Supporting NGOs, Improving Financial Literacy, and Environmental Cartoons: Graduate School of Business Students Defend Their Marketing Projects
On May 20, first-year master’s students in the Marketing: Digital Technologies and Marketing Communications programme defended their projects. The event was the final stage of the first joint project between Effie Russia and the HSE Graduate School of Business (GSB). The students tackled cases involving social and environmental problems.
MTS, Pyaterochka, McDonald’s Russia, VTB and IKEA are the biggest players to become partners in the project that launched in early spring. Students were divided into ten teams and worked with briefs developed by the companies.
‘We have been organizing project workshops in the form of consultation projects. Our students don’t take on imaginary cases, but work on relevant tasks from real companies,’ said Tatiana Vetrova, Academic Supervisor of the programme. ‘This year, the workshop has become a landmark event, because we brought on an institutional partner, Effie Russia, which is a marketing superstar.’
All projects shared a common theme of social and environmental problems. The students worked on tasks like helping a brand become socially responsible in the eyes of consumers and contributing to social welfare and generating profit at the same time.
‘I believe, this is a new phenomenon, in which businesses and non-profit organizations don’t walk alone, but can generate both profit and social value together,’ said Alexander Lebedev, Senior Lecturer at the Graduate School of Business and an Effie Russia jury member.
Alexander also admitted that he had always dreamt of bringing together academia and businesses. ‘Most of our graduates proceed to the business community, which places value on academic skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity,’ he said. ‘But business thinking is also essential. And to get this business thinking, one should learn from people who create real businesses in Russia.’
Collaboration between business and universities is a classic win-win situation, believes Ekaterina Son, CEO of Effie Awards Russia. She says the company shares its experience with students and contributes to the future. ‘We have lots of expertise related to key trends in business and marketing today. These trends determine the future, while students are the ones who will create this future tomorrow. That’s why we are willing to involve them in this forward-looking agenda before they enter the job market. In this way, they enter the market better prepared: it benefits both students and the market, since the market is getting first-rate experts who are already familiar with real practical things.’
Students’ works were reviewed by representatives from the brands. Of the ten teams, they chose three that created the best projects. The Pyaterochka ‘Caring for Everyone’ project took third place. Ilya Balakshin, Yulia Belyaeva, Anastasia Velikanova, Olga Makina, Alexey Samokhin and Diana Frumanova proposed creating equal access to services for people with disabilities by adapting the company’s delivery app.
Second place went to Victoria Bunina, Marina Kuzmina, Taisia Ovchinnikova, Anastasia Chuvaeva, Anastasia Osmolovskaya and Oleg Yugai with their project ‘Building a Local Eco-world’ for McDonald’s Russia.
‘We developed a comprehensive marketing strategy on sorting and utilizing the company’s packaging materials, since it’s a highly relevant topic for them: they sell a lot of packages,’ said Victoria Bunina, the team’s captain, as she shared the idea behind the project. ‘Our brief instructed us to increase consumers’ motivation to sort waste from packaging. We also had to develop a map of plants that are in a position to recycle and have sufficient resources and propose a 5,000-person volunteer programme.’
Students say that the company actively participated during the whole project, with staff listening to students’ ideas, giving advice and sharing information. ‘Our work is very creative, so first off, we improved our design thinking, creative thinking, the ability to visualize and package up our idea so that it’s clear, accessible and attractive for the company we are offering it to,’ Victoria said about the project’s educational value.
The jury awarded first place to the ‘Helping Hand’ project (for Pyaterochka). Polina Troshina, Anna Zotova, Anna Mishchenko, Yulia Novik, Maria Storozhenko and Ekaterina Kipervar said that the big idea behind their project was ‘to help a foundation that is trying to break the silence about the hidden pandemic of violence against children and improve relations between parents and kids.’
Overall, all of the student projects were given high marks by the jury.
Ekaterina Son, CEO of Effie Awards Russia
First of all, HSE University students are very creative people who have interesting ideas. Second, they are willing to collect a lot of information from various sources, which is also very good. They are probably taught this skill at HSE University—working with big data from different courses, how to process it, package it and apply it to one’s work.
And third, the students’ projects don’t contain mere verbiage but rather lots of substance. What makes HSE students special is their ability to see the big picture and to digitalize it. This is very cool.