For Bryan McLeod, assistant professor of marketing, working in his field has allowed him to make the most of his interests and educational background and to help students market themselves.
According to McLeod, when he goes about teaching marketing, he translates the material to students by relating it to things they have experienced. Part of that involves reminding them that marketing is something they frequently encounter and teaching them how to find their place in the professional world.
“Everybody, no matter who they are, has experience with marketing,” McLeod said. “Especially as college students, one of the things I try to teach them is that they are their own brand. So the things you post on social media, how you act, your reputation, your relationship with professors – you’re creating your own brand. When you’re trying to find a boyfriend or girlfriend, when you’re trying to find a job, you’re marketing yourself, so I tie into all these things that students experience on a daily basis.”
Additionally, he said with the advent of social media there is a greater need for students to uniquely brand themselves in an ever-diversifying market.
“Because of social media, it’s insanely important,” McLeod said. “Some employers look to see what you’ve posted, to see if you’d be a good representative of their firm. Also, there’s a lot of freelance work nowadays, and you have to establish your brand. That’s what sets you apart. If you go into the job market and don’t have something that sets you apart from others, then they don’t have a reason to choose you over someone else. When I came to the job market, I showed that I had military experience, a law degree, a Ph.D., that I love working with students and I love technology; that was my brand.”
With that interest in technology, McLeod said he came to FMU wanting to update the curriculum with material that FMU students were familiar with but needed help utilizing in today’s market.
“I see it happening in the industry, and they don’t have it here yet,” McLeod said. “That’s one of the reasons I came here; I thought I could make a difference because they didn’t have a lot of digital in their marketing classes. Everything’s going digital in the market now. I keep an eye on what’s going on in the industry and what they’re requiring from graduates to make sure my students have as much of that as possible.”
McLeod said he discovered his interest in marketing when he and a partner opened a non-profit law firm to assist individuals and families and he had to do the marketing for it.
He also felt that the work he had been doing was becoming too taxing and that he couldn’t separate his personal and professional lives.
Since he enjoyed that marketing experience, he realized he could pursue it for his doctorate.
“Since we were starting up, we didn’t have any money, so I was responsible for the marketing of it,” McLeod said. “Trying to create advertisements, a website, a social media presence – I got first-hand experience on how to do that. At the same time I was practicing law, I was in an M.B.A. program. One of my professors pulled me aside and was talking about earning my Ph.D. because he saw I could research and that I liked marketing. He suggested that I get a marketing Ph.D. and become a professor.”
McLeod earned his bachelor’s, M.B.A, J.D. and Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University.
Also, McLeod said being able to combine his technological interests with his expertise in marketing and law is what makes being a professor worthwhile, because of what he can do to prepare students for their career.
In addition to incorporating more modern material into students’ coursework through things like Google Analytics, McLeod said he wanted to give students practical experience with marketing and improve their job prospects, which he accomplished through establishing a marketing club. The club was recently chaptered by the American Marketing Association, giving students access to various conferences and competitions.