Oxbridge grads entering marketing on the up

The number of Oxford and Cambridge graduates entering the marketing profession is rising sharply, which industry figures claim is boosting perception of the discipline among graduates of the UK’s premier universities to same level as finance, law and medicine.


Cambridge’s post-graduation survey found that the number of graduates entering the marketing industry has doubled in the past four years. Oxford University was unable to provide numbers but industry sources have observed a similar uplift.

Procter & Gamble, which has one of the highest profile graduate programmes, says that it is seeing more applications for Oxbridge students year on year. Zaid Al-Qassab, marketing director for P&G Beauty and Grooming UK & Ireland, who leads marketing recruitment, says can only be a good thing for P&G’s business, and for the industry.

He adds: “Marketing has become a more influential career in the modern world, because in the digital age people are ‘always on’ media wise and marketing is something that affects life in many more ways each day than it used to. Marketing is also becoming a more positive source of interest and good.”

Sherilyn Shackell, founder of mentoring and coaching scheme The Marketing Academy, has noted a marked rise in the number of applicants from Oxford and Cambridge this year. More than 10% of the nominations for its scheme had degrees from Oxbridge, a significant uplift on previous years.

Marketers argue that social media and other digital channels as well as an increase in cause related and socially responsible marketing is boosting marketing’s profile as a career option.

David Thorp, director of research and professional development at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, says the shift will help subsequent generations view marketing as a profession enjoying the same status as the old established professions.

He says: “No other profession is so effectively straddling art and science in the way that marketing does. As such it is increasingly seen as an intellectually-demanding calling that is every bit the equal of the “traditional” career choices Oxbridge graduates formerly made … marketing now really does impact on every area of life both in the commercial, public and social spheres. It is an exciting prospect to be involved in a profession that is so interwoven within society.”

Marketing’s rising status as a profession for Oxbridge graduates is, however, also a result of banking becoming a less desirable path post financial crash.

Roy Hoolahan, managing director of recruitment specialist Ball and Hoolahan, says: “It’s economically driven not necessarily a correlation between an increase in Oxbridge applicants and the increasing appeal of marketing – but there is an opportunity for marketing to pick up some very good candidates and raise the bar.”

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