Chris Liassides: Armenian students never stop to amaze me

12.02.2018 | 09:15 Home / News / Interviews /
#Chris Liassides
The interview of Chris Liassides, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, University of Sheffield International Faculty CITY College, to

Mr. Liassides, can you please tell us about your impressions from Armenian students?

I teach to both undergraduate as well as Executive MBA students and both groups never stop to amaze me. They are eager to learn and expose themselves to new business skills and knowledge. Really astonishing for me is the fact that my Executive MBA students are thirsty for more, despite some of them are holding top positions in the industry, ranging from CEOs in luxury products to doctors, and from managers in malls to executives in TV networks.

What also challenges me about Armenian students is that young, yet mature, people now have other interests in life, mainly social media. So, social media is used heavily in making students understand that what is delivered to them has a contemporary aspect. Social media groups are created for better communication with the students. Also, the need to excel in this field is a notion that I always try to make my students understand.

Judging from the current recession all over Europe and the fact that companies tend to constantly downsize, jobs are harder to find. Hence, one of my tasks as a professor of such subjects is to help students understand that they need to study, keep themselves up with developments, and be part of the "crème-de-la-crème" to find a good company to employ them, where they can contribute but also gain valuable experience for their future endeavours.

Do you think that Armenian students are somehow different from others that you have taught during your career?

By practicing and teaching marketing and business studies in general not only do I convey knowledge, but I also constantly learn something new, and this is my way of feeling that I personally develop both as an academic, as well as a person. Armenian students have helped me see things from a different perspective and this has added to my overall understanding of business.

What I particularly admired in Armenian students is that they appreciate the fact that business is based on common sense and that it is an area where you need to challenge yourself every day, be creative, innovative, and be open to experimentation, because if you do not dare, then things will never come your way.

What are the key messages that you deliver to your students?

The real challenge is to keep up with the latest developments in the field in question. New things are out there and to develop a successful presence of a company in the marketplace is the key to success. The skills we once had are becoming obsolete, or at least, less significant, and pursuing new development approaches is of utmost importance.

Customers have become more profound, knowledgeable, and more demanding. Satisfying the needs of customers is the main principle in ensuring repeated sales and the spreading of positive word of mouth. All managers should focus on this notion and make sure that what they provide to people ends up in a win-win situation, always with respect to the spine of the organization, which is none other than the employees.

Today one can often hear an opinion that “classic education” (including MBA) is becoming less important nowadays and “skills are the new King”. What you think about that?

Skills is a peculiar term to comprehend. Nevertheless, there is a set of rules that we, as practitioners and academics, should follow. Such as, to keep up with the current trends. Be digital-literate. Have an eye for what the future trends in the market will be and be the first to implement something, either to avoid pitfalls, or to gain the so called "first mover's advantage" Be in a position to sustain your current client base so as not to be acquired by the competitors.

Still on the issue of the need of skills, in high competitive environments, as we are in now, businesspeople should never rest assured thinking that because they do things right, they will yield positive results. Competitors' managers know their stuff also and constantly devise strategies to increase their share of the market. So, we need to have theory-based new skills in the moves we make.

The fallacy that exists that universities teach theories and not skills should stop. This is not the case in how we teach, since the use of technology, simulation games, real life international competitions, always with the guidance of the professors, build up a whole new set of skills for the students. There is always room for improvement and coming up with new tactics, and the real quality is to be in a position to come up with such innovative moves.

Trying to understand the behaviour of people. The psychology of the prospective customer. Once you figure out that, the rest is easy. Companies fall into the trap of thinking that by offering something of quality to the market, people will be attracted and buy it. The issue here is to understand exactly what they want, and how they want it, and then offer it to them. The effort to personalize the offering is to me the most interesting aspect of working in this field and skills is what is required to achieve this, and skills is what I provide to my students. Skills, such as, how to approach a market as a whole, but at the same time, think of ways to make people understand that what you offer to them is spot-on what they need.
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