Gloria Kaba, on how to boost students' employability
Posted on September 02, 2019

Gloria Kaba, Managing Partner at Beirut-based branding agency, BrandTribe is also a University Instructor who believes very few universities offer courses with up to date material and real-life cases that prepare students to enter the professional world. She also states that the whole Communication industry needs to be reengineered, agencies and universities. Here is her thoughts on how to boost employability and other advices for career advancement.

Opportunities available in the ad business for fresh grads
Surprisingly with the growing trend of tight budgets in the industry, fresh graduates have more chances to be recruited than applicants with experience. From client servicing to designers and print production artists, a smart agency can use fresh graduates, train them to grasp the company’s culture and let them work under a guiding management. They’re cheaper, therefore more cost efficient for their clients.  

Advice for career advancement in the ad/communication field  
It’s not about advertising nor communication anymore, it’s all about finding brand solutions in any way seen fit to make a brand gain market shares and beat the competition. Therefore, creativity in any aspect of the business is a must; from strategizing a brand, branding, brand storytelling, cost efficient media (online and offline), culture creation and definitely ground / retail exposure, are new ways of looking at the industry. That is why, I moved from an advertising agency’s environment to open BrandTribe, a specialized branding and brand consulting firm.

On universities’ curriculum today
Very few universities offer courses with up to date material and real-life cases, which are a must in our industry since it is a pragmatic one and not at all a theoretical one. Courses in this major need professors who still work in parallel in the industry because otherwise, students receive only textbook material that might become obsolete if not supported by real industry cases in the dynamically changing market. Some universities are still stuck with traditional stiff content that confuse the students.  
Honestly, the whole industry needs to be reengineered, agencies and universities. They were all taken by surprise in the dramatic shift of media and clients’ budgets that they lost the sense of brand thinking. They need to realize that selling TV ads and print campaigns are long gone and it’s all about brand storytelling in any strategic mean that would benefit the brand business.

How I prepare students to enter the professional life and boost their employability
Before they graduate, I recommend students to start with internships and attend workshops to enrich their CVs-- and that because most of the courses do not completely prepare the students to work. I am even trying to recommend new courses to reinforce the students’ readiness to work in the industry in those tough times.

On the need of a multi-faceted new generation of people in our industry
Well, it should have always been like that otherwise the whole industry- including academic institutions teaching it - wouldn’t have been enormously affected by the media dynamics.  It’s true that the digital media are ruling these days but when the brand is at the heart of the strategy, they become details in the implementation. That’s what unfortunately most universities don’t understand. To introduce a new course or even change the content of an existing one needs a whole hierarchic approval and by the time you get there, new things happen in the industry.
I can only recommend universities to work with industry professionals (that are still practitioners) to teach the latest topics; these could start by being recommended as industry electives.  That’s the only way they could shadow the constant evolution of the communication scene.  Only business professionals can create a course that is specialty focused without falling in the trap of generalities.