A veteran of the education industry, we sat down with Jovan Lin, the current assistant vice president for marketing of PSB Academy, to get to know more about the career journey and the leadership of a marketing head in the higher education sector.
Jovan may have spent more than a decade in the industry, but one wouldn’t imagine where he actually began his professional career – in construction. Through a combination of having the right opportunity and making the best of it, Jovan’s career in marketing soon took off.
He started out as a student recruitment officer and a sales manager for academies that focused on providing IT and psychology education respectively. His transition was something of a slow but sure process, where he gradually took on marketing functions before fully foraying as a marketer.
From managing projects in construction to crafting campaigns
Recalling his days in the construction line as his first step into the professional world, he shares that at the time, he had to drive the company’s lorry to fetch workers to sites and coordinate tasks under the sun and the rain, and this is all the while attending his part-time degree classes all sweaty and smelly.
It was until Jovan got the opportunity to enter the education industry that he realized it’s the job fit that determines if you can attain some level of success.
From recruitment and sales roles, he gradually went on to becoming a full-fledged marketing manager at Kaplan Singapore. Before finally landing his position at PSB Academy Jovan had also become the head of product marketing of Management Development Institute of Singapore.
Jovan shared that more than anything, his initial stages in sales as a recruitment officer are what laid the foundation for him to become the marketer he is today. For him, his biggest mentor had been the marketing director that helped him fully realize his marketer role, Emily Han.
“I was there on the ground talking to prospective students, their parents, and that’s where I had the common understanding of what [the needs], the [desires], and wants of prospective students [are]. I think that really helped me in my campaigns and try to create content that really resonates with [the] target audience,” said Jovan in the MARKETECH Mondays interview.
The crucial moment [in my career] was my ex-boss who took a risk on me to take me into a full-fledged marketing role, so that really transformed my career to which I’m fortunate to stick by.On his mentor Emily Han
Jovan remembers the campaign that really had an impact on him during the early years of his marketing career, making him realize how far he is from the knowledge and skills needed for the job.
Jovan had to create an online lead generation campaign and went through the usual process of working with a creative agency to develop the assets and creating the campaign brief. When the ads were launched and when he was served the ad on Google network and was beaming with joy as he shared it with his boss.
Interestingly, Jovan shared what happened next, “She replied, good work but you probably [have] seen it because you were retargeted! After which I thought, why should I be seeing this ad when I am not even considered a relevant target audience for this course?”
Since then, through this quite naive experience, Jovan began to explore deeper the context of performance marketing, things such as creating audience lists for exclusion, and also relying on first-party data to create more relevant reach.
“I wouldn’t say this is the first campaign, but it is one that I still laughed at myself, but it is sort of an important milestone that shaped my principles and beliefs on marketing,” said Jovan.
As a marketing leader: “I have to trust myself in order for me trust my colleagues”
As the current assistant vice president for marketing at PSB Academy, Jovan oversees the full marketing and implementing strategies that align with the business direction.
As a leader, Jovan’s main philosophy is putting trust in the team. Jovan believes that at the end of the day, everyone makes mistakes and that working harmoniously among the team means succeeding and learning from mistakes together.
I have to trust myself obviously in order for me to know and translate that trust to my colleagues.On leadership
Jovan’s definition of successes and failures also evolved as he grew both in life and career. He speaks of metrics for success, and how these have gradually changed from something tangible such as target number of leads and then slowly changing to subsequent metrics such as quality of said leads as he gains more knowledge and skill set.
But Jovan says that as you grow with times, you’ll find that they are indeed important measures that define the level of business success, but that there is also a much more valuable impact amid marketing to students, one that is slightly less tangible.
“What matters to me right now is what [social] impact I can deliver to my peers, my colleagues, and even to a certain extent, the students,” said Jovan.
He adds, “When you see certain students going through the education system, and [until] they [graduate], you kinda feel there is this self-achievement, and [you think], there must have been certain things you’ve done in marketing that influenced that choice.”
Jovan on pandemic-induced shifts: a time to shape the future of education
With the education industry worldwide taking a hit from the drastic changes brought by the pandemic, Jovan believes that the biggest question of all is what would the future of education now look like.
Will online classes now be the norm? Shall students go back to the traditional face-to-face classes when nations recover, or must it be hybrid now?
The challenge right now for every educational institution is how to look beyond this pandemic for the future of education.On the challenge of higher education institutions amid the pandemic
He also emphasizes that digital today is seeing great transformation taking in all forms and shapes and at a very fast speed due to the pandemic.
Jovan believes that we may not have all the answers right, but it also spells an exciting time to redefine the future of education.
“We are in an exciting [time] as I see this period as the moment that may shape the future of education.”
Jovan to aspiring marketers: “Marketing is forever changing”
With more than a decade of experience under his belt, Jovan has some advice for those who wish to enter and succeed in the marketing industry, and he breaks them into two: marketing as a profession and marketing as an attitude.
First and foremost, he puts out the most important truth of all, and what serves as the umbrella for all relevant principles in the profession, and that is “Marketing is forever changing.”
As a profession, Jovan says that data is now the name of the game. A lot of technological advancements have emerged when the digital age saw its birth, and now, long gone are the days of who has the biggest print ad or newspaper ad.
“Obviously with more tools, data plays a very important role and as marketers, we need to be data-savvy, we need to be able to make sense of data, [and] this is a critical skill set that marketers should invest in,” says Jovan.
However, with more and more platforms, tools, and solutions made available for advertisers, it is easy to get into the trap of chasing one’s own tail because you would want to chase the next big thing in marketing. With this, Jovan says it’s important to not lose sight of the fundamental principles of marketing, and that is placing the consumer at the heart of your strategy and making sure content is developed with their specific needs and behavior in mind.
At the end of the day, marketing is really about engaging your audience or customers. Whatever we do, we have to place them at the heart of all things.On his advice to aspiring marketers
Jovan adds, “Just ask yourself, what do you think your audience wants to see or read or hear, and then from then on, how do you actually create a journey and experience you feel that your audience would be able to engage and enjoy.”
Now when it comes to attitude, Jovan admits that he himself has not maintained a positive mindset consistently for the past 10 years of being a marketer.
He says what’s important is “possessing the right attitude to allow you to approach your work the right way.”
Being a marketer is a journey, you [will be] [experiencing] ups and downs. Nobody can win all the time, and when you fail, I think that is when you learn.Jovan says to those who wish to enter and make a name in marketing
Ultimately he says, “Continuously be open to critics because they will never go away, be open to suggestions as well, and continue to work hard and smart.”
Listen to the full podcast of the interview with Jovan on Spotify:
This interview was done in partnership with Siteimprove. Siteimprove is a global SaaS solution that helps organizations achieve their digital potential by empowering their teams with actionable insights to deliver a superior website experience and drive growth.