Last June 5, I attended a briefing on the new marketing curriculum out of concern for what educators can proactively do for students. I was interested on plans for the future and was excited to know what the next big thing in marketing education would be. It seems though that I was left with more questions than answers.
CMO 17, series of 2017 (approved by CHED last May 9, 2017) replaced CMO 39 of 2006. Eleven years is a long time to incorporate relevant changes with what industry expects from their marketing people, such as innovation, sensemaking (critical thinking and insighting), execution skills and the like. Yet, these competencies were not identified in the new marketing curriculum. The only major change made is increasing the internship period from 300 to 600 hours, copying practices abroad without considering the local context where many interns end up doing clerical work or tasks unrelated to their course.
I asked a member of the technical committee who prepared the new curriculum if the following were done: 1) An analysis on what worked or what didn’t in the old marketing curriculum; 2) A definition of industry pain points to be solved in the new curriculum, other than updating in the light of K12; 3) A list of customer-centric data used to come up with the new marketing curriculum; 4) A list of validation and update of marketing competencies; 5) A definition of qualification of people who should be consulted. I was provided with indirect answers with the response that they followed the policies of CHED and they will now ‘need to make the gap analysis and set the industry pain points’. Hence, putting the cart before the horse. Even the best practitioners of marketing were not aware nor consulted about this, which I learned upon asking the Marketing Directors of P&G and Unilever.
According to Dr. Conrad Inigo of the CHED technical committee, ‘Most professors in the Philippines are weak in research’. This is probably because of lack of relevant work experience and incorrect performance metrics. Still, this weakness was not addressed in the section of faculty qualification requiring doctorate degrees for 25% of the faculty members and master’s degrees for 50%, where the degrees must all be business-related. This just shows that the role of social sciences (like anthropology and psychology) in providing new lenses in looking at consumer behavior remains unseen or ignored, not to mention the fact these competencies in the social sciences are now being tapped by progressive marketing companies. Here we are, following the traditional way, being unmindful of the strengths of new practices or the importance of being aware or exposed to multi-disciplines.
Perhaps, two more important and interrelated realities that CHED needs to address are: 1) Why are progressive marketing companies not requiring marketing degrees to do marketing jobs? (and what training programs do they have for these non-marketing degree holders); and 2) Why are those who take marketing perceived to be less “sterling” compared to students in quota courses like accounting or economics? (I have been told stories of marketing being the dumping ground of students failing qualifying exams in quota courses.)
K12 added 2 years for graduates to be more competitive. This becomes more alarming as ABM (Accounting, Business, Management) has the highest track in K12 enrollment. A chain is as strong as its weakest link, so when the ‘baton’ is passed to the collegiate level with a marketing curriculum lacking relevance, the goal of K12 won’t come to reality.
CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) 17 of 2017 was approved much faster than other curricula. The process needs to be reviewed, as this new marketing module, to my opinion, is not well-researched, lacking real customer-centric output with a lot of supply side thinking — a sad state for future marketers.
(Josiah Go is chairman of Mansmith and Fielders Inc.)