Hussain Aziz Sham is enrolled in the Masters in Marketing program, a member of the Student IT Advisory Board, a Graduate Student Assistant in the GGU eLearning Department, and vice president of the GGU Marketing Club.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It’s a well-known proverb by Lao Tzu but indicative of the start of my personal and professional journey toward becoming a Brand Manager at a luxury brand company. Last August, I arrived at GGU in San Francisco with blessings from loved ones and lots of excitement – much like my fellow international students who come from India, or China or the Middle East. I was born and raised in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, but I am Indian by ethnicity. Like many other students who come to GGU, I am experienced in my field with five years of managerial experience. I spent the last two and a half years at a company called RK Swamy BBDO in Mumbai, India.
San Francisco by Design
As an international student, you can expect to be asked why you chose GGU. First of all, GGU is in the heart of the city. In the Financial District, I am walking distance from the most “happening” business in San Francisco like Salesforce, Twitter, LinkedIn, Deloitte and JP Morgan.
If you are a design snob like me, you will truly appreciate the complex and modern architecture of the city. From traditional and historical landmarks like the Palace of Fine Arts, City Hall, and Civic Center to the ultra-modern buildings like the Salesforce Tower, Transamerica Pyramid and the skyscrapers of the Financial District. The city also offers an array of fun and exciting attractions and activities like the Pier 39, the Dungeon of SF, night tours of the Alcatraz Island, Lands’ End, Red Wood Forest, and the walking tours of the city.
GGU student body is a global and diverse community. You will have the chance to meet, collaborate and make friendship with students who come from all over the world – India, the Middle East, China, and others — and bring their unique experience into classroom discussions and projects.
I am now in my second term of the Masters in Marketing program, and I am very busy. I am a member of the Student IT Advisory Board, a Graduate Student Assistant in the GGU eLearning Department, and vice president of the GGU Marketing Club. The members of the club and I will be participating in the Marketing Edge competition this year, which challenges student teams to produce a marketing plan to solve a real marketing problem posed by a real company.
I also answer the “Why GGU?” question by saying an education here not only offers you a stepping stone into your desired field of interest but also gives you a chance to have an all-around development in your personal and professional aspects of your life. GGU offers a professional atmosphere to learn and grow in your field of interest. I would describe it as an intimate learning experience because of its relatively small class sizes and case-study teaching method that encourages us to interact with each other and professors.
The comprehensive curriculum is taught by experienced industry professionals and headliners in their respective areas of expertise. Professor Blodwen Tarter, who is Chair and Professor of Marketing and Public Relations programs, truly inspires me. Her passion for marketing is infectious, and my conversations with her turn into brainstorming sessions. Another professor who has made a difference to me is Professor Heather Cowan-Spiegel, who is the Director of Learning and Organization Development at Autodesk. Her classes are highly interactive and thought-provoking, helping us become better team members.
The Art of Networking
An important part of the American professional culture is the art of networking. This skill helps you enhance your industry knowledge and build symbiotic relations with professionals in your field. Like many other international students, networking was a foreign concept to me. GGU’s Office of Career Planning helps students like me to develop that skill through the “Networking Bootcamp” workshops, and organize online and on-campus networking and recruiter panel events. It’s a good place to practice and become comfortable with this newly acquired skill.
These workshops have given me the confidence to attend career and professional development events organized by the Lagrant Foundation at a huge PR agency called Weber Shandwick and innovative mega-firm Hitachi. These meetups were a great opportunity to peek into the real world of marketing and gain technical know-how on new industry trends and skills needed – for example, in digital marketing, content management, mobile marketing or any other area that might be of interest to you.
Mobile and Luxury Marketing
Another networking event was the 2017 Connected Marketers Summit. This event was specific to Mobile Marketing and a great chance to understand its applications in various industries — from pharma to retail. At this event, I had the opportunity to meet with Brian Wong who is the CEO and Founder of Kiip: a mobile app platform company that rewards its users when they complete a task. For example, when you finish a three-mile run, you might receive a notification saying “Congrats on completing your daily target, here is a $10 coupon from Jamba Juice. Redeem it via our app.” Kiip is a platform that enables all kinds of brands to make very specific offers directly to consumers in the context of their daily lives. Interesting, right?
One of my keen areas of interest is marketing luxury products or services. The Connected Marketers Summit got me thinking about the application of mobile marketing in the luxury segment. A common challenge with any premium service is to generate the psychological perception of exclusivity and high status. The personal and in-person communication that is fundamental to luxury marketing is a critical part of marketing in this segment but is often absent in the mobile experience. Can mobile marketing provide that kind of experience for the luxury customer? This question is on my mind, and I will be researching this matter in detail throughout my degree program.
If you have any questions about being an international student at GGU, connect with me on LinkedIn!