What Makes a Good Ad - Business Professor Tetyana Kholod

Originally from Vinnytsia, Ukraine, Professor Tetyana Kholod holds an MBA and a Ph.D. in Business Management from the National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan. She is Lecturer in Business and Management at JCU.

Tetyana Kholod

Tetyana Kholod

Tell us a bit about your background.
I was very young when the Soviet Union dissolved and Ukraine became independent. It was a great time of change from the “command economy” to capitalism. I grew up in a time of transition when my country got flooded with all sorts of foreign brands. The empty shelves of the stores were flooded with cheap foreign products (because the majority of people could not afford expensive ones). We finally had more than 2 channels on our TVs and the mediascape became dominated by western (mostly American) products. I remember the excitement of the time but also the feeling of searching for a new identity in all that turmoil and clash of cultures. It was a really interesting time in which to grow up.

What brought you to Rome and JCU?
I came to Rome with my Italian husband whom I met in Taiwan. I am still getting used to Rome and its beauty and chaos. While still in Taiwan, I applied for a position at JCU and after several interviews and teaching demonstrations, I was offered the job. I fell in love with this University at first sight. Coming from a university in Taiwan that was very internationally-minded I found that JCU was a natural fit.

You earned your MBA and Ph.D. in Taiwan. What was that experience like?
It was an eye-opening experience. I did not travel much before leaving Ukraine for Taiwan right after graduating from university in Kiev, so my first few weeks there did not go well. It was a completely foreign world to me, the architecture was not familiar, people were friendly but it was difficult to understand each other. The Global MBA program at National Chiao Tung University was very focused on providing essential business skills. I think that experience really turned me into an open-minded person, and it taught me how to be a good team member, a team leader, and eventually also a researcher. I got inspired by my Master’s thesis advisor and went for a Ph.D. in Business Management after earning my MBA. That was a completely new experience as I was the first foreigner ever in my program. Some of my classes, like Statistics, Multivariate Analysis, Econometrics, were all in Chinese. That’s where a lot of online classes came in handy and I learned my way around. That experience taught me to appreciate every opportunity to sit in a classroom with world-class professors who share their expertise and where there is personal interaction. Something that every student in JCU can easily enjoy. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting out of your comfort zone and living at least for a short time in a foreign environment; it changes your perspective.

Describe your teaching philosophy.
I always try to put myself in the shoes of students. I think the best way to learn business is to do business, so I never have purely hypothetical or theoretical exercises in my classes. I try to make my students work on real projects, get feedback from real clients, and I try to be a guide or a coach for them in the process. I try to make sure that at the end of the semester they have something tangible to add to their resumes, be it a business plan, or the creative brief for advertising projects. I also place a lot of emphasis on teamwork and I still see students struggling with it. Many prefer to do the work on their own and I think it limits students’ abilities to be successful in the workplace. In most cases, one has to work with others and the earlier students learn to be effective team members the easier the transition from university to the work environment will be.

Your Advertising Management syllabus says “The connection between culture and advertising makes it a powerful, and sometimes dangerous, marketing method.” Could you give an example of this? What do you hope that students learn in this course?
Well, advertising is essentially communication that has a specific goal, which can be to convince people to buy a product or a service. It can be a double-edged sword depending on the goal of the advertiser. But it could also be to promote an action (like to vote for example), or an idea (like gender equality). Decades ago, advertisers started to be accused of “having a bad influence on society.” One of the most prominent advertisers of the last century, David Ogilvy, said: “Advertising reflects the customs of a society, but it does not influence them.” I think the truth is somewhere in between. With all the text-mining and sentiment analysis available with modern tools we can actually see the impact that advertising has on people. So, the relationship between advertising and society is a complicated one. Think of sugary soda drinks. Should they be advertised to children? What is the impact in the long run? In the Advertising Management course, we discuss these issues, how to create an effective advertisement, and how to decode the ones we see every day. I hope students will learn to look at advertisements through a professional lens and be able to think about them critically.

In the middle of the Spring 2020 semester, the Covid-19 pandemic forced JCU to switch to online courses. What were some of the challenges of online teaching? How did you overcome them?
I think the biggest challenge for me was to make sure that students still got to work on projects and deliver results. Self-management was an issue for many, not only students but everyone. But overall I think the experience was very positive. I think everyone realized that this is a new reality and remote studying (or working) is going to be with us from now on in one form or another. Businesses, universities, public systems, students – we are all learning how to make this transition. In these few months, we have seen that studying/working from remote is much more complicated than just “do the same old thing but on Zoom.” There are new issues related to ethics, engagement, motivation, belonging to a community, appraisal, achievement, and so on. But I am excited to see how this will shape up into new ways of working and learning.

What are your current projects?
I have several ongoing projects in different fields. The most recent one is research on investors’ motives in the equity crowdfunding of art. Crowdfunding got a lot of attention from academia in the past decade but art equity crowdfunding is a relatively new idea. The concept means that a number of people participate in funding an art project and they own a share of the finished product after it is completed. If the work is sold for more than what it was funded with, each investor gets a profit depending on the size of the share. There are many reasons why people participate in crowdfunding projects and very often they are not related to financial incentives. Social contact, anti-commercial movement, altruism, and philanthropy are all important factors that motivate the investors in crowdfunding projects. 

What advice would you give to a student who is considering coming to JCU to study Business Administration?
First, keep your eyes and ears open. Your studies and your private life provide a certain routine, so sometimes you forget about the outside world. But everything you do now will have an impact on who you will become after graduation, so you have to know what is going on in the world. Keeping abreast of major events and trends will give you a great competitive advantage when moving forward with your career.

My second and most important piece of advice is to make as many friends as possible. Get to know people and try to make them know you. University provides a safe, risk-free environment for students to practice the skills they will need in their future professional lives. Certainly one of the most important skills that they will need is the ability to work well with others.

At the end of the day, the people you meet at university are going to be part of your professional network, the person who sits next to you in class might become the decision-maker in the venture capital firm that might invest in your business. Or a partner with the necessary skills you are looking for for your next big project. So, start growing your professional network!

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