Learn about what makes HST’s Master in Corporate & Marketing Communication so special—through the eyes of an industry expert.
Roughly a decade ago, IE University reached out to Cristina Vicedo asking her opinion on what components would comprise a top-tier Master in Corporate & Marketing Communication. The School of Human Sciences & Technology was just getting off the ground, and this program would be the first to take flight. Cristina, a tenured professional in the industry, came back with two keywords that embody the program today: practical and innovative.
Rewire Mag had the chance to chat with Cristina—now the Academic Director of the Master in Corporate & Marketing Communication—about the program’s unique approach to diversity and real-life applications, which positions students to bring a strategic perspective to the world of comms.
Can you tell me a little bit about the vision behind the Master in Corporate & Marketing Communication?
We knew we wanted the professors to have active professional lives to impart their knowledge and networks. These professors are consultants, executives, CEOs, and marketing managers who can give useful, real-world lessons. It was particularly crucial to me when it came to the program’s practical element—all the skills learned in the program should be of use in one’s professional life. We’ve taken this bottom line and run with it over the years.
Prospective students looking at this program should know they will receive an extremely comprehensive understanding of what it means to be a communications professional today. It’s realistic and broad. Over the 10-month program, they will learn everything they need to know as future corporate communications or marketing managers. That’s precisely why the three semesters break down into three distinct modules: strategy, tactics, and real-life application of these skills. We design this holistic approach to give students the skills they need to help real clients and companies in the private or public sector.
It makes a lot of sense! Can you elaborate a little on the “real-life application” you mentioned? How does the third term put theory into practice?
In the final semester, students have an opportunity to work on cases with real clients, putting into practice what they’ve learned throughout the year. This opportunity to utilize the theory they’ve gained and apply it to a real-life client brief is what the whole program is about: helping students be effective professional marketers and communicators. The theory is essential, but they need to use these skills to bring projects and client goals to success throughout their future. It’s the final piece of the puzzle.
We choose the advisors for this practical module with that goal in mind. For example, one is a communications manager at a big bank, while another works for a well-known online newspaper. We collectively advise all sides of the communications industry so that our students can apply their knowledge to professional work. That said, it’s up to the students to work with the clients to deliver the final result, which is pretty exciting to watch!
How does this work with the two different formats? Between part-time and full-time, how do the students accomplish the same tasks between the two?
The idea behind the two different formats is to accommodate people at various points in their lives and professional careers. People come to this program from many walks of life and professional levels. Some are straight out of undergrad, while others have years of work experience under their belt and are looking for a career change.
Part-time students might work simultaneously, or cannot come to Madrid for other reasons, while full-time students might skew a little younger and have less experience. That doesn’t mean that you don’t find experienced students in the full-time program, but these are the trends we see.
The part-time course is intensive. It can be a challenge navigating a group project when your classmates are on different time zones, and you have much more infrequent classes. We accommodate this by hosting three in-person sessions that part-time students can join throughout the year.
I would say the full-time is a little more enjoyable since they’re here in person and get to enjoy the wonderful city of Madrid and their professor’s face-to-face lectures. Being in person means it’s a little more relaxed. Only a little, though.
You mentioned all the different time zones and varied backgrounds of the students. What role does diversity play in this program?
One of the most substantial benefits of this program, and IE as a whole, is the degree of diversity. What’s more important in professional communication than a broad understanding of the world? At the end of the day, it’s not about what I say. It’s about how you, the listener, perceive what I’m saying. Diversity in a program like this is immeasurable in that it gifts this understanding and skill to students. We have 19 nationalities in our full-time MCMC class this year! Think about the kinds of interactions, experiences, and understanding students can gain from interacting positively with their classmates and workgroups.
We are in a global world. You need the internet, and you need social media. You need to be prepared to talk to anyone, anywhere. The more diverse your mind is, the more competitive a professional you are. This opportunity to have an eclectic sense and understanding of the world is truly the best gift this program can give.
With such a diverse student body, what sort of career paths do you see students taking post-graduation?
As a consultant, my heart is on the agency side. Typically, however, I see alumni move on to work with brands over agencies, with the vast majority head in the private sector. With that said, I think like a consultant. When you come from the brand side and then move towards an agency, you understand how companies work from within and deliver better results.
Since the program sets students up for a broad knowledge of communication strategy, we see a massive range of functions with our alumni. Some are in the PR sector, others are working on the brand strategist side of things… A few are working with NGOs, helping them expand into different markets. I think this number will continue growing, as younger individuals show more interest in joining organizations and companies focused on sustainability. Generally speaking, our alumni go on to do incredible projects all over the world.
HST is known for its emphasis on entrepreneurship. How does this program in particular help students with their entrepreneurial goals?
Entrepreneurship is one of the most important subjects within the program, and all three modules work toward empowering our students to think and work strategically. While a program like Digital Marketing is more about tactics, the Master in Corporate & Marketing Communication focuses on strategy, and specifically strategic marketing. Students learn about internal and external communication; integrated marketing and communication tools; communication abilities necessary at all levels of business; and how to write a press release and run a blog. Storytelling, branding, and digital marketing are crucial when considering how to go to market—all of which the program covers.
Again, we come back to this program’s practical nature—you can learn tactics along the way, but to be leaders in communication, we have to approach the industry from a strategist’s mind. The same goes for entrepreneurship. You’ve got to have the vision and the plan, and from there you can put the plan in motion.
Given that, what kind of students are you looking to attract to this program?
We want people to come to this program eager to learn how to communicate with sincerity, honesty and efficiency. In modern communications, we are faced with a lack of these qualities, whether it’s with politicians or big institutions or any other break in cooperation. The problems we have, I believe, come from a lack of proper communication and inability to bridge these gaps for appropriate accountability. I want students who are passionate about building this up for the future and ready to dive deep into communications of all sorts to build a better world.
This interview was conducted by Raine Lester. Raine grew up in Vancouver, Canada, and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology at the University of Western Ontario while working in music and event promotion. After graduating, she took the plunge and moved to Shanghai, where she began her professional journey. In her time in China, Raine worked on both brand and agency side for hospitality, sports, and entertainment companies, focusing on corporate communications and public relations. She is now pursuing the Master in Corporate & Marketing Communication to connect her experience in Asia to the Western market.