Alumni Spotlight: Ian Barcarse

by Nicola Brown, MPC2014

Meet Ian Barcarse, Manager of Digital Marketing at York University.

How did you arrive at your current role at York University? What drew you to the field of digital marketing for an educational institution?

Prior to entering the MPC program, I was working with an agency specializing in higher education. I started in online advertising sales and then moved on to communication and marketing consulting to support universities and colleges with student recruitment. This is how I learned the ropes of digital marketing and became immersed in the field of higher education.

Not many students or professionals consider higher education as a possible place of work. However, if you think beyond academics, higher education is a global industry that attracts millions around the world. It is a large and dynamic field that continually evolves with the times.

On a deeper level, I feel that marketing for an educational institution contributes to social good. Growing up as an immigrant and as a child to a single mom, education has always been the key to my success. School was a safe haven where hard work resulted in positive change. So now I’m paying it forward by using my knowledge and experience to inform others about their educational options. It is my hope that my work can inspire curiosity, ignite passion, and instill a lifelong desire to learn.

What are some of the biggest challenges for being successful in digital marketing today?

Digital Marketing is both an art and a science. For many communicators, the biggest challenge is adapting to the quantitative and technical demands of the work. I know this because I used to be the “Asian who wasn’t good at math” (imaginary numbers were just too hard to believe). Now, I live by analytics and get a thrill from measuring performance, optimizing campaigns, and crunching conversion results. Balancing creativity with analytical abilities makes for a successful and well-rounded digital marketing professional.

What does the next evolution of digital marketing look like? What should we prepare for?

The future is impossible to predict. Digital Marketing was a non-existent industry when I was growing up. Now there seems to be a new social channel, marketing trend, or algorithm that is changing the game every couple of months.

The only way to really prepare for change and uncertainty is to know your strengths, values and intentions. I could never have anticipated that my interests in technology, design, creative writing, and community building would have led me to where I am in my career today.

Build on what you know and be open to what you have yet to learn. Through it all, be kind, respectful and open to fostering meaningful relationships. Who you know AND what you know goes a long way!

What advice would you have for those looking to follow in your footsteps?

Starting and advancing a career is never easy. It has taken me many late nights and weekends of going above and beyond what is expected to earn the respect of my superiors, colleagues, and networks. I say this because I think it’s important to note the determination and work ethic required to achieve success.

In addition to putting in the work, I recommend leveraging the principles of communication in all aspects of professional life. Tap into active listening and critical thinking skills to identify and anticipate the needs of people and organizations. Use a creative and strategic mindset to develop action-oriented solutions. Apply argumentation and persuasion to make a case and articulate impact or results. I believe that communicators are equipped with the skills and knowledge to successfully lead in any industry.