WPP School of Marketing and Communications launches in Shanghai

WPP, the world’s largest marketing group, and the Shanghai Art & Design Academy (SADA), a nationally recognized leader in arts and design vocational education, jointly announced today the establishment of the WPP School of Marketing and Communications.

Located on SADA’s 218-acre campus in Shanghai, the WPP School of Marketing and Communications marks China’s first professional marketing and communications three-year diploma program, bringing together a strong academic and creative curriculum combined with practical application.

The WPP School inaugural class enrolled in September 2011. Fifty students were selected from a pool of 1,358 SADA candidates.

In 2007, SADA was designated by the Ministry of Education as a national role model for advanced vocational colleges. SADA has more than 50 years of history as an advanced education institution, and has a reputation for cultivating nationally renowned design masters and artists in China. The SADA campus houses outstanding design, production and CGI facilities. SADA is part of the Shanghai Guosheng Group, a leading state-owned investment holding company.

“China is currently facing a shortage of talent, particularly in the fields of marketing and communications, which is expected to become more acute in coming years. As the leading marketing group in China and the world, WPP is committed to helping China to develop a professional, and creatively-talented workforce in this sector,” said WPP Chief Executive Sir Martin Sorrell.

“We are fortunate to have such a committed partner in SADA to establish the WPP School of Marketing and Communications. We look forward to working with them to build the WPP School and nurture market-leading talent,” he added.

Jiang Ming, the Principal of SADA, said, “The joint establishment of the WPP school to nurture world-class creative talents in marketing and communication and the development of a new model in the collaboration between colleges and companies is a new exploration on the path of higher vocational education for the Shanghai Art and Design Academy.”

WPP and WPP companies, which are globally recognized for their in-house training and development programs, will work closely with SADA to develop the School’s curriculum and hire full-time faculty. TB Song, WPP Greater China Chairman and Ogilvy Greater China Chairman, will serve as Dean and will lead the School’s board of directors. Additionally, senior staff from WPP companies will serve as part-time faculty and act as mentors. Internship and training opportunities will also be provided to students.

“WPP and its companies are known for their world-class internal training programs. WPP will share its experience in developing such programs and making them relevant to SADA and its students,” said TB Song. “Upon graduation, students will have a solid academic background and creative skill sets, providing them with good employment opportunities in our industry.”

China’s central government has focused on education reform as one of its top priorities, with colleges and universities being asked to put more emphasis on practical skills. In particular, the number of new college graduates has tripled in the past eight years to 6.6 million in 2011, according to China’s Ministry of Education, with unemployment and underemployment high among new college graduates.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Mr. Sorrell shared his views on the importance of innovation and creative talent in business. A 2010 McKinsey Global Survey found that senior executives in China ranked Marketing among the top 4 disciplines where they expect to find difficulty recruiting the right talent. More broadly, an earlier 2008 McKinsey study reported that 44 percent of executives at Chinese companies said insufficient talent was the biggest barrier to their global ambitions.

Mr. Sorrell was also in Shanghai to attend the Shanghai Mayor’s International Business Leaders Advisory Council, where he was a vice-chairman for the 2011 IBLAC meeting.

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