Marie McGuffie is using her Master of Marketing at MECCA
Marie McGuffie studied at Melbourne Business School to stand out in the crowd – the same reason her boss started one of Australia's most famous beauty brands.
Marie discovered her passion for marketing as a schoolgirl. With the help of a Master of Marketing from Melbourne Business School, she's now a senior campaign manager at MECCA – a recognised innovator in the beauty space in Australia and globally.
"I have specialised in retail marketing, and that really stemmed from working after school at a Sunglass Hut and just being overwhelmed and absolutely loving all the new products coming in, and it just gave me this buzz for retail," she says.
Marie grew up in a small town on the south coast of New South Wales. At high school, she loved physics and chemistry, as well as history and art, and couldn't decide which direction to go in, until she caught the marketing bug.
Becoming a Master of Marketing
After leaving school, Marie studied a marketing major in her Business Administration undergraduate degree and then worked in marketing roles at Westfield, OfficeMax and iconic jeans maker Levi Strauss & Co.
"From there, I realised I wanted to broaden my skills and kind of put myself to the test more, and so then started my Master of Marketing at Melbourne Business School," she says.
"It was actually a really easy decision. The fact that Melbourne Business School just had such a recognisable program, domestically and internationally, it was a really key point for me."
Being a part-time program, the Master of Marketing allowed Marie to study after work and apply what she learnt to her job at Levi Strauss, where she was working at the time.
"The fact that it was delivered over terms rather than semesters, it kept it really fast moving and punchy," she says.
"I was doing two subjects per term. It was delivered in the evening, unless it was an intensive subject, so it meant I could comfortably work during the day and attend class in the evenings."
The highlights of the program for Marie included the diversity of her classmates, the guest speakers and the quality and industry experience of the Melbourne Business School faculty.
"Not only were they accomplished academics, but they had really substantial, real-world experience behind them and from a huge variety of industries as well that I had never experienced myself.
"For some subjects, they would bring in guest speakers. All your peers in the classes were very accomplished and from a wide range of industries and connection points as well.
"You were very much always in a really warm and connected environment, which was fantastic."
The road to MECCA
After completing her Master of Marketing in 2020, Marie was keen to use her new skillset to extend her horizons. She moved from Levi Strauss to global wine maker Treasury Wine Estates – but didn't stay long.
"I was there for a bit over 12 months because I saw this role appear at MECCA, which was just that perfect culmination of all my experience and where I was looking to head in my career," she says.
MECCA is a retail and marketing phenomenon. Started 25 years ago in Melbourne by Jo Hogan, who scoured the globe for the rights to sell emerging and niche makeup, fragrance and skincare brands in Australia, it now has more than 100 stores across Australia and New Zealand.
"MECCA has a point of view, so we're able to offer a really curated view to kind of help filter down and overcome what can be a really overwhelming experience for the customer," Marie says.
Through its knowledgeable store and support staff and a successful mobile app, podcast series and social media channels, the company focuses on giving its customers a great in-store and online experience.
It's a marketer’s paradise for Marie, where the challenges of responding to instant customer feedback and fast-changing tastes are constant. But getting it right is immensely rewarding.
What success looks like
"For me, absolute success is when you're seeing the customer in the store environment. They're happy, they're having a wonderful, shared experience," Marie says.
"And there's always a little spark you see when you see your brand on a bag being carried around in the general market."
While MECCA might be a peak in Marie’s career, it's not the end of her ambitions.
"At the moment, I am at that senior marketing manager level, but I do want to keep progressing," she says.
"For me, ultimately continuing to either a GM level or a CMO level and potentially shifting to academia and being able to educate the next generation of marketers – I feel like that could be a really nice way to close out my career."