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Rebekah Lyons

  • Programme: Strategic Branding
  • Nationality: Irish
  • Job Post-programme: Managing Director, Portobello Institute


“Understanding the customers’ needs and how to meet them, defining brand purpose and why focusing too much on innovation can be detrimental to the core business are my biggest takeaways from the programme”

Rebekah Lyons has seen the Portobello Institute undergo various rebrands in her 25-year tenure as managing director. But she believes the Dublin-based college’s latest refresh will be the most successful.

Since taking London Business School’s (LBS) Strategic Branding programme, Rebekah has made significant changes at the college. A creative agency is redeveloping Portobello Institute’s brand assets and website to better promote its vision to provide higher education to students of all ages. The college offers courses ranging from business studies and travel and tourism to beauty therapy, sports and health.

This change is one of several to be implemented since Rebekah studied at LBS. “Understanding the customers’ needs and how to meet them, defining brand purpose and why focusing too much on innovation can be detrimental to the core business are my biggest takeaways from the programme,” she says.

She also learnt about the benefits of flexible pricing. The college now offers payment options for students who want to settle the fees upfront or in instalments. Visitors to the portal will find the new pricing, along with clearer messaging about Portobello Institute’s class sizes – a key issue for prospective students.

“We looked at all our programmes and realised there were no more than 14 students in each class, so why not make that clear in our messaging?” Rebekah says. “We’re now explicit about the fact that when you come to Portobello Institute, you won’t be sitting in a classroom with 250 others. There will be a maximum of 13 other people and you’ll create relationships that will last a lifetime.”

The decision to limit class numbers was based on student feedback. “Many said they wanted to be in smaller classes with tutors who can engage with them more and offer greater support,” Rebekah says. Having fewer students also gives tutors capacity to review written assignments before the deadline. Students can then make any revisions before submitting their final paper.

Rebekah says the changes have helped boost Portobello Institute’s revenues. “Our bookings were up about 30% year-on-year for the first quarter of 2017. That’s in part due to the lift in the Irish economy, but it’s also down to the changes we’ve made. We now clearly understand our brand purpose and how to position it in a manner that resonates with potential students.

“We have a strategic plan in place that will increase our brand equity. We aim to increase our profit by 15–20% in the next three years by raising our fees in response to rising demand. This strategy is a direct result of what I learned on the Strategic Branding programme at LBS.”