 class contact hours. 
  • MBS was ranked 3rd for satisfaction, 5th for value for money, and 1st for research.
  • When survey respondents were asked which school they would attend if money and location were not an issue, MBS came out on top again.

International Rankings

The two most notable international rankings of business schools come from the Financial Times and the Economist. In their latest rankings:

  • The Financial Times ranks AGSM at #35 and MBS at #53
  • The Economist ranks MBS at #44, Monash at #58, MGSM at #64, Curtin at #76, UoQ at #81

FT will be kicking off research for its 2012 b-school rankings later this month.

Diversity in MBA Programs

Matt Symonds recently wrote a good article on the importance of diversity in MBA programs: schools seek to encourage not only more women and ethnic minorities to do an MBA, but also those with more diverse backgrounds including media, military, not-for-profits and entrepreneurship


But is it important for business schools to also strive for professional diversity? Many academics, administrators and students would say so. In fact, it’s been argued that restricting the MBA course participants to a limited range of experience means that traditionally accepted patterns of thought go unchallenged. They argue that a wide-ranging group of students helps to put business decision-making into a wider perspective, and thereby reduce the risk of a herd mentality that leads to ill-informed decisions. Perhaps Wall Street should take note?

Diversity in the student body - particularly a good mix of international students - is one of the main reasons I applied to Melbourne Business School for my MBA; and I was certainly not disappointed. In my intake (the full-time MBA intake of  September 2006) we had about 65  students, only seven of which were from Australia (the rest were from about 35 countries) and a quarter of which were women (for MBA programs, this is better than most).

MBS also goes out of its way to acquire diversity through its various scholarship programs. In my case, I was awarded (what is now called) the Dean's International Management Scholarship. Every year, that adds about three financially-limited international students to a mix of people who are fortunate enough to have other means to paying for their studies. I, for one, will be forever grateful to MBS for giving me that opportunity.

AFR MBA Survey 2011 is Open for Alumni Input

BOSS Magazine LogoEvery two years the Australian Financial Review ranks Australia’s “top MBA programs” based on a survey of recent business school alumni and data from a questionnaire that’s filled out by the schools themselves.

They publish this ranking in BOSS Magazine and, in 2009, Melbourne Business School was ranked #1.

This year’s alumni survey is now open for input from business school graduates who completed their degrees within the last three years (i.e. 2008, 2009, and 2010 grads only). If you fit that category, please fill out the survey so that this year’s results reflect the most accurate opinions of recent Australian b-school grads.

The 2011 survey results will be published in the September issue of BOSS. Of course, I’ll blog about them when they come out, as well.

FYI: If you’re an MBS alumni and have any questions about the survey, get in touch with David Mitchell who is the alumni and community relations manager at MBS.

Things Looking Up for MBAs in Australia

I’ve been really busy at work these last few months which is why I haven’t blogged here much. Unfortunately, it’ll probably stay that way till early next year.

What’s prompted me to write today, however, is Penny McLeod who wrote in The Australian an article called ‘A Degree You Can Bank On: MBA’ – that says:

Australian companies are knocking down the doors of leading business schools to secure the best master of business administration graduates.

The article goes on to explain how demand for MBAs has increased in Australia this year. Further, this demand isn’t coming just from the financial sector but from other sectors as well (including, for example, utilities and not-for-profit organizations).

That’s great news because, in my opinion, the MBA is undervalued in Australia and I’m glad to see that perception change.

Courses at MBS - Core & Elective

Scott Arbeitman, who is nearing the end of his MBA at Melbourne Business School, has started writing a series of blog posts in which he’s reviewing his time there.

Last week he wrote about the core (i.e. mandatory) and elective (i.e. optional) courses offered during the MBA:

FYI: What I call ‘courses’ are called ‘subjects’ at MBS.

His posts make a great read for anyone who is doing, or thinking of doing, an MBA because the issues he’s talked about are relevant to pretty much all b-schools degrees out there.

(By the way, I wrote my end-of-MBA post almost two years ago. I didn’t realize it had been that long!)

Symonds on Creative MBA Programs

Matt Symonds recently wrote an article in Forbes called ‘How Creative MBA Programs are Overcoming Bad Times’ and, in it, he talks about Melbourne Business School (MBS):

If there is one thing the less well-known schools where M.B.A. applications are holding up have in common, it is an ability to offer something different.

Melbourne Business School, one of the leading institutions in the Asia-Pacific region, has also seen its latest M.B.A. class grow. Dean Jenny George seems to share Antal-Mokos' view that the secret may not be location, ranking or history but a unique underlying structural model. "We have the luxury of being what I'd term 'quasi-independent,'" she says. "We have a strong link to our local university, but at the same time as a corporate body we have free rein to do what we think is best. That means we have the credibility to attract really good faculty but can hire people who don't always fit the traditional, conventional picture of an academic. And that in turn means we can put together a learning experience that pulls in the very best students."

It’s a good article and I recommend you read it.

More about Symonds:

Marketing 101: Overview of the Marketing Process

I took a number of marketing courses in my MBA at Melbourne Business School (MBS) and it was during my Consumer Behaviour course with Brian Gibbs that we got the best, single-page overview of the marketing process.

Framework for Marketing Management

Gibbs called this the ‘Framework for Marketing Management’ and it’s an excellent summary of how marketing is done:

Framework for Marketing Management

[Note: The diagram above is one that I made based on my notes from the course.]

It works like this:

  • The marketing concept says you begin by looking at your customers, company, and competition – these are the three Cs. Let’s say your company makes pens:
    • Ask yourself what it is that your customers need. How can you satisfy that need? In real life a lot of research would go into answering questions like these. Then consider what your customers do to satisfy those needs. What factors contribute to their decision making process? Again, more research would be done.
    • Also look at your company. Can you make the pens your customers want? Do those types of pens fit with your company’s corporate objectives? For example, if you’re Montblanc, you won’t be making cheap plastic pens anytime soon even if some your customers say that’s what they want in a writing instrument.
    • Don’t forget to analyze your competition as well. How will your competitors respond to your product (say, when you introduce a new version)? Also ask yourself who else satisfies the needs of your customers. For example, should you be looking at companies that make markers and pencils as competition?
  • Once you’ve done that, you segment your customers according to primary bases, such as their identified needs. For example, Group A wants cheap plastic ballpoint pens, Group B wants fancy liquid ink pens, and so on. You also segment by secondary bases, which are often things like demographics. You keep slicing and dicing using a combination of bases till you get useful segments; i.e. those you can target properly. For example, you could further segment Group B by age bracket and annual income.
  • Next, you decide which specific segments you’re going to target (and why). For example, Montblanc may be targeting only, say, richer and older people from Group B. They know they can communicate well with these people, they can defend this segment from the competition, and ultimately that’s the area of the market they want their company to operate in.
  • That sets you up with the positioning of your product. Getting your positioning right is incredibly important because it’s the key to your entire plan. So, for example, Montblanc may position themselves in the luxury space as a company that sells excellent writing instruments that have the highest level of craftsmanship. In effect, their pens are high-end gifts, much like hand-crafted jewellery. They would then position themselves appropriately in the luxury gift jewellery markets, but not in the broader writing instruments market.
  • Once you’ve got your positioning done, you figure out how you’re going to to create, capture, communicate, and deliver value to your customer. This value is created by the existence of your product, captured by its price, communicated through your promotion, and delivered by where you place (or how you distribute) your product – these are the four Ps.
  • Finally, as the market grows and develops, you will need to tweak these four Ps to maintain your positioning. Then, at regular intervals, you will need to re-do your three Cs because the market will change and you will need to change with it. Repeat ad infinitum…well, at least as long as your company continues to exist.

It All Comes Down to Positioning

As you may have gathered, a good way of remembering the entire marketing process is to think of the just the three Cs and four Ps. However, if you want to distil it further, you can bring it all down to positioning.

Positioning is a summary of the first part (analysis & strategy: the three Cs) and a guide for the second part (planning & implementation: the four Ps).

From the consumer behaviour point of view, it is also the psychological epicentre of the marketing process. That’s because positioning – with the help of the four Ps – is what translates the ‘actual product’ into the ‘perceived product’ within the consumer’s mind (they are often not the same).

So while a Montblanc pen is in essence just a writing instrument, in the mind of the consumer, it is much more than just that. And it is the pen’s positioning that will determine what qualities above its ability to put ink on paper set it apart from its competitors.

Thanks for Sharing, But What Was the Point?

This one-page overview of the marketing process is useful in many ways:

  • It provides a great sanity check for what you’re doing in your job. For example, the Web & New Media Strategy that Melbourne Water developed over the last year followed pretty much this process. That strategy now forms the basis of my day-to-day work. So, if we hadn’t done the three Cs right, for example, I would have had a hard time getting the four Ps done properly.
  • It’s a great way to analyze the marketing, branding, and product positioning that’s going on around you all the time.
  • It brings good overall project management and business strategy rigour to whatever it is that you’re doing.

Oh, and if you’re a job seeker, it’s particularly useful because it provides a good framework for when you get asked questions about the company’s products or services.

Jenny George Appointed Dean of MBS

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks at Melbourne Business School. Fortunately, the more recent recent news has been all good.

The latest of this is the excellent news that Acting Dean Professor Jennifer George has now been appointed Dean of MBS. Congratulations to her and I look forward to seeing what direction she steers MBS towards; particularly now that there’s no merger to think about. We should have exciting times ahead.

Gans on MBS-FEC Merger

Joshua Gans has written an excellent post on the proposed merger between Melbourne Business School (MBS) and the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Economics and Commerce (FEC) that didn't go through.

In it, he lists some of the factors that contributed to the merger being blocked; such as the differences in organizational culture, teaching culture, and industry engagement between the two schools.

He isn't as concerned about competition from the FEC as I am (more on this some other time) but, like me, he is very optimistic about MBS's future and place in Australia and the Australian education industry.

MBS-FEC Proposed Merger Will Not Proceed

In an interesting turn of events, Melbourne Business School (MBS) announced today that its proposed merger with the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Economics and Commerce (FEC) will not proceed. (Go here for background.)

Indeed, this won't even been put to vote at the 7 October Extraordinary General Meeting of MBS Ltd's members (read: shareholders) because the resolution is bound to fail. That's because enough members have already told the Board they will vote against the merger so there's no way the Board will get the majority needed to proceed.

Why Will Some Members Vote Against the Merger?

I'm not exactly sure because they haven't said.

I can speculate, though. Maybe they don't want to dilute MBS Ltd's focus (or brand) because, post merger, they would have had the added responsibility of managing the undergraduate economics and commerce programme. Maybe it's less about the lack of focus and more about sticking to what you know you're really good at (i.e. graduate-level teaching). Maybe they think the merger is good in theory but would be impossible to pull off in practice. Maybe it's lots of separate little issues that, collectively, become one big one. I don't know.

Regardless, the members are obviously not convinced that the merger is good idea and, since they have the deciding vote in the matter, it's been called off.

As MBS Chairman Ron McNeilly said:
"Ultimately the continued success of MBS depends on the support of its members, alumni, students, clients and the broader business community.  The Board has accepted that without the overwhelming support of these stakeholders, a merger at this time would not be in the best interests of the School."

Meanwhile, the University of Melbourne's Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis had this to say:
"Over time this will be judged a missed opportunity for the University and the MBS to create the strongest business school in our region."

That may be true and, who knows, the merger could still take place a year from now or three years from now. All we know is that it's not happening now.

What Next?

Both MBS and FEC will continue to operate they way they're operating now.

But, of course, they won't. They've just gone through a process in which they identified their gaps, overlaps, and opportunities for growth. Their conclusion was that they should work together and they went as far as to plan exactly how they'd do that. And now they've been told it's not going to happen. So, yeah, things won't go quite back to normal.

Meanwhile, the confusion in the market of whether you should do a masters in business from FEC or a masters in business administration from MBS will remain. Here's hoping they start by making things like that clearer because, if they don't sufficiently differentiate themselves from each other, the competition won't help anyone...least of all potential applicants to both institutions.

AFR BOSS Ranks MBS MBA at Number 1

The AFR’s BOSS magazine recently published the results of its biennial rankings of MBA schools in Australia:

I haven’t bought the magazine and read the detailed results myself yet but Manns’ article lists the top five schools as follows:

  1. Melbourne Business School (University of Melbourne)

  2. Monash University Graduate School of Business (Monash University)

  3. Macquarie Graduate School of Management (Macquarie University)

  4. Australian Graduate School of Management (University of New South Wales)

  5. University of Western Australia

The rest of the article was too painful to read online so I only skimmed through it and, therefore, have nothing further to say. Clearly they want us to go buy a copy of their magazine.

By the way, 22 business schools and 1,732 b-school alumni took part in the survey that these rankings are based on.

Catching Up

I haven’t been blogging much these last few months. That’s because three months ago my wife and I moved into an apartment that has no land line and only a satellite cable TV connection. (We didn’t think to ask about the former before moving in here because, really, when was the last time you heard of a house that didn’t have a land line connection?) What this means is that, till just recently, we didn’t have Internet access at home; certainly not cable and ADSL, but not even dialup!

What Happened Then?

It took Telstra (the only phone company that services this area) about six weeks (yes, six weeks) to give us a connection from the telephone exchange to our apartment building. However, we don’t have an outlet in the wall for a phone jack so we can’t actually use that line. Even worse, the electrician who came in to install that outlet couldn’t find where in the wall our telephone wire was so he wasn’t able to connect us. That was about a month ago and, since then, we’ve been waiting for our real estate agent to do something about this – specifically, getting the building plans from the owners and giving them to the electrician – but nothing’s happened yet.

I finally got sick of the situation so, a couple of weeks ago, I went and got us a mobile broadband connection from 3 (specifically, a USB wireless modem) and that’s what’s letting me access the Internet now. We then went a step further and bought a wireless router for the modem so now both my wife and I can access the Internet at the same time. It’s slow, but at least it works.

What about blogging from work, you ask? Unfortunately, work has been really busy (though incredibly enjoyable) so I haven’t had the mental energy to do any writing in the evenings (whether at work or offline from home). The only blog posts I have managed to finish are the ones I wrote on a weekend and published from the office the following work week.

So, Catching Up…

What all this is leading up to is the fact that I have lots of catching up to do. The way I’m going to do that is by giving you a bulleted list of all the stories I’ve wanted to talk about these last few months but haven’t been able to discuss. The stories range from basic, on-the-ground advice (and lists) to more high level discussions on a particular topic. They’re all good to read, though.

Jobs, Careers, & MBA

Social Media

Online Design, UI

Online Marketing

General Life Advice

MBS-FEC Merger: Consultation Period Extended

Quick update: The MBS Board met at an Extraordinary General Meeting on Wednesday to discuss the proposed merger between Melbourne Business School and the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Economics and Commerce (see previous post for details).

They decided to postpone their decision for six weeks so a more detailed consultation with constituents could be carried out. The MBS donors (i.e. the constituents of the Board) will now vote on the proposed merger and change of constitution on 7 October.

MBS-FEC Merger Announced

UPDATE (1-Oct-09): This merger will no longer proceed. Details here. Also read Joshua Gans' post on this.

The last time I talked about the merger between Melbourne Business School and the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Economics and Commerce (FEC) the two schools had:

  • agreed in principle that were going to merge

  • started a consultation process to figure out how that would happen.

Since then, they have agreed on the proposed merger and are now waiting on approval from the Members of MBS Ltd – which is the not-for-profit organization that governs Melbourne Business School – before they can go on.

Announcements and News Reporting

This was announced by both MBS and Melbourne Uni:

And has also been discussed in the media:

Yes, the jobs angle was a funny one for The Age to take but I presume they did that because the timing of the merger announcement was unfortunate: Melbourne Uni had only just announced that they were going to cut 220 jobs because of the financial shortfall brought about by the global financial crisis.

Communicating the Plan

In order to give us stakeholders a chance to find out first-hand what was going on with the merger, MBS invited students and alumni for a Questions & Answers session with Acting Dean Jennifer George and Professor Richard Speed.

It was hugely encouraging to know that a session like this had been planned. Mergers are difficult times for both organizations and, during this period, it’s crucial to have this kind of stakeholder communication and engagement. And by ‘stakeholder’ I mean everyone involved in the organization so that includes employees, students, alumni, prospective students, faculty, academia, industry, government, accreditation organizations, suppliers, employers, partners, the media, and so on.

Further, this communication and engagement needs to be:

  • frequent

  • take place at all levels of the organization, and

  • discuss the issue to varying levels of depth depending on who you’re talking to and what’s important to that group of people.

Fortunately, that’s exactly what MBS is doing and this session was an excellent first step.

What was also good was the kind of session that Jenny and Richard ran: it was completely open, honest, and we could ask them anything we liked. They didn’t, of course, know the answers to all our questions – there are still numerous details to be worked out – but they did manage to cover all the important points.

What I liked most about the session, though, was the sense of excitement and realistic optimism that everyone seemed to have. This merger is an exciting opportunity and, though everyone knows it will be difficult and complicated to pull off, we are looking forward having a crack at it.

Details About the Merger

So what have we learnt so far about the proposed merger?

  • The organizational structure of the merged entity, called the Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE), has been finalized:

MBS - Uni Melb Merger Org Chart

  • The main merging is taking place in the graduate space because undergraduate and executive degrees and courses will probably not change very much post-merger. How exactly the graduate space (i.e. degrees, courses, schedules, fees, classes, faculty, research, etc.) will change has yet to be finalized. Indeed, that space may continue to change and evolve over the next 2-3 years as things get tweaked and improved.

  • Academic oversight over all courses, subjects, and degrees offered by the FBE remains, of course, with the University of Melbourne.

  • The management of the FBE goes to MBS Ltd. In exchange, the University of Melbourne increases its stake in MBS Ltd from 45% to 70%.

  • MBS Ltd’s Board gets increased to thirteen members: eight nominated members (to be voted in), two university-appointed directors, one staff director, one alumni director, and one executive director.

  • The current Chair of the MBS Board, Ron McNeilly, continues in his role. The current Dean of the FEC, Professor Margaret Abernethy, becomes the inaugural Executive Dean of the new FBE.

  • Mt. Eliza Executive Education becomes Melbourne Executive Education. However, this is run by a wholly owned subsidiary of MBS Ltd (which I refer to in the chart as Melbourne Executive Education Ltd because I don’t know what it will be called). So, even though this is part of the FBE, it will be managed reasonably independently.

  • The new graduate program will be split into two streams. The pre-experience stream will be for students fresh out of an undergraduate degree (or with limited work experience). The post-experience stream will be for students with some work experience. The existing MBS MBA degree will come under the post-experience stream while some of the FEC’s existing masters degrees will come under the pre-experience stream.

  • Assuming the MBS Board approves this proposal, the FBE will officially come into being on 1 October 2009 with an aim for “full integration” by 1 January 2010.

As you can imagine, most of the synergies of this merger will occur in the graduate area where there are numerous win-win scenarios. For example, MBS students will get access to a wider range of electives while FEC students will get access to the specialist electives that only MBS offers.

What Next?

The next important date for the merger is 26 August, which is when Members of MBS Ltd will meet in an Extraordinary General Meeting to vote on the merger proposal. There is no real reason for the proposal to not be accepted but that is the last formal step that needs to be taken. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

Over the next few months, I hope to write more about this merger in particular and about mergers, cultural change, and stakeholder engagement in general. Stay tuned.

Web Strategy Jobs in Australia

In order to get what can loosely be called a 'web strategy job' in Australia I did quite a bit of research and analysis on how different companies hire for that position and I thought it might be useful to share what I've learnt. This serves two purposes:

  • Others who are looking for jobs in the same area might find my analysis useful.

  • Those who know more about this area than I do can improve my understanding of it.

Here's hoping this blog post accomplishes a bit of both.

What Do You Mean by 'Web Strategy Job'?

So what exactly does a 'web strategist' do? Well, it depends on the industry and company that job is in. In general, though, a web strategist is someone who takes care of everything a company does online. This includes:

  • managing the company's online presence (website, intranet, social media presence, etc.)

  • figuring out what the company should be doing in the online space over the next few years; i.e. creating a web strategy and making sure it is aligned with the company's business, marketing, and communications strategies

  • implementing that strategy

This job can be in different departments and at different levels of seniority within a particular company. To explain this further I have come up with the How Companies Build Their Online Presence table (below). The columns on this table represent company size and the rows divide companies into those that consider their online presence to be strategic and those that don't (yes, this is an artificial, binary division while, in reality, there is a range here). [1]

The text in the cells describes the solutions that these companies implement in order to build and maintain their online presence (yes, I am generalizing here). The jobs that I spent the last few months looking for are the manager-level web strategist/online manager positions described or implied in the green coloured cells.

How Companies Build Their Online Presence

Interestingly, over the last year, I have worked in companies in all three of those green-coloured areas:

  • Shell is a very large company that uses its online presence strategically (both internally and externally)

  • Melbourne Business School is a medium-sized company that uses of its online presence strategically (and increasingly so)

  • Linfox is a large company that doesn't use its website strategically but makes very good use of its intranet

Melbourne Water sits in the strategic row and is a large company.

Where the Web Strategist Fits in All This

As mentioned earlier, the web strategist jobs in those green-shaded boxes exist at different levels within different companies. That is why, over the last few months, I applied for jobs that spanned a range of tasks, skills, and seniority levels. In some small companies, for example, the primary driver of the web strategy is the specialist consultant hired on a 3-6 month contract. In some larger ones, the strategy is driven by a small group of people who are, in turn, led by the web/online manager.

There are pros and cons to being in each of those positions. For example, a short-term specialist-level consultant may not have the time, influence, or opportunity to have a major impact on a company's overall web strategy. That said, this consultant sits outside the internal politics of that company and can be more blunt and direct about what that company needs to do without having to worry too much about what people think of him. A full-time online manager in a large company, meanwhile, many find corporate inertia working against her for the first six months but, once things get moving, will benefit from it. And because this manager knows the inner working of the company, she may get things done more quickly and more effectively.

The sweet spot for me was to get a middle management position in a good-sized company that made good, strategic use of its online space. There is huge potential (and lots of fun to be had) in this role because companies in this position are often quick to move and are willing to make a real impact online. Fortunately for me, this is exactly where Melbourne Water sits.

What About the State of the Job Market?

Of course, all this analysis is useless if it doesn't help you get a job - particularly if no one is hiring for the position you really want to get. Because of that, I was also looking for less-than-perfect jobs or jobs on the periphery of where I wanted to be. The idea was that I would work towards the role I really wanted.

Speaking more generally: One good thing about this type of job is that every organization needs a website regardless of how the economy is doing (and Australia's isn't doing that badly). As a result, web strategists, website managers, and specialist online consultants are still getting hired. And though there are very few perfect jobs out there (and many companies are hiring less senior people to do the same job that more senior people were doing last year) I did come across a whole bunch that were great places to start. Read my previous blog post for more on that.

Further Research

So that is a summary of what I have learnt about web strategist jobs in Australia over the last couple of years. I encourage you to do your own research on this topic. To do that, I recommend the following three things:

  • Subscribe to online job feeds from Seek, MyCareer, CareerOne, and SixFigures. This will teach you a great deal about the state of the job market and will help you adopt the lingo that hiring managers and recruitment firms use to match candidates to open positions.

  • Talk to people who are in the industry and find out more from them. This is particularly useful if you are targeting a narrower segment in the market (e.g. web strategy jobs in the education sector). Also read their blogs, interact with them online, and get in touch with them through LinkedIn or your own networks (then meet up with them for a coffee or something).

  • Talk to recruitment agents who recruit in this area. I mentioned three firms and three recruitment agents in my previous post but there are many others - you just need to find the ones that work best with you.

And when you learn stuff, blog about it so all of us can learn from your experiences.

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[1] The words 'strategy' and 'strategic' are used very loosely in everyday speech while, in actual fact, they mean something very specific. Let me clarify that here: when you say something is 'strategic' you necessarily mean that it is relative to your competitors. Take your website's 'Contact Us' page. If, along with your office address, you were to give your office's Melways Map reference, this would not be considered 'strategic' because this is common practice. If, instead, you embedded a Google map that showed your office's location exactly (assuming, of course, that your customers found this useful and that it helped your business) this would be a 'strategic' move since few companies tend to do that and this gives you an advantage over your competitors. Note, however, that if you had decided to include that Google map without considering your competition, it would simply have been a 'plan'. A 'strategy', on the other hand, is action taken specifically with your competition in mind (i.e. in order to gain an advantage over them).

New MBS Blogger: Ed Cook

Ed Cook, who is both an MBA student and a Career Consultant at Melbourne Business School, has recently starting his own professional blog.

He’s only posted three entries so far but they’re all interesting and I’m sure that, over time, his blog will become a useful resource and place of discussion. It will be particularly useful for MBA students and graduates from Australian business schools.

I’ve also added Ed to my list of MBS Bloggers.

[Note: If you’re an MBS MBA student or alumnus, Ed’s entries are cross-posted on the internal Career Services blog as well so you can also choose to conduct your discussions – should you want to keep them semi-private – there instead.]