Demetri Hughes has stepped down as Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) Queensland State Chair to take on a challenge close to his heart – heading one of Australia’s first mentor programs for promising marketing university students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The leading branding expert and managing director of 1Up Communications will help vulnerable youth to identify their hidden potential through the new University of Queensland (UQ) initiative, the ‘Demetri Hughes Marketing Mentor Program’.
Marketing students with a disability, experiencing financial hardship or close to homelessness, who have lost relatives through death or who are ill, and Indigenous students will be among those to receive support from the program.
They’ll be mentored in areas including networking, leveraging opportunities from internships, preparing for job interviews, negotiating for success and developing their personal brands, as well as have opportunities to meet experienced marketing industry leaders.
From growing up in a struggling single-parent household, with his mum and brothers in Logan south of Brisbane, to becoming a marketing expert to business leaders across the country, Hughes hopes to inspire students with his own success story.
“I came from a background where I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth; I had to study full time, work full time and I had family to take care of.
“I understand the pressures students can face and I empathise with them.
“The program is for high potential students who come from backgrounds where the odds are they’ll quit studying if they don’t have a strong support base.
“I want to teach students how to develop unwavering self-belief, and how to change their mindset from being overwhelmed about all the obstacles they might have to all the opportunities that can be found along the way”.
“I’ve really loved the opportunity to give back to a profession that’s so dear to me.
“And I’m incredibly excited to take this relationship I have with UQ already to the next level”.
The pro bono mentorship program will begin later this month. Queensland AMI deputy chair Keith Stanley will take over Hughes’ AMI state chair role.
Professor Sarah Kelly, marketing discipline leader at UQ, said the program was a game-changing initiative and unique in university marketing courses.
She said: “We are so grateful that someone of Demetri’s calibre is leading the new program with such genuine concern and focus.
“We hope that Demetri’s leadership of this program will lead to positive outcomes for these students and UQ, including degree completion, employability, networks and enhanced diversity and inclusion on campus”.
AMI national chair Lynda Cavalera praised Hughes for being a driving force in professionalising the marketing industry.
She said: “Demetri has contributed significantly to the largest growth we have ever had in the number of Certified Practising Marketer practitioners applying and being admitted to Queensland.
“On a national level, he has worked tirelessly to professionalise the industry by AMI Accrediting 41 new marketing related programs from 18 tertiary institutions.
“His separate tenure as Deputy Chair of the Accreditation Board has resulted in workplace integrated learning and developing contemporary programs truly rising to the forefront of considerations when universities develop curriculum.”
RACQ general manager marketing and digital, Renee Davidson, also commended Hughes for his hard work during his AMI Queensland tenure.
“He is passionate about our profession and has played an active role in building and uniting the Queensland marketing community.
“He has led the AMI’s Queensland efforts on quality tertiary education, upskilling of marketers and recognition of industry best practice. He has always gone above and beyond”.