Once upon a time…
I remember the moment clearly. It was one rather dull Friday in February when I got a tap on the shoulder as I was typing away at my desk. I looked up to see our client services director Nick standing in front of me clutching a handful of print outs – “can I have a quick word?” he politely asked. “This sounds ominous”, I thought to myself. Nevertheless I jumped up and followed him to a quiet room and the door shut. I sat rather sheepishly wondering what was going to happen next, and most importantly tried to recall the last
week’s happenings in search of anything that might have warranted such a situation like this to arise. “Have you heard of the Marketing Academy Jonny?”, Nick asked. I replied with an honest, “no, but do tell me more” answer. “We want to nominate you for a 2011 scholarship – here’s all the information you need about it.” Within 30 seconds of reading the opening paragraphs it was a straight-forward response. “Brilliant – this looks like a fantastic opportunity. Thank you!”
The enlightenment and more
Within minutes of leaving the room, and hearing Nick’s final words ringing (“over to you now Jonny”) I was half excited and half wondering what exactly I’d agreed to. Nevertheless back at my desk the wonders of Google served up some further information on the MA (Marketing Academy) and a picture of what is was all about began to grow. It wasn’t long before I knew this wasn’t really a fantastic opportunity – it was a potentially life-changing one. This only escalated when I began to read about the 2010 class and what they had to say. Never before had I witnessed a group of people so genuinely enthused about something. In today’s cynical world authentic passion usually seems to get crushed in a moment.
Like I’m sure everyone applying for a place did, I put alot of effort into the selection process and it was this process that made me even more enthusiastic by the whole prospect of gaining a scholarship. Like people often say ‘you get what you put in’ and so I knew that this was plenty of effort that had a great reward at the end of it – if I was to be successful. My expectations only grew as I went through each stage – each time I recognised even more that the prize was immense. So of course when I received the call to say I’d secured a place I was over the moon! (A note to my team here – thank you again for the congratulatory card and chocolates!).
Bigger and bigger
The gala night at Rapier really did seal at the outset the expectations I had for the year ahead. Meeting in person the 2010 scholars cemented what I had read and heard about the Academy. These guys and girls were all unanimous in their excitement for us as new scholars and this concept of a’ defining year’ ahead was really apparent. The fact the party was attended by a seemingly ‘who’s who’ of marketing and advertising was further proof I had managed to get myself into an environment that was going to grow me, develop me
and sharpen me. They say you never stop learning in life – very true I can imagine – but there comes a time when learning, learning, learning is more appropriate than ever and that feels like now for me. It’s a season in your career when you’ve got some experience in under your belt but know and realise you still have a long way to go. The ethos of learning and personal development is what makes the MA so brilliant.
One month in
So now a month or so in to my year I can honestly say these great expectations have been met already – though I know there is much more to come. Boot Camp number 1 was excellent and really quite thought-provoking. Hopefully you have read the great write-ups on this blog already about some of our experiences of it. I won’t go into a lot of detail now but I will ditto much of what was written by my peers. Having the chance to do a full Leadership Programme (Programmes for Life) was very worthwhile and I took a great deal from it – some of which I hope I’m now putting into practice (I guess you’ll have to ask my team to see if that has indeed happened!…) The guest speakers were great too – including a young businessman Fraser Doherty who founded the highly-lauded Super Jam when he was just 14. His humility and boldness stood out a mile and provided a noteworthy dose of inspiration for everyone in attendance.
The high point
Now without sounding particularly worthy (but in the spirit of authenticity) I would highlight that one of the best things about the Boot Camp was getting some ‘quality time’ with the rest of the scholars. This is without a doubt a genius bit of planning – chucking us all together for 3 days so early on in the year ensured the spirit and community of the 2011 class was in place from the outset. I’ve said this to several people since I started (in
response to being asked “how’s it been so far?”) that what is brilliant about the MA is that you have this unique scenario of having 30 bright and ambitious marketers who aren’t in competition but instead are an equal playing field of learning and growing. Far from the ‘Apprentice’ mindset the MA spirit is almost the antithesis of Lord Sugar’s brigade of egotistical bulldogs, allowing you to build a network of peers who you can share with, learn from and be honest always. This for me is very valuable.
Momentum, momentum, momentum
I’ve been fortunate to have two mentoring sessions already (I won’t give their secrets away just yet but the learning from them was fantastic) and with a lunch in the diary with Carolyn McCall, CEO of Easyjet, for next month the scholarship has great momentum already. I’ve also had the great pleasure to have my first coaching session too. The opportunity to have a year-long personal business/life coach is pretty awesome and I know this is
going to be so influential on me and a key part of my development. Next week I travel down to Kent to meet my assigned charity too – which I’ll report on in my next post. It’s all happening!
In an age when we don’t want to have great expectations of anything, for fear of disappointment, the Marketing Academy is certainly holding it’s own. Things have kicked off really well and it’s now a case of making the most of every moment (which was the over-riding piece of advice from our predecessors).
Thanks to all those who are involved with the Academy who generously donate their time and most of all to Sherilyn, Camilla and Michaela who make it all happen.