Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education; it’s a topic we hear the pollies debate on over again and again, but as creatives is it really something that affects our careers or professional advancement? Will Berryman, the CEO of digital solutions company Hostworks, argues STEM education is the future of media and marketing careers.
While you may not have used Pythagoras’ theorem since the eighth grade, STEM education is critical to the success of all careers, interestingly this includes the media and marketing space.
The current focus on upping STEM adoption in Australian schools is an effort to ensure our next generation has the necessary skills to compete on the global playing field.
The subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths are typically seen as pathways to fields like medicine, law, software development and mechanical engineering. But in today’s data-fuelled, technology-driven world the importance of these subjects to the creative mindset is also growing quickly.
Looking back to 20 years ago, the industries that promised prosperity and opportunity have changed. We now exist in a global marketplace where innovation and creativity thrive, and to be successful you must think outside the pre-conditioned box.
Now it takes technology, data, analytics, and insights to bring to life the fantastic, brave and bold ideas that make a campaign impactful. A quick look at the winners of this year’s Cannes Lions and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
As the marketing portfolio expands to cater to new channels, platforms, diversities and ethnicities, it is an understanding of STEM subjects that allows a brand to bring creative, imaginative ideas into the real world and make them work. The study of STEM isn’t about being a mad scientist, but about enabling yourself to make real, measurable change and do something different.
So before you snub the chance to develop yourself professionally in the areas of STEM, argue that you’ve never used anything from your maths class, or encourage your interns to drop that science class, I challenge you to consider the value of STEM education to a media and marketing career.
We should all be considering how to think differently and build on what’s possible, and an interest in STEM subjects is the key to doing so.
1. STEM is the birthplace of creativity
While many of the techniques we use to tell a story are modern and new, creativity isn’t; particularly if we look at science.
Scientists were the world’s first dreamers. Take for example Einstein; it was only through extreme imagination and creativity that he formulated the theory of relatively.
What made his ideas noteworthy was the ability to think logically about how to bring the creative idea to life and quantify its existence.
When we apply scientific thinking to a creative challenge, we hypothesize, test, prove, get feedback and change things so that we create a formula that ticks all the boxes.
Media and marketing professionals use their experience and understanding of the market to advise clients, thus successful campaigns and sound strategic advice follow this same pattern of test and succeed.
2. STEM keeps you ahead of the curve
Analytics are some of the greatest tools marketers have at their disposal. You need a comfort with maths to understand what analytics show, and to use this data to predict where trends are going.
Applying this data to the idea generation process also helps to sell ideas into a client with conviction, as there is solid reasoning for the proposal put forward.
The study of STEM isn’t about becoming a scientist or mathematician, but rather developing an understanding for the possibilities in our hands, and how to use this data to create something marvellous.
3. STEM allows you to invent the next great idea
As this dependence on and integration of technology continues, marketers must ensure they are skilled in areas like coding, platform development, and software engineering to not only know what’s possible but how to invent what is not.
Other than keeping business revenue within the company, STEM allows your team to create platforms and products that haven’t yet been created. It allows brands to stand out and tell stories in ways previously unheard. With an understanding of technology and engineering, anything is possible because you can create it.
4.STEM enables you to prove your worth
A basic comfort with STEM subjects is critical as you look to measure the value and depth of the work you create.
From audience reach to engagement, shareability, click-throughs, and purchases, numbers allow you to analyse whether a campaign has made an impact. The ability to show this is a core to good business sense and the proving the value and expertise of your team.
From sign off on a big budget, to adding head count, entering into a new platform or developing a new application, each comes down to proving worth and reasoning, which is done through a correct assessment of insights and expected ROI.
5. STEM allows you to manage your team
When we think capacity or team strengths, we don’t think STEM but we should be. An understanding of STEM subjects allows us to assess where a team’s strengths lie and hire accordingly. It also allows us to forecast, predict workloads, manage expectations and hire, ultimately creating a happier, more engaged workplace.
6. STEM makes you (even more) interesting
While many of us don’t need an education in STEM to be interesting, it does enable you to be curious and think outside the ways you’ve been taught; which arguably makes you a more interesting individual.
In the modern workplace many of us have received the same education and as a result we think the same as our peers. Studying the processes and methodologies of others (such as scientists) who’ve found great success in creativity, enables us to apply different methods to our own thinking and create ideas that challenge the status quo.