McCombs million-dollar investor takes fresh look at marketing

Jahnavi Muppaneni

Robert Malcolm, executive in residence at the McCombs School of Business, recently donated $1 million to the marketing department to help fund new research and technological techniques. 

The fundamental principles of marketing have remained the same, but the practice is rapidly changing, Malcolm said. The money he donated will go toward creating an endowed chair in marketing innovation position to keep students and faculty on track with the latest advances. 

Malcolm said he envisions the new chair to be a pioneer in the field with groundbreaking ideas.

“You need to live in two worlds at the same time,” Malcolm said. “You need to be in the world of today … and you need have one foot leading into the future for tomorrow.” 

Malcolm said he found his calling in marketing as a junior at the University of Southern California, where he took his first brand management class.  

Malcolm completed his Master of Business Administration at USC and joined Proctor & Gamble upon graduation. There he led marketing, brand management, sales and innovation functions for more than 75 brands in more than 40 countries.

“P&G at that time was at the top of list, and I was fortunate enough to talk my way into a job there,” Malcolm said.

Malcolm also worked for Diageo where he oversaw budgets worth billions of dollars. He later taught marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and has actively served on different boards, such as Hershey’s and the American Marketing Association. Malcolm came to the McCombs Center for Consumer Insight and Marketing Solutions in 2013. 

Marketing administration professor Raji Srinivasan said she is optimistic about the future of marketing within McCombs because of Malcolm’s contributions. 

“Malcolm’s donation will go a long way investing in faculty and infrastructure to further scholarship and teaching,” Srinivasan said. 

Sweta Sridhar, marketing and economics sophomore, said there aren’t enough career and recruiting opportunities geared toward marketing students. She said this creates misconceptions that marketing is not as important as other business majors and there is not much demand for marketing students in the workforce.

Sridhar said she believes Malcolm’s contributions will bring visibility to the McCombs marketing program.  

“Malcolm’s efforts are definitely a great first step towards solving the root cause of the issue and changing the discouragement and stereotypes many marketing students face in the business school,” Sridhar said.