“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 clients. 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.”
This was the rallying cry from newly appointed IPA Chair for Northern Ireland, and Genesis MD, Helen Blakley, as she set out her two-year leadership agenda to attract the best talent into the NI ad business, to a buzzing reception of industry colleagues and university students in Belfast.
In launching her manifesto as NI Chair for the professional advertising agency body the IPA, Blakley was keen to highlight the dramatic changes the advertising industry has experienced, particularly over the past five years. From the development oral and how this has integrated into the ad agency businesses - changing and enhancing what it does; to the continual drive for effectiveness and performance; to the changing perception of what the ad agency business does – including the positive movement from being seen as suppliers to valuable business partners, who through collaboration with clients can help transform and add value to businesses – whether that’s encouraging societal change, driving economic development, or enabling sales growth.
This development, she explained, has also provided many opportunities, which as local IPA Agencies she believes "we have grasped, having expanded our footprint in terms of geographical markets and services, and as a result have developed the roles, specialisms and opportunities for the people within and coming into agencies". But to continue this trajectory and to develop and grow further in the future, Blakley asserts that the Northern Ireland ad industry "needs to have a pipeline of talent coming through and also be opened-minded about where this may come from".
To achieve these goals, Blakley announced a comprehensive programme of activity, including:
In addition to her mission to attract new and diverse talent, Blakley also spoke of her plans to ensure the ad business retains and nurtures its talent, ensuring that everyone it attracts feels like they belong in our industry.
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.
She also set out the need for the business to support the mental health and wellbeing of its people by empowering, supporting and being proactive in the management of its teams.
"We are, after all, a people business. The four walls in which we operate don’t really 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. And those people who embrace opportunities in order to continually develop will set themselves apart and it will help them underpin their success."
Following Blakley’s address this evening, the audience heard from Ciara Madden, UU CAM Final Year Student who will soon be joining Helen at her agency in a full-time role on her first-hand experience of entering the business; from Richard Aldiss, MD, of agency McCann Manchester on how to create an inclusive agency culture; and from mindfulness pioneer Bridgeen Rea-Kaya from Immeasurable Minds.
Her programme will feed into and support IPA President Josh Krichefski’s People First agenda.Read Helen's full speech