Developing the best marketing experience for students

Colleague spotlight | Neil Kelley


Neil Kelley

Neil Kelley is Course Director for the Undergraduate Marketing degrees at Leeds Business School. In addition to this he is a Chartered Marketer and Senior Examiner on the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Marketing and Digital Strategy module.

Tell us a bit about you and what led to working with Leeds Business School

Believe it or not, I graduated from Leeds Beckett University (when it was Leeds Metropolitan University) quite a while back, having studied art and design, and always hoped that one day I would come back. Then I did come back, after a 10 year gap, to study marketing, undertaking Chartered Institute of Marketing qualifications that helped me thrive in industry. 

However, I’ve always wanted to teach, and after completing my degree I taught art and design in secondary schools. Through my roles in industry, mainly hospitality and marketing, I was always the member of the team responsible for developing educational materials, delivering training and mentoring new staff. 

Then, working as a self-employed marketing consultant, I picked up some part time delivery at university, teaching on the same CIM programme I’d studied a few years earlier and that was it, the fire was rekindled, and education became my real passion. 

I’ve been with the Business School for just over 10 years and am still as passionate about the subject, the school and the students as I was when I first joined. 

What makes you passionate about marketing and why is it important?

Marketing is a wonderful subject to research, study and teach. It’s something which is vital to any business, and it’s much more complex than just creating an advert or designing some packaging. Key areas that we focus on when teaching include the impact that technology has had on marketing, data and analytics, social marketing, ethics and sustainability. These are subjects at the heart of contemporary marketing and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. 

Working with students means that we can help to prepare these future marketing professionals for what might come next. Employability is really important to us, and we want every student to be successful and to achieve their potential, both at university and with whatever comes after. It’s a real privilege to be able to work with students; finding out who they are, what motivates them, what they want to achieve, and seeing them develop and flourish during their time with us. 

It’s what motivates me to keep doing what I do, to feel that I can make a positive difference and be a part of someone’s journey as they learn and grow, I can’t think of a more rewarding role.

How is collaboration integral to your work, and what are one or two collaborations that have been most meaningful to you?

Collaboration is something that is really important, to me, our students and the degrees we offer. Without collaboration the value of what we offer our students would diminish. Books rightly have an important role in education, but collaborating with marketers, marketing agencies, marketing departments and wider adds real value to our degrees. It’s not just guest lectures but collaborating with industry professionals and specialists has meant that our degree programmes and content are designed to meet the needs of employers, and that we develop the skills and attitudes that student require to succeed. 

As part of the process for developing our new Digital Marketing degree programme, and Degree Apprenticeship, we consulted with industry, collaborating with both client-side and agency-side specialists to really understand what was needed to make the degrees useful and valuable to all involved. We wouldn’t be a successful Business School if we didn’t have these strong relationships with business, and their input, support and involvement is invaluable.

What achievements in this area have you been most proud of while working in Leeds Business School?

I’m most proud of what the students achieve, whether it’s during their time with us, or once they’ve graduated and started working in industry. Seeing our students feature in the press, seeing the work they produce, the awards they win, the jobs they go on to do and the positive differences they make out there in the real world is something I’m really proud of. 

In April of this year, three of our final year marketers made it to the final of Chartered Institute of Marketing’s The Pitch competition, presenting their recommendations to representatives from Samsung. I had the pleasure of being invited along to watch their pitch and was blown-away by the quality and professionalism of their work. They went on to win the competition overall, and it was something that everyone involved with our marketing courses, and across the wider university, was really proud of. It was a tremendous achievement, and testament to the hard work put in by the students, alongside their final year studies, and in the middle of a global pandemic. 

It’s the students here at Leeds Business School that make us proud; they’re hard-working, resilient, enterprising and professional, they’re the reason why I love doing what I do.

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