IPA Chair for Northern Ireland and Genesis MD, Helen Blakley delivered a speech outlining her two-year leadership agenda to attract the best talent into the NI ad business.
Many thanks, Valerie for your introduction and a huge thanks for all your hard work and commitment over the last four years in leading the 'Value of Advertising' Agenda in your capacity as IPA Chair for NI. I’ve some big boots to fill.
Hello everyone and it’s great to see so many here this evening from across the IPA agencies – and slightly scary to think it was four years ago since we last were together for this event.
I’m delighted that tonight we have members of the IPA team with us (Tom, Sara and Sonja) and I would like to extend a warm welcome to our guest speakers:
I’m also pleased to say that we are joined tonight by some of the students and lecturer, Fiona McMahon, from the Ulster University CAM course. A course that Bridgeen, Fiona and I, along with Julie from Krow, started together 30 years ago in September coming!
When I was thinking about the theme for my talk tonight, I was struck by a single truth which is rooted in my 25 years+ of working experience – on both the client side, in Diageo and IKEA, and on the agency side with Genesis, and working alongside our clients and partners.
The best organisations and the people within them, are those who embrace the opportunities that are either given to them or they create, in order to continually develop themselves. That’s what sets them apart. That’s what underpins their success.
So tonight I want to reflect on how being part of an IPA agency can help support that continual development and what this can mean to you.
I’ve been involved with the IPA from when I first joined Genesis in 2001, starting as a user of the extensive resources, training and support and in more recent years as part of the IPA NI Heads of Agency Group. A forum where we come together as like-minded agencies to discuss issues and areas affecting our businesses and people and look for ways to move these forward.
So I’m now privileged to be appointed to the role of NI Chair and look forward to being our local voice within the wider IPA community, and with the rest of the agencies here, supporting and driving forward locally the 'People First' agenda launched by IPA President, Josh Krichefski.
We say 'People First' because we are after all a people business. The four walls in which we operate doesn’t matter. Success is about the quality of our people because the processes, our ways of working and ultimately the quality of our outputs all flow from the quality of our people.
That’s why the IPA NI local agenda for the next two years will be focussed on our 'people and talent', and we will work within the framework that Josh has created so it is aligned across the UK.
So we’re going to focus on 3 key themes:
Our industry has changed dramatically over the last 10-15 years, and in particular, has accelerated in development over the last 5 years with:
This development has also provided many opportunities, which as a local industry we have grasped, expanding our footprint in terms of geographical markets and services, and as a result it has developed the roles, specialisms and opportunities for the people within and coming into our agencies. But to allow us to continue to develop and grow further in the future, we need to have a pipeline of talent coming through and also be opened-minded about where this may come from.
We’re a relatively small market and as we all know, the current recruitment market is very competitive and at times limited for more specialist roles in particular – and this shortage is not only affecting our sector but is across the board including for our client teams. So we need to 'future-proof' our pipeline by creating awareness and a positive perception of our industry as a viable profession and attractive option for those at the start of their career planning journey.
Over the years we’ve come a long way in terms of professionalising our industry, supported by the IPA and CPD programme, so this is about building upon that great work.
After discussion with the rest of the Agency Heads, we’ve agreed a programme of activity that will help support this, with some highlights as follows:
We also recognise that there is an opportunity to better explain and communicate the extensive and diverse range of roles and opportunities across our sector, so over the next 6-12 months we will look at creating some content to help address this.
As an industry we need to ensure that diversity – across all parameters - along with equality are in place and over time reflect on how we are progressing against this. This is not specific to our sector and reflects how society is changing as a whole, but to quote Josh from his inaugural Speech, it is so important for us as divergent thought powers creativity.
As IPA agencies, continuous professional development is a core commitment that we make as part our membership (and does set us apart from other non-IPA agencies here) and it fuels a virtuous circle that benefits our people, our work, our clients and our businesses. I do think that we have an opportunity to better ‘sell’ and bring this to life for those who are coming into our industry and for our team who are part of the future. In addition to what we do individually as agencies, each person here has paid membership of the IPA and access to the fantastic resources, training (with even more delivered virtually now) and support that it offers – tapping into a network of professionals and the wider UK advertising industry – and the more we use it, the greater the benefit it will bring.
We also understand the power that L&D. Whether that be formal training, on-the-job experience, mentoring or self-learning, it can have on a person’s professional and personal development including their drive to keep evolving.
I am delighted to say that I have seen first-hand how this support has helped nurture and support many of our team in Genesis and helped them progress and move up to now take on roles of managers and leaders and help develop the next generation coming through.
As a group, we will continue to support our own L&D programmes, but have also agreed to focus on a number of initiatives in this area including:
Again we recognise that there is an opportunity to better communicate the diverse range of talent across our sector and how our teams are developing through a supportive environment and CPD. So over the next 6-12 months we will look at creating some content to help address this.
In the meantime, I wanted to highlight some forthcoming IPA training that may be of interest:
With over 30 years in the industry, I’m delighted that tonight we are joined by Richard Aldiss, MD of McCann Manchester and IPA Chair for England and Wales, who will be giving us an insight into his personal journey in our industry and what he believes this industry can offer for those working in it.
There are many factors, including those outside of work life, which affect and influence mental well-being, making it a very complex area. Notwithstanding the fact that we’ve all lived and worked through the pandemic - which did provide us with opportunities and (accelerated) new ways of thinking & working but also presented some challenges. Thankfully we’re out the other end of it but its impact is still with us all, in one way or another. Plus, whilst our creative environment does provide us with that buzz and excitement, as service providers and client partners, we all operate at pace with a need to deliver both for our clients and internally on an ongoing basis, so this can have an impact across the board too. I know from discussions with the other Agency Heads that we’ve all got some great work already underway to create a work environment that fosters a more positive mental well-being, but it will be brought even more to the fore as we move forward.
There are many ways that we can do this – big and small and personally, within our team, agency and as an industry as a whole - including:
As agencies we all have a level of resource and support in place for this, but I pleased to say that the IPA has committed to bolstering this further by creating a Resource Hub to support a New Era of Workplace Mental Health and champion this as an industry as a whole. It will contain, in one online location, all the best resources, training courses and toolkits to support member agencies and their teams. So more good stuff to come in this area.
And I would like to take the opportunity to highlight some IPA training which are already in place:
I look forward to continuing to work alongside my fellow Heads of Agency, with the support of the IPA, to develop our people, agencies and industry as a whole.