On Monday evening the gatekeepers of talent in our business were invited to a drinks reception at the IPA to hear about the rise and rise of Continuous Professional Development in the last 15 years and plans for its future.
The guests were key opinion formers who bring talent into agencies and match agencies with marketing clients.
Our keynote speaker Ros King, of Lloyds Banking Group, spoke about what she looked for when choosing candidates when she was in agency management and what clients expect of the talent in their agency teams.
Paul Bainsfair, Director General, noted that our professional programmes were the envy not only of other UK advertising bodies but also of the world with our qualifications being used in over 60 countries.
Director of Professional Development Patrick Mills outlined the quality of our seven qualifications, all written by senior agency practitioners and increasingly taken by clients too.
They are up-to-date and highly relevant – 92% of delegates find the content relevant, 90% would recommend it to colleagues and 72% even use content on their client’s business.
Revealing some of the qualifications’ exam questions gave many of us pause for thought. Not only were there many hours of studying but the exams are clearly rigorous, deep and tough; a minimum of eight hours to complete, many at least 30 hours.
The Excellence Diploma is at least 150 hours of work, perhaps justly seen as the only MBA of brands worldwide. No wonder they are so prized and sought after - 10,000 certificates have now been awarded.
Patrick updated the audience on the upcoming Talent Adaptathon on 7th October, a highly relevant event for this group, with many speakers from inside and outside the industry on the future of work and jobs.
Its key role, and there are many ‘Labs’ addressing this, is to find practical ways we can recruit and retain talent which is less one dimensional, more diverse, and leads to better commercial creativity.
The MD and Founder of Hunterlodge, a CPD Gold and Platinum agency, Rob Hunter, explained his damascene conversion to the business benefits of CPD during the Chartered Director programme at the Institute of Directors.
He said, “The company was not all about me – it was about my people. The more I invested in them the better quality job my clients would receive, the longer I would keep my clients and the longer I would keep my good staff.”
Within three years of this approach, profits had doubled. 80% of its new business wins in the last four years are down to CPD initiatives. Rob listed the many top practitioners who had written the IPA qualifications, and the devotion shown it: for example Les Binet and Peter Field had given over 500 hours to authoring the Eff Test.
Rob believes that there is now an acceptance in the industry that qualified staff are better in their jobs hence higher quality solutions, greater efficiencies, higher morale, much happier clients and higher profits for all stakeholders.
As a result he always checks to see what qualifications new candidates hold, stating that those with them have an advantage before even walking in to the room.
We have taken 15 years to be seen as more professional and in the next 10 years we want to become a profession which can stand alongside doctors, architects, engineers and lawyers.
The audience of recruitment consultants, headhunters and intermediaries were crucial to achieving that vision.
Ros spoke about the role CPD had played in her own career. 33 years ago she accepted a job at Leo Burnett because they had a good graduate training programme and took it seriously.
The best agencies were those who saw training not as a cost, but as an investment. It opens up opportunity and authority. She noted that no other profession would sell the services of somebody who is unqualified.
Her mantra throughout her career was inspired by her time at Ogilvy; to “hire giants” because in a people industry the best talent is your only point of difference.
Clients expected to have agencies who could operate and lead in a new world, who could demonstrate results, not just good process.
She declared, “Clients will not be impressed by your CPD records and staff qualifications, they expect it. In fact, if you haven’t got this, you should be worried".
Afterwards Frances Bartlett of Major Players spoke to me about her experience of placing talented account management candidates over eight years. There had been a sea change and now she did not need to ask to see their development credentials, they were volunteered.
Linda Steven from Blackbook notes that they were 100% behind promoting candidates with qualifications over those non qualified. Two intermediaries will now be adding qualifications to their RFIs.
So, all in all, we are overjoyed here at The IPA about how CPD is progressing and excited for what the future holds.
Gwyn March is an IPA Training Officer.
Book up now for our Talent Adaptathon on 7th October.
Find out more about the 10th anniversary of CPD qualifications.
Discover what each of our IPA Qualifications entails by clicking here!
Last updated 24/09/2014