Students, clients excel after moving Live Client Learning course online

Completing the Winter Term online was a whirlwind experience for students in ADMS 4211 – Live Client Learning Marketing in the School of Administrative Studies. Now in its third year, this Live Client Learning (LCL) course is a fast-paced experiential and competitive program that allows a handful of students to participate in marketing challenges and provide creative solutions to leading companies.

Over the course of the semester, the students were split into two teams and worked with five clients – McDonald’s, Phillips, YMCA, ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi for client Quesada and Burn Media for client My Big Yellow Dirt Bag. Environics provided free PRIZM 5 data analytics for the participating teams.

At the end of term, faculty, alumni and industry clients typically gather to celebrate student marketers at the Live Client Learning Course Awards. This year, the event marked its first virtual version, which was aptly named “Socially Distanced but United” Online Awards evening.

The winning team for 2020, announced during the ceremony, was EurekaLab, who showed innovative solutions to their clients. For client judge Doug Rozon, from Phillips, team EurekaLab was able to remotely integrate its marketing strategy with the current needs of the client. “The work you did is very applicable to the work you are seeing in the world today,” he said.

Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt
Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt

Faculty judges for the competition were Professors Andreas Strebinger, Pilar Carbonell and Jodie Whelan. Speakers included Associate Vice-President Teaching and Learning, Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt, who provided opening remarks and Marketing Area Coordinator of School of Administrative Studies Professor Manfred Maute. Other guest speakers included Roger Oxenham, president CEO of Oxenham Consultants Inc., and Jim Green, vice-president, Environics.

As an experiential education course, LCL emphasizes real-world experiences that are both demanding and fulfilling for students. “This course is transformative for students, beyond soft skills, it provides a positive outlook for their future careers,” Maute said, during the ceremony.

Typically, after completing a month-long classroom portion with their professor, students would have been able to meet, interact and carry out the rest of their work onsite with clients, but the COVID-19 pandemic meant some of that work needed to be completed online – a task the two teams and clients adapted to well.

“I am proud to say that the class of 2020 have willingly embraced a new kind of learning and marched along despite the pandemic,” Course Director, Professor and organizer of the awards night, Pallavi Sodhi, said.

The course also facilitates unparalleled access to alumni and their networks. Tiana Noce, client judge for Burn Media’s My Yellow Dirt Bag, is an alumnus who took the course while studying at York in 2018. She has helped connect students with companies and notes the benefits of taking the course extend beyond just traditional networking, allowing for students to be imaginative in how they solve marketing tasks.

“Live Client Learning challenged me to find answers outside of the box. Students are pushed to think on their feet. There is never one right answer, but there is always a smarter answer. You operate between textbook and real-world business logic,” Noce said.

Sodhi’s role of fostering healthy competition and making sure students are equipped for the LCL course is the winning ingredient for their success, Noce said, noting she provided students with “tools to be their best.”

The course is Sodhi’s brainchild. She developed it three years ago with the help of fellow faculty to create an experiential learning opportunity that allows for students to enhance their marketing skillset and gain invaluable feedback from people already in the industry.

Her expertise and commitment to the program meant that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, students were able to navigate and complete their competitive submissions and presentations virtually, producing the same quality of work showcased in previous years.

Despite the movement of Summer and Fall term courses to digital formats, York University is committed to ensuring opportunities like LCL remain available to students. To that end,  Fisher-Stitt was pleased to provide a grant in the amount of $5,000, through the Academic Innovation Fund, with the aim of supporting further development of the Live Client Marketing course.

“At York, we place enormous value on the role of Experiential Education in our students’ education,” said Fisher-Stitt. “In our multi-faceted, fast-moving and truly global world, the collaboration between educators and employers is more important than ever. Programs like this, with its work-focused and community placements, help contribute to our students’ success. It is an invaluable experience, and I congratulate everyone who ensured this year’s opportunities remained available.”