For Alison Choi, a career in marketing has always been an attractive prospect.
“I view myself as someone who is quite creative,” she says, “and marketing offers plenty of chances for creativity.”
After graduating from a bachelor’s degree in politics, Alison began her career as a copywriter for CSOFT International in Shanghai. After a year of building experience, she was drawn to the more strategic side of marketing.
“During my time working with CSOFT, I didn’t get a chance to advise on the direction of the content. But to find a more strategic marketing job, I thought I should pick up more technical skills,” she explains.
This plan led her to business school. After graduating from the MSc in Marketing program at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Alison landed a role with market research firm, MMR Research Worldwide, in Shanghai.
Discovering new career paths
Although she is originally from Hong Kong, Alison was familiar with the UK when she came to LSE, having studied her bachelor’s degree at the University of Warwick.
She had visited London a few times, and quickly fell in love with the city’s vibrancy.
When the time came to choose a study destination for her Master’s, LSE was a no brainer. Not only is the school situated in the heart of London, but its expertise in social science piqued Alison’s interest as a humanities graduate.
“I deliberately looked for a program that wasn’t exclusively focused on quantitative topics,” she recalls.
Studying a broad program also helped Alison explore the diverse career paths that marketing offers—many of which she hadn't considered before
“One of my favourite experiences was learning about branding,” she reflects. “In our branding workshop we learned how to build a brand from scratch and connect it to customers.”
Branding is a topic she is keen to return to in the future, but it was a module in market research that laid the foundations for Alison’s current career.
Before enrolling at LSE, she was unfamiliar with what market research actually entailed, she admits.
“But through my program, I learned some frameworks for conducting this research and became really interested,” she says.
As Alison’s plan to enter market research took shape, the LSE career service team was on hand to support at every step, she adds.
Coaches can offer support on everything from career planning to interview technique, and Alison made use of the CV clinic to tailor her resume.
Alison’s time at LSE also gave her a chance to build a strong professional network.
“Getting to know my peers in the program was definitely a highlight,” she reflects. “We’re a really diverse group, so you meet people from several different cultures and professional backgrounds.”
These peers made group projects an enjoyable challenge, and she remains in touch with several classmates who became close friends.
Alison also connected with alumni from other programs at networking events arranged by LSE. Speaking with graduates about their experience in different industries helped her figure out which industries she might enjoy, and develop a professional support system.
“The alumni I met encouraged me to reach out with any issues and questions—they were all very friendly and helpful,” she says.
Building analytical skills
For Alison, learning to take an analytical approach to marketing was another program highlight.
Without a background in statistics, the analytics modules posed a daunting challenge, but thanks to the support of her professors Alison was able to grow her skills step by step.
The program covered topics like research methods and data interpretation, and gave Alison a working knowledge of the programming language, R.
“The professors at LSE did such a good job of introducing someone with no quantitative abilities to statistics,” Alison explains.
This data literacy turned out to be vital to her career. As part of her application to MMR Research, she was given the task of making recommendations based on a set of data.
“Without the statistics training I got at LSE, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of that,” she reflects.
Interpreting data is crucial in Alison’s new role as trainee research executive with MMR Research. The agency works with food, beverage, and FMCG companies in their marketing strategies, and it’s Alison’s job to support product launches for several different clients in cities around the world.
“I support the product testing element for a lot of these launches,” she explains. “I’m currently learning how the company works with data, and how they put together recommendations for their clients. It’s so interesting to bring what I learned at LSE into a professional setting.”
To others who want to build their marketing career, she highly recommends the LSE program.
“Doing the course was a real challenge, but for me it was definitely worth it!” she says.
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