As we continue with our series on higher education industry leaders, our next interviewee is Dr. Tony Branda from the Lubin School of Business at Pace University.
Dr. Branda specializes in marketing analytics, a field in which he has completed extensive research and has received publication in a variety of outlets. Additionally, he holds a doctoral degree in marketing analytics and customer intelligence.
In addition to educating, Dr. Branda has served as Chief Data and Analytics Officer for many companies, and has performed advisory and consulting work as well. Dr. Branda is also the founder of the Analytics Hall of Fame.
In our interview, Dr. Branda discusses his thoughts on where marketing is heading inside and outside of the classroom.
1. How long have you been teaching marketing? What made you want to pursue it?
I have been teaching marketing for nearly ten years as an Industry Professor (non-academic) both at Pace, and I have taught at NYU SPS. I have always been a “knowledge transmitter,” and some folks have even nicknamed me “the lamp,” as I am often up on the latest content and topics in marketing, analytics, and data science.
One day, while at RBS as a CAO, I was giving a talk and one HR leader came up to me and said, “You have a gift for explaining things in a very professional interesting way.” I paused and said hmm, there is something to this, and I had heard that before. So, I began to pursue a doctorate in marketing and analytics to pursue my dream to be an industry professor while continuing to practice.
2. What is your favorite course to teach and why?
My favorite course to teach is Customer Intelligence and Analytics as that course has both conceptual discussions of new technologies such as AI and Marketing Technology coupled with a very applied project where I coach students through building a CRM and Marketing Automation and Digital Nervous system for a target firm. They say that teaching is learning as well, and I learn a ton by seeing students apply analytic solutions and technologies to company business problems.
3. Tell me a little bit about yourself (education background, any other relevant work experience). What types of organizations are you involved in?
I have been a Chief Data and Analytics officer for several large brands, including Citibank and RBS, and some mid-size fintech companies. Most of my focus has been on helping firms translate, build and evangelize data science methods, AI, Martech and AdTech to solve business problems.
I currently do consulting and advisory work with Accenture and CustomerIntelligence.net and am the founder of The Analytics Hall of Fame that was started by a group of analytics and data science experts.
4. What do you consider to be the most important and exciting aspect of the current state of marketing?
The level of change and opportunity created by new disruptive technologies to drive impact. There are so many solutions to drive business impact for nearly every scenario, and while this may be more complex to navigate, the opportunities for business growth are limitless.
The main challenge is getting the corporate cultures to adopt the technologies and stay the course when building them. I don’t believe in failure; with the right fortitude any technology can be stood up and deployed.
5. What types of research do you do as part of your role? How do you incorporate it into your coursework?
My research is primarily on Marketing Analytics topics and is published in the Journal of Marketing Analytics. Much of my research deals with the type of conditions that allow firms to be more analytical and use facts and data to make the best marketing decisions that drive better performance.
6. Where do you feel the future of marketing, particularly digital, is heading?
The future of marketing is AI and data science and more automation of capabilities and ways to engage the customer in their moments of need. This includes things like using chatbots to understand buying intent, along with AI and machine learning to help learn what the customer needs.
Algorithms and technology have only just begun to impact marketing. People think we are in a mature use of these data driven capabilities but if we are honest, we have merely scratched the surface.
7. With digital marketing changing at such a rapid pace, how do you see marketing being taught differently in the future?
In my class, we use digital gamification to flip the classroom learning paradigm by having students do some of the reading before class and to come in and compete and develop their knowledge in the form of gaming.
I believe we will see more automated learning devices in the classroom, such as real-time quizzes, speed learning and other ways to automate and get students involved with the content versus having students only listen to a 3-hour lecture. I find that the more I can get students engaged with the material through simulations, games, and labs, the more they learn.
8. What advice would you give to young marketing professionals?
I recommend that you do some soul searching by taking some assessments like StrengthsFinder to determine how you like to work and what your strengths are. Are you better at presenting and selling versus analyzing and decision making? The answers to these questions will help the professional to choose the right path where they can spread their wings and thrive.
I don’t recommend people only follow the shiny object or the next best thing. I recommend that in your early jobs, you do rotations in several different aspects of marketing to find your passion and understand your work style and strengths.