Developing a new edge

by Sophie Leung

Joseph Salvacruz, adjunct associate professor
department of marketing, school of business and management
the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Photo: Lewis Wong

Today's business climate demands that companies employ a well-defined marketing strategy in order to remain competitive.

"Market performance has become a matter of survival for companies in the current climate. The pie is shrinking at the moment and only those in competitive positions can remain in the market," explains Joseph Salvacruz, adjunct associate professor, department of marketing, school of business and management, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Professor Salvacruz points out that as companies look to cut costs, with staff layoffs a possibility, individuals across industries need to be able to prove they can enhance the competitiveness of companies. In doing so, they also sustain an edge in the vying talent market. "Often during tough economic times, professionals strive to equip themselves with new skills so they may remain at the top," he says.

In response to this, the university is running a two-day executive programme in competitive positioning in May. The programme aims to help participants develop appropriate value propositions by applying analytical tools and proactive strategies. It is targeted at those who deal with competitive analysis and product positioning, but professionals from other fields are also welcome.

"The essence of open enrolment programmes is the diversity of the participants' backgrounds. We have students from different sectors and countries. Such diversity offers great networking opportunities for all," says Professor Salvacruz, who is the programme's leader. "Some of them remain in contact with each other after the programme, as they find such connections mutually beneficial."

A portion of the programme is dedicated to lateral thinking and participants learn to deal with other stakeholders in markets across geological locations. Globalisation holds the key to future business development.

"It is increasingly important for individuals to learn the practices of other regions, such as legal constraints on business, so they can help companies explore new markets," Professor Salvacruz adds.

By introducing best practices and real case studies, the programme becomes an interface between academia and business management. Professor Salvacruz remarks, "It is not about theories, but practical and relevant application of skills to drive real results." In class, students are encouraged to identify opportunities and threats in the market, analyse customers' preferences, evaluate competition and define attractive propositions that can promote sales. The programme is market-orientated and it advocates a comprehensive understanding of external environmental factors, market behaviour and competitor actions.

"With help from our experienced faculty staff, the programme serves as a catalyst to class discussion and a starting point for innovative and practical marketing strategies. People looking to think outside the box can benefit from such discussions and hence develop a sustainable advantage for companies and themselves," concludes Professor Salvacruz.

Taken from Career Times 13 March 2009, p. A7
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