Mark Porath's contribution to Higher Education in New Zealand
Porath discovered a number of sales degree programmes in the United States, but nothing similar down under.
He submitted a paper to the Auckland University of Technology after he received enough of a receptive ear from AUT’s Vice Chancellor Derek McCormack when they met at a Trans Tasman Business Circle Lunch in Sydney in 2006.
He then ‘drafted’ in allies in the form of chief executives from Vodafone, ANZ Banking Group, AMP and New Zealand Post. They all agreed to form an active Advisory Board to persuade AUT to offer a degree major in Sales.
This was a radical and aggressive approach to tackling an obvious deficiency in the provision of practical tertiary education – and to its credit AUT listened to these corporates, absorbed the messages, and moved to implement it.
The process, he said, took over 12 months – because of the involvement of all New Zealand universities in approving a new qualification major, and confirming the credibility of the proposed offering.
In 2007, AUT’s Sales major in its Business degree was launched to 100 CEOs who embraced the concept and approach. A number of businesses involved in the development of the curriculum put up scholarships and the first graduates came into the commercial world in 2009.
Russell Stanners, chief executive of Vodafone New Zealand, as one of the initial advocates pushing for the creation of the specialist sales course says, “Vodafone is committed to building the business acumen skill of New Zealand sales people and sees the development of the course by AUT as a key step forward”
The most exciting thing for Porath is seeing that young people are exposed to the discipline, and that they get very motivated and excited about it. This can only bode well for the future because, ultimately, New Zealand has to up its game in both export and domestic Sales.
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