Founding 50, School of Marketing

Before Christmas, I made an exciting announcement that I have been chosen to join the Founding 50, a group of 50 marketers aged under 30 who are passionate about inspiring the next generation of talent in our industry. We kicked things off last week with our first meet up at Ogilvy UK in London and it was so exciting to meet my fellow founding 50 and discuss our ideas and plans to take this initiative forward. I wanted to share a little more information about this and why I think it’s perfect timing for the future of our industry.

What is the Founding 50?

The founding 50 are ambassadors for the School of Marketing, a new initiative supported by Marketing Week, education company Learn Et Al and Pearson College London, which aims to solve the talent crisis in marketing by raising awareness of the profession as a desirable career option.

This crisis was first brought to light by Marketing Week in March 2018 when a survey carried out by Unidays revealed that just 3% of UK students aged 18 to 24 believe marketing offers the best career opportunities.

This new initiative has been designed to change this belief to make marketing a more attractive industry for students by raising awareness of what marketing actually is.

Why did I apply? 

I’ve worked in marketing for just over four years now, including a year’s work placement during my university degree in advertising with marketing communications. I absolutely love it, however, it wasn’t until I studied business studies at college that I started to learn what marketing really was and how it worked.

This is a problem in itself. If we want to build exposure around what a career in marketing means so that students start to consider this when choosing subjects at the GCSE / A Level stage then we need to start this at a much younger age.

To get more school-aged children interested in marketing we need to start with awareness. When I was at school we didn’t learn about marketing, it was only when I did business studies that I started to understand what marketing was. It would be great to get marketing on the school curriculum or perhaps host real life challenges where children get to learn the skills required for a career in marketing and put them into practice. I find that talks from practitioners sharing real-life experiences is also a great way to inspire and get people thinking.

Jess Houston

When I was considering choosing a university degree in marketing I was lucky enough to have a business mentor who helped me understand more about the industry and organised some work experience for me, shadowing one of his marketing managers at the time. This, plus a few other work experience placements and conversations with various tutors really helped me to decide what I wanted to do. I realise that not everyone has that opportunity but I feel through this initiative we can start to change that. I applied for the founding 50 to be a mentor, ambassador and sounding board for young people who are considering a career in marketing.

What I plan to bring to the programme

In my current role, I’ve spent time mentoring our business placement students and marketing assistants as they have started out their career in marketing which has been really rewarding. I ran our sales and marketing assistants and executive network for a year with a team of 7 in which time we ran a series of workshops and sessions to build the skills necessary of a marketer, as well as providing networking opportunities and social activities. I was keen to take those learnings and share them more widely which is why I started 2 new sections on this blog; career goals and marketing.

I want to take everything I’ve learned in the last 4 years of my career and use this to help young people who might have questions about a career in marketing. That could be through sharing my story and experience, through creating content about marketing topics and career development and/or mentoring. I’m just really excited to see how, as a group of 50 passionate marketers, we can start to make an impact in this space.

Getting started

We were extremely lucky to have our first session last week and heard from some very talented senior leaders in the industry to inspire and motivate us to get started. We were joined by Mark Evans, Marketing Director at DLG, Nishma Robb, Marketing Director at Google UK, Magnus Djaba, Global President of Saatchi & Saatchi and Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy.

They all shared their personal stories of how they got into the world of advertising and marketing which was absolutely fascinating and testiment to the diverse nature of skills and opportunities there are in our industry. I wanted to share a few pieces of advice that I took away from these sessions.

  1. Always be curious.
  2. Be relevant and creative. Data is important for providing insights and giving direction but it’s the emotion in marketing that makes an impact.
  3. Keep in simple. If you can’t explain what you’re trying to say or do on a poster then it’s not worth doing.
  4. Learn to embrace change. The world we live in and particularly the marketing industry is constantly changing and we need to be ok with that, and embrace it, to stay ahead.
  5. Love the impossible. Magnus said something very interesting which was that an industry moves forward when someone does something that hasn’t been done before. We need leaders who can write new rules rather than abide by existing ones. He also shared one of my favourite Walt Disney quotes.

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.

Walt Disney

In the afternoon we broke out into groups to collaborate on a strategy that meets our purpose as a group: to inspire and inform the next generation to consider a career in marketing. We plan to do this in 4 ways.

  1. Inspire through exposure and mentoring
  2. Influence the influencers
  3. Walk the talk – set students real life competitions to work on marketing briefs
  4. Educate through content and online courses.

We all presented back our ideas to the room on how we might start putting some actions into place. It’s safe to say we have a big job on our hands and we won’t be able to accomplish it alone however we do have a really good base on which to start and with the support we have from the advisory board and interested parties, I think we’ve got an exciting journey ahead of us.

I’ll keep you updated with the progress we make and any interesting ideas we come up with but if you have any questions or thoughts I’d love to hear them!