Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Grace Mantilla

By Academy Xi

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Interior designer turned visual merchandiser Grace Mantilla is carving a new career in digital marketing. A creative at heart, she’s now helping a non-profit build their brand and online presence. 

Read our chat with her as she shares her story and journey in the digital marketing space.

Tell us about you Grace, your personal and professional career? How did you start? 

My first professional dream was to become an Interior Designer which I managed to achieve when I was living in the Philippines. When I migrated to Australia in 2010, I struggled getting in the same field. To gain work experience, I decided to apply for a role in retail. I became a sales associate and found myself getting naturally appointed to become the in-store Visual Merchandiser. I was blessed with a manager who recognised my skills and urged me to follow that path. Since then, I have been doing Visual Merchandising as a full-time role, as well as contracting individual projects as a freelancer.

What made you decide on upskilling?

I have always been a learner, a consistent student, as my friends would call me. I like to learn new things and challenge myself. Every time I feel that life gets boring, I entertain myself through education. Before the pandemic hit, I was already contemplating on upskilling and hoping to carve a new career path. When the world took a stand still in 2020, I took that as an opportunity to pick a course to study and enrol. I found myself getting immersed in Digital Marketing.

Why did you choose Xi and what made you choose your course?

I was initially interested in learning UX Design. I remember going to one of Academy Xi’s info nights in Sydney to dip my toe in the water. However, I found the learning curve steep, so I decided to switch to Digital Marketing. Plus, a friend of mine suggested it too. 

There were a lot of online courses offering Digital Marketing. I attended a few free intro courses with different organisations and read reviews about several institutions before deciding. I found myself genuinely interested in learning Strategies, Content and Social Media – three areas where I would like to focus my attention. 

To be honest, I cannot even remember why I chose Academy Xi. All I know is that it felt right and somehow the institution made me feel that I belong. I love how they have built a good community of learners and mentors.

The course was very extensive, and I learned more than I expected. It was exciting!

Tell us what you enjoyed most about the whole experience

I found myself looking forward to our Monday night sessions with my classmates and mentor. It was tough to understand the theories at first, but the activities and assessments helped in applying what we have learned so far. The part I enjoyed the most was  the team projects where we worked with real-life clients. I was excited to put my learnings into action! Whilst it was nerve wracking to speak and present to a client, it was rewarding at the same time. Those mini achievements meant so much to me and our team, as well as our mentor.

Were there any personal or professional obstacles that you had to overcome to complete your studies?

I was very blessed to have supportive family, friends, and teammates. Apart from a few concepts and theories that are harder to comprehend (I’m looking at you Programmatic Advertising and Finance Calculations), I feel all went well while I studied. Our mentor was approachable and always ready to give me a hand whenever I get stuck.

Tell us more about what you’re doing at the moment. 

While working part time, I am participating in Academy Xi’s Outcomes Program and hoping to land a role in Digital Marketing. I am starting to expand my network connections on LinkedIn and connect with like-minded people (If that is you, hit connect and send me a note! Here’s my LinkedIn profile!). Oh, and I do yoga daily. It is one of my new year’s resolutions to practice every day for a whole year. Wish me luck!

Has the content you have learnt been useful in your career? Could you give an example of how/where you used the knowledge learnt?

All the content that I have learnt is useful in building my career as a Digital Marketer. It has given me confidence to carve a new path and continue my journey. To keep myself busy and to continually apply my learnings, I am helping a non-profit start-up company build their website and brand awareness online through social media. If you are curious, follow Alt Coffee Beans on Instagram and Facebook to see our progress, although it is very much in its early stages. 

What are your plans for the future?

I am focusing most of my energy on landing a role in Digital Marketing and working on the non-profit project. Whilst my priority is to land a full-time role, I am also open to internships and expanding my experience in an office environment. Continually learning, getting better and sharpening my skills.

Any advice or tips you would like to pass on to our current and future students?

If I am to give any advice for future and current students, it would be to never give up. Yes, it is a cliché, yet one that is also true. Education is an achievement that cannot be taken from you and continuously learning is a gift. Every step you take towards your goal is worth it. Believe in yourself and soon you will find that you are a better person today than you were yesterday.  As for tips? Ask. Always!

Interested in any of our Digital Marketing courses? Whether you’re looking to upskill or completely change your career, we have the right course for you. Explore our Digital Marketing courses today.

Academy Xi Blog

Why I did the Digital Marketing Course at Academy Xi

By Olivia Bowden

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As the marketing landscape continues to evolve and the industry attracts talent from all backgrounds, the need to have the right skills as a marketer will also be more demanding. 

This was the case for Olivia Bowden, who works in our Corporate Partnerships team, and just recently graduated from our Digital Marketing Transform course. Read below as she shares her journey and experience one month after finishing the course. 

For quite some time I’ve known that I needed to add deep technical skills to my repertoire. It isn’t a question of whether my career journey to date has required certain expertise and knowledge- it has. 

I’ve worked across relationship and project management, public relations and sales. Each of these roles required their own raft of skills but there was a persistent voice in the back of my mind saying, “How do you plan to future-proof your career?”. 

While few of us can confidently say that our current role will be relevant in the future, we can ensure that the skills we bring to the table are. 

“I decided to take control of my future career.”

Although I thought that I’d always had a certain aptitude for marketing, I was also aware of just how much the marketing landscape has changed over the past decade. The average person today is estimated to see 5,000 ads per day. While I had studied public relations and journalism at university in the 2000s, the modern workplace requires marketers to create digital customer journeys, analyse data, optimise campaigns and support the broader CX strategy. I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. 

Like many others, it was the pandemic that gave me the push I needed to instigate a career pivot. I suddenly found myself with more spare time than ever before and by that stage, I had “done all of Kensington” (no, not Brighton). I knew that Academy Xi had recently launched their Digital Marketing Transform course designed to help people become digital marketers – and I wanted in.

Formalising my Digital Marketing journey

Embarking on a 24-week long journey was both compelling and intimidating. I thought often about how I was going to remain determined, grounded and show grit over a six month-long learning experience. I hadn’t studied so intensively in the ten years since I graduated in 2011. The first live, virtual workshop thankfully quelled my concerns. After ninety minutes of connecting with my mentor and classmates and being shown the breadth of the upcoming course, I felt like I had made the right choice for me at the right time. 

In the six months that followed, our class met every Monday night. I can compare these workshops to going to the gym. After a busy Monday at work, you don’t always feel like walking through the door but you never regret having done the workout. Thanks to a one-of-a-kind mentor (an expert digital marketer herself), I would invariably find the workshops stimulating, absorbing and energising. 

I also began to get a flavour for the kind of digital marketer I wanted to be as we worked our way through modules, client projects and portfolio development. 

Collaboration, real clients, and real team projects

Even though my decision to study again was driven by career goals, the highlight of the course for me was social. I studied with a terrific group of like-minded folk from a range of professional backgrounds. The second half of the course is divided into two, individual client projects (each six weeks long) where Academy Xi sourced real businesses to brief us on a digital marketing ‘problem’ they were experiencing. My first client didn’t have any real marketing strategy whereas my second client needed help to optimise their existing activities.

The highlight of this portion of the course for me was that I had the chance to work in two small groups. Not only did I find this fun but it is also where my greatest learnings took place. Where one of us excelled in visual communication, the other was a brilliant copywriter. One person may wear a predominantly strategic hat and the other would design a full social media campaign. It was this sharing of knowledge and skills that is for me by far the greatest takeaway from the program.

“As I now move into a full-time marketing role, my decision to take on such an intensive program feels validated.” 

It is my opinion that there is no better way to learn than on the job. That said, the Digital Marketing Transform course has set me up perfectly to take up this new challenge and get “on the tools” straight away. I have the confidence and skillset to make an immediate impact.

The driver for me was to help future-proof my career. It took me a couple of years to actually make the decision to upskill but I won’t be procrastinating for that length of time again. I know that the modern workforce demands continuous growth, flexibility and adaptation. More importantly, however, I now know that I am capable of instigating that kind of change for myself.

Whether you’re looking to upskill or completely change your career, Academy Xi has the right course for you. Explore our Digital Marketing courses today.


Academy Xi Blog

Why Marketing degrees are often out-dated

By Leola Small

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I’ve been in marketing for 20 years now. I started in a shop-front business which was part of a global conglomerate. A lot of our Marketing Strategy and efforts were driven from our parent company based in the USA. I recall having shared folders and waiting for them to upload promotional campaign collateral for our offices to print and place at our POS and window displays. Back then I thought it was so easy.

Four years into that role saw me become the Head of Marketing at a very young age. Looking back at the role I had, I was basically a Marketing Coordinator for Australia. I took direction from the US and formatted the collateral to fit AU standards and ensured marketing campaigns were running, the sales team had the right sales tools and was the point of contact for inbound enquiries.

You could say that I “fell into” Marketing, and although it certainly wasn’t planned, I found that I enjoyed what I was doing and that I was good at it. Having said that, Marketing is a totally different ball game to what it was then.

I ended up studying Marketing part time while working as I wanted to learn more about the fundamentals. It served me well then, and I felt I understood broader marketing as a concept for various markets and audiences.

That was 15 years ago.

If I walked into a Marketing interview now (in 2021) with the knowledge I had learned while studying in 2006 – I absolutely would not get the job. Heck, I wouldn’t hire me!

So what does that mean for traditional education and degrees? Are they still relevant? Do you need a degree to get a job in Marketing?

As a Marketing Manager, these are the 5 things I consider when hiring:

  1. Passion and Curiosity – My favourite values. Over the years I’ve come to value passion and curiosity so much more. I know I can teach someone a new skill, but I can’t teach them to be passionate about it, or instill curiosity to want to learn more. Lifelong learners are my kind of people.
  2. Relevant & Timely Study – Believe it or not, I never look at degrees or qualifications. The reason I don’t is because I know that marketing, especially Digital Marketing, is continuously evolving. The theory you learned 15 years ago (or even 5 years ago!) is either out-dated or has improved. Look at shorter industry-recognised courses which teach content that is on-trend and up to date – such as the rise of influencers, social media marketing and Google Certifications.
  3. Technology Adoption – This one is quite important when seeking new talent for your Marketing team. Tech adoption matters because it identifies your ability to learn new technologies, if you’re tech-agnostic and it can also provide a gauge as to how quickly you might grasp a new system. Martech is constantly evolving and you should be across most technology, with at least an understanding of the function they perform.
  4. Practical Experience – This is a tricky one, especially for applicants who have never worked in Marketing before. But if you can demonstrate that you’ve used marketing principles or concepts before and understand the logic behind it, then you’re one step closer. You just need to be able to nail your pitch around Marketing Strategy or a Marketing Plan – if you can demonstrate your understanding and explain it in practical terms you’re on the right track.
  5. Cultural fit – I didn’t realise how important cultural fit was until I started building larger teams. This (in my opinion) is just as important as experience. You can hire the most skilled person to do the job, but if they don’t work well with the team, it’ll fall apart.

So, do you need a traditional qualification to work in Marketing? The short answer is no, but  you do need to understand relevant and up-to-date marketing concepts, trends and technology.

Good luck!

Academy Xi Blog

3 practical steps for driving CX success as a Digital Marketer

By Joshua Price

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“Today’s consumers do not differentiate between a brand experience and customer experience. As a result, CX and marketing teams must work together to develop a unified vision and align resources to connect the brand promise and experience with the customer experience.” – Source: Forrester

In an increasingly competitive industry, companies are turning to Customer Experience frameworks to help differentiate their brand. Often defined as the sum total of a customer’s interactions and perceptions of a brand’s products and services, the responsibility for CX doesn’t sit solely within the Digital Marketing wheelhouse. However, Digital Marketing forms a pivotal part of implementing a CX strategy.

Most digital marketers are aware of the role CX plays in improving both brand perception and customer loyalty. What they’re lacking however, is the practical knowledge required to start driving CX success within their team and broader organisation. Here are three key concepts that serve as a starting point for delivering better customer experiences. 

#1 Getting your data right and data storytelling

The first step to creating a successful CX strategy is to make sure your data processes and strategy is correct. In the haste of developing CX that delights customers, an often overlooked need is the ability to measure if optimisations are having an impact. Are you capturing where your customers come from, and how they engage with your content? Do you have the right dashboards to properly analyse and present your key metrics? 

Once those key processes are in place, you can begin to analyse and draw customer insights from your data. Data is specifically essential in the ability to target, segment, and personalise content for audiences.

Being data-driven is certainly one of the most aspired-to business objectives, but it’s important to remember that not everyone has the ability to analyse and draw insights from data at a glance. That’s why data storytelling is one of the most important tools in the CX kit. Quite simply, data storytelling is the ability to communicate key insights in a simple and holistic way.


#2 Customer journey mapping

A customer journey map is a visual representation of not only touchpoints a customer has with your company, but also their changing thoughts, actions and goals as they move towards purchase. Typically a customer journey map will be sectioned into phases in the customer journey, from awareness, consideration, purchase, and retention. 

Amongst others, the key advantages to creating a customer journey map are:

  • Understanding what content is being delivered to your customer across different channels;
  • Providing much-needed context around what the customer is thinking at different phases of the journey so you can determine if the content you’re delivering is meeting the customers expectations; and 
  • Visualising the entire buyer lifecycle, to identify gaps or opportunities for better communication.


#3 Creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

A core concept for companies that adhere to the Agile framework, and one you may be familiar with, is the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This approach allows for the creation of a product with just enough features to be usable (viable) for customers, who then directly or indirectly provide feedback on the product. Using this approach, companies can avoid lengthy or unnecessary work.

While building an MVP is most common in software development, the technique can be just as effective when devising a CX strategy. Creating an MVP version of a customer journey optimisation, or new campaign launch, allows you to measure if what you are creating matches your customers expectations, or even better, exceeds them. This approach also ensures that you’re focusing your efforts on initiatives that work.

For Digital Marketers in particular, you could view MVPs as similar to an A/B test. Where a concept, process (or product of course), is tested in the market to determine feasibility for future resourcing and investment.

Whichever concept you decide to go with, it’s imperative for Digital Marketers and CX teams to ensure consistent and ongoing alignment of brand and customer experiences. Your business depends on it.


Looking for practical CX training? 

The Customer Experience Elevate course at Academy Xi is an online, 10-week part-time course geared towards providing you with the complete CX toolkit (including those mentioned above) to implement your CX strategy. Complement your existing professional expertise and boost your career with in-demand Customer Experience skills.