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The Importance of Soft Skills in Marketing Education from NUS Professor Ph.D. Samer El Hajjar

Ph.D. Samer Elhajjar

In the competitive field of marketing, the balance between soft skills and technical knowledge is crucial.

A conversation with a Marketing Strategy professor sheds light on this subject, revealing valuable insights for both educators and students in the field of marketing.

Journey to NUS and Career Path

Getting into NUS

Samer El Hajjar’s journey began unexpectedly with their acceptance into the National University of Singapore (NUS), one of Singapore’s top universities. Dr. El Hajjar moved from Lebanon during an economic crisis, seizing the opportunity offered by NUS. This decision marked the start of a significant career shift.

Overcoming Challenges: From Lebanon to NUS

In the competitive field of marketing, the balance between soft skills and technical knowledge is crucial. A conversation with Dr. El Hajjar sheds light on this subject, revealing valuable insights for both educators and students in the field of marketing.

In a world where education and career paths are often unpredictable, Dr. El Hajjar story stands out. He didn’t initially plan to study at NUS, one of Singapore’s top universities.

Yet, fate had other plans. “It wasn’t in my plan, I can tell you that,” he recalls. Amidst the economic crisis in Lebanon, the offer from NUS presented an unexpected opportunity.

“I realized I had to move when I received the offer from Singapore,” he shares, highlighting the sometimes unforeseen nature of life’s journey.

Dr Pocchiari believes in developing both soft and technical skills. “A successful digital marketer needs adaptability, tech-savviness, creative problem-solving, and an understanding of consumer psychology,” she states. Her teaching ensures students are well-rounded and prepared for further specialization..

Moving from Lebanon to Singapore feels like entering a completely different world. The cultural, educational, and professional landscapes are distinct from what he’s known, making this transition more than just a change of address. It’s an exploration of a new life where every aspect, from culture to education and work, unfolds as a fascinating journey of discovery.


Teaching Marketing Strategy at NUS

Currently, Dr. El Hajjar teaches at NUS, focusing on Marketing Strategy. His approach is comprehensive, encompassing all platforms and outlets.

This broad perspective is crucial in today’s diverse and dynamic marketing landscape. Dr. El Hajjar likely provides students with a holistic understanding of how to plan, execute, and analyze marketing initiatives across different channels. The emphasis on all platforms and outlets suggests an acknowledgment of the multi-faceted nature of modern marketing, where strategies need to be adaptable to various mediums such as digital platforms, traditional media, and emerging technologies.

Teaching Philosophy: Emphasis on Soft Skills

The Value of Creativity and Innovation

In the Dr. El Hajjar’s classes, creativity and innovation are paramount. While technical skills like digital analytics and SEO are important, they are easier to acquire than creativity and innovation.

He argues that in the competitive marketing industry, standing out with unique strategies and plans is essential for success.

NUS Professor Ph.D.Martina Pocchiari’s Approach to Digital Marketing Education

According to Dr. El Hajjar, merely possessing technical proficiency is insufficient; what truly distinguishes successful professionals is their ability to devise and implement unique strategies and plans that capture attention and yield results in an ever-evolving business environment. In this context, Dr. El Hajjar underscores the pivotal role of creativity and innovation as catalysts for achieving prominence and success in the dynamic field of marketing.

The Importance of Soft Skills in Marketing

Dr. El Hajjar emphasizes the importance of soft skills over technical skills in marketing. “At least, they should have communication skills and soft skills, so they can express their ideas and work well in teams,” he says.

He believes that creativity, innovation, and effective communication are more critical than technical prowess. “Technical skills are easier to acquire,” he notes, stressing that marketing success hinges on out-of-the-box thinking and creative strategies.

Enhancing Creativity and Communication in Students

When it comes to nurturing student creativity, Dr. El Hajjar is adamant that students already possess basic skills for visualization and presentation. The real challenge lies in teaching them to persuade others with their ideas. “Critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills are what we need to develop,” he states, emphasizing the importance of these soft skills.the Dr. El Hajjar’s approach centers on equipping students not only with the ability to conceive creative concepts but also with the skills to effectively convey and advocate for those ideas.

By prioritizing critical thinking, creativity, and communication, he aims to empower students with a well-rounded skill set that is not only valuable in academic settings but also essential for success in the broader professional landscape.


The Role of Technical Skills in Marketing

Despite his focus on soft skills, Dr. El Hajjar acknowledges the importance of technical skills. He agrees that to put creative ideas into practice, a certain level of technical ability is necessary. However, he maintains that the foundation of marketing lies in soft skills like critical thinking. “If you have the logic and rationale, everything else will follow,” he argues.

Dr. El Hajjar advocates for a balanced approach where soft skills, especially critical thinking, serve as the guiding force for the acquisition and application of technical skills.

His perspective reflects a nuanced understanding.

While technical proficiency is indispensable, it is most impactful when complemented by a strong foundation in soft skills, ensuring a holistic and effective approach to navigating the dynamic landscape of marketing.

The Free Training Program @ NTU! (link)

Dr. El Hajjar argues that in the competitive marketing industry, standing out with unique strategies and plans is essential for success. This seems to be the common understanding among marketing experts. Technical skills is not enough. You must combine technical expertise with creativity and the ability to communicate your ideas across.


The Importance of Real-World Experience

Dr. El Hajjar highlights the value of real-world projects and case studies in education, suggesting that a third-party educational entity should focus on practical application.

“There are things people can’t learn without hands-on experience,” he points out, stressing the need for exposure to real-world challenges to develop skills like emotional intelligence. The acquisition of skills, such as emotional intelligence, is often best honed through direct engagement with real-world scenarios, necessitates a departure from traditional theoretical teaching methods.

Dr. El Hajjar’s perspective reflects a belief that education should extend beyond theoretical concepts to instill in students a deep understanding derived from navigating the complexities of authentic, practical situations. In aligning educational content with real-world experiences. He aims to equip learners not only with theoretical knowledge but also with the practical acumen required to navigate the challenges and nuances of professional environments.

He advocates for a paradigm shift towards a more experiential and application-oriented educational model to better prepare individuals for the demands of the real-world professional landscape.


Advice for Educators in Singapore

For educators in Singapore, Dr. El Hajjar recommends focusing on soft skills, such as collaborative work, effective communication, and negotiation. “These are crucial skills,” he notes. He also suggests that while technical skills like programming and analytics are important, they should be complemented by strong soft skills development.

Dr. El Hajjar’s journey from Lebanon to Singapore and the United States, along with his insights into marketing education, underscore the evolving nature of marketing and education.

By prioritizing the development of soft skills alongside essential technical knowledge, he advocates for a holistic approach to preparing students for the multifaceted challenges of the marketing world.

Where creativity is as or more important than technical proficiency.

Recognizing that success in the dynamic field of marketing requires more than just technical proficiency, he places a strong emphasis on cultivating soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, communication, and problem-solving abilities.

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, where adapting to the changing demands of the marketplace is crucial, Dr. El Hajjar’s perspectives offer valuable guidance. His approach suggests that educators should go beyond traditional teaching methods and embrace a more comprehensive model that addresses both the theoretical and practical aspects of the industry. By doing so, students are not only equipped with the necessary technical expertise but also empowered with the interpersonal and adaptive skills essential for navigating the complexities of the modern marketing environment.

Dr. El Hajjar’s philosophy reflects a forward-thinking stance on education, emphasizing the importance of a well-rounded skill set that goes beyond the confines of textbooks. As the professional landscape continues to transform, his insights provide a roadmap for educators and students to navigate the evolving demands of the marketplace successfully.