Hearts, minds and business success at AMV BBDO

Andrew Pinkess gives a step-by-step guide on how to achieve an award-winning professional development programme that will boost your business growth.

‘Running our business has always been about capturing an unfair share of the hearts and minds of the people who work for us. If we can help people achieve their potential and create in them an affection for our company, then success is almost guaranteed’, - Peter Mead, Co-Founder of AMV and V-C of Omnicom

When looking for guidance on how to run our agency’s business, we always seek inspiration from our founders. In this case, Peter Mead hits the nail squarely on the head. You can’t run a successful agency without an unfair share of talent, and the way you keep them motivated to produce great work is by investing in them and allowing them to be the best they can be. CPD has a key role to play in delivering on this vision, and the IPA continues to be a key partner in making it happen.

As the UK’s largest creative agency we pride ourselves on the quality of our work, expressed in terms of high client satisfaction scores, commercial success, and creative recognition through awards (we picked up 197 of these in 2016 alone). But we have to keep challenging ourselves all the time to stay on top of our game.

Commitment to training and development is a fundamental ingredient in our formula for success, because we know it delivers results over the long-term. It’s reassuring to see that point proven by recent research from the IPA commercial team into the financial performance of agencies, who invest in IPA training, and those that don’t. Unsurprisingly, the former outperform the latter by a significant margin.

That’s good news for us as CPD is inherent in the day-to-day running of AMV. It’s in our DNA. Under the guidance of Katie Stanley, our Head of Talent, and Sarah Jupp, Learning & Development Manager, we offer varied and comprehensive learning opportunities, which are available to all. Training can be targeted at individuals, teams, or departments, in line with needs identified by line managers or resource heads. Senior management get involved looking at the bigger picture, and making sure that we build skills in areas of future opportunity for the agency, including customer experience, AI, and AR/VR.

Much of this training operates at a local level, through resources such as AMV Academy, which provides structured learning at nine different levels, depending on skill set and level of seniority. But we also share our own knowledge and best practice with the rest of the network through regular residential courses delivered through BBDO University. At the most senior levels, we send our high fliers to Omnicom University, where they rub shoulders with the brightest and best across the globe and different agency disciplines. Key drivers for this investment are improved effectiveness, shared culture and innovation, both for the agency and our clients.

To complement our own training programme, we lean on professional development resources from the IPA, as well as other external organisations such as APG, NABS, and our tech platform partners. The bedrock of our commitment to IPA training is the Foundation Certificate, taken by all our graduate joiners, as a key part of their induction process. It provides a fantastic grounding in the fundamentals of advertising, which gives their careers a real boost.

We also send account and commercial managers on the Commercial Certificate and LegRegs, with 29% of colleagues having taken one or the other. Three of our senior team members signed up for the Advanced Certificate, which represents a significant time commitment over a 12-month period. They are reaching the end of that programme and have reaped real benefits in terms of skills, confidence and versatility. The recent introduction of MIPA stars for successful completion of IPA courses now provides an additional incentive to take part, offering a stepping stone to personal membership.

Our staff also attend bespoke IPA courses and conferences, including: the Fundamentals of Branding; Festival of British Advertising panel sessions; and Unlearning, a thought leadership event featuring some of the top names in marketing theory, such as Byron Sharp, author of ‘How Brands Grow’. I was lucky enough to chair that event at the RSA, which was widely considered to be one of the highlights of the advertising and marketing calendar.

Above and beyond the academic and technical aspects of learning, we also take a holistic approach to CPD. We run a series of wellbeing initiatives, with the specific aim of maintaining our staff turnover below the IPA industry average of 30%, through improved job satisfaction, less sick days and more resilience to managing workload. 

We continue to run mental and physical fitness initiatives – for example, resilience training in the workplace this year with a former Olympic World Champion. We also run a series of programmes on diversity to ensure we have a varied workforce by gender, ethnicity, orientation, age, and family situation. Specific training initiatives include a proactive approach to apprenticeships to bring in talent from new sources, and ‘unconscious bias’ training for department heads in order to recruit without prejudice.

So for AMV BBDO, going for CPD Gold is something that is definitely embedded in our culture. But gaining recognition as a Platinum CPD agency is what we really value, as it shows our long-term commitment to learning and development as a key driver of business success.


Andrew Pinkess is Co-Chair of the IPA Professional Development Group and Head of Strategic Services & AMV Consulting at AMV BBDO.


The IPA’s CPD programme offers inspirational career development and training through engaging and effective courses and award-winning qualifications, ensuring agency practitioners’ skills match their clients’ needs. For more information on the IPA’s CPD programme visit www.ipa.co.uk/cpd and join in the conversation online #CPDPlatinum. Find out which agencies were awarded IPA CPD Platinum Accreditation for 2016 here.

Last updated 21 January 2022