As early as the first semester of the ESSEC Asia-Pacific MSc Marketing Management and Digital (MMD) program, Marco Carini was allowed to test the skills he had acquired in class on digital marketing projects for real companies.

This learning-by-doing approach continued during his time at ESSEC. In just a year, he had worked with brands such as Longchamp, AG1, and Maison 21G for different classes.

But what project made the biggest impression? The Digital Marketing Challenge (DMC).

The DMC, which occurs towards the end of the MMD journey, is a six-week consultancy project in which students help real companies solve a digital marketing challenge.

Participating companies vary yearly from sectors tailored to the cohort’s interests. In 2024, the lineup included a mix of B2B and B2C companies from the luxury, beauty, consulting, and shipping industries.

As someone considering a career in the luxury industry, Marco, who is from Italy, was happy to be matched with a luxury watch brand.

Putting Together Lessons From Across the MMD Journey

For Marco, the DMC stood out for being the biggest that he tackled during his MMD journey.

For example, while other classes focused on just one aspect of digital marketing—a product launch or raising brand awareness—the DMC scope was far broader.

It required his team to work on search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), optimize the user’s website experience, and build brand awareness with high-net-worth individuals in Asia.

“The organization of time, in terms of planning, prioritizing deliverables, and distributing the work, was very, very complex,” Marco recalls, noting that the skills drew from classes taken throughout the MMD program.

“But because of the complexity, I learned a lot about teamwork and managing people,” he says.

His team first focused on the technical aspects of the challenge, conducting keyword research and analyzing the user experience on various competitor websites to answer the brief.

Their hard work paid off, and by the first meeting at the brand’s Singapore office, they were ready to present half their strategy, which included suggested keywords and tweaks to the website.

“The company loved it! They sent our ideas to headquarters and told us they would start incorporating some of our proposed changes to the website,” Marco excitedly recalls, adding that it was encouraging to know the team’s work would have a real-world impact.

Learning from Real-world Professionals

Another way the DMC stood out to Marco was that it felt like a genuine collaboration with the clients.

“We had weekly email updates with the client’s marketing department and around five to six meetings with them to discuss ideas,” Marco says.

He particularly appreciated the company’s investment in the project and how they treated his team as professionals.

For instance, marketing, human resources, and even management were represented at the first meeting. In addition, everyone they met was open to hearing the team’s ideas and willing to offer advice.

“Even the managing director was extremely passionate and interested to spend so much time listening to us,” Marco exclaims.

Offering Possibilities for the Future

The open communication channel and regular client feedback gave Marco and his team in-depth insights into how a global luxury brand functions.

This empowered them to refine their proposal and ultimately deliver “one of the best presentations” of their MMD lives.

And as the cherry on top, the client was so impressed that they even approached Marco with an internship offer.

Reflecting on his DMC journey, Marco says, “I believe the DMC is a project that can lead to real job opportunities. It allows us to get in touch with people within the brand, understand their needs, and impress them with what we can do.”

For young professionals, it is a chance like no other.