Brian Doidge, Chair, CIM South West Regional Board
Recently I enjoyed an incredibly thought-provoking meeting with a very good friend, who lectures for a major UK University. I was fascinated by the importance that they place on enabling their student teachers to work toward becoming “valued professionals within a valued profession”. In fact, it made me ask if the expectations that her institution has of its potential graduates, are actually very similar to those that could be expected of marketing professionals.
For example for us, having the qualities that allow wider society to readily connect with us, as appropriately trained and highly skilled practitioners, is clearly important, as is showing that we have met the specific criteria set out by our own Chartered professional body. It seems to me that those who can demonstrate consistent and effective performance, somehow seem to be more likely to thrive in our demanding operating environment. Indeed, continuing to demonstrate tangible professional development and how we have made a significant impact within our practice, clearly adds value to our standing. So, I was very interested in what she had to say about what the University saw as the key attributes of a rounded practitioner.
The conversation quickly saw her explaining to me that the University are clear that having a core knowledge and seeking out new current research independently, is almost becoming a hygiene factor within teaching, in that it is very much seen as just a given. Her second point was also very interesting and indeed upon reflection, I felt it was really pertinent for our own profession. This she highlighted is where we need to reassure others that we still have a thirst for knowledge and a passion to grow our skills and that this is still something of a differentiator, as is having an understanding of own abilities she felt.
Another attribute was striving to achieve excellence and developing confidence, underpinned by honest self-awareness and reflection, which she felt was also seen as a key factor. However, she also made the point that although taking personal responsibility for our own learning and grasping opportunities for self-development, can often seem a big ask and indeed be perceived as a distraction by some, it is also clear that it goes hand in hand with being viewed as a valued professional.
Within marketing of course, it is fundamental to our own professional standing and allows clear links to us being open to an array of new ideas, methods and ways of thinking. Being able to respond effectively to unfamiliar problems in unfamiliar contexts, was another part of the conversation that had clear parallels.
One part of our conversation that particularly struck a chord, was something that I felt could be argued to be even more important for marketers and that was having the capacity to thrive in our global community. Indeed, having an awareness of cultures beyond and different to our own and acknowledging these differences with respect, is arguably our hygiene factor. As an outward looking, customer centric profession, it would indeed be worrying to discover anything to the contrary I felt.
The final part of our conversation centred upon communication and I listened attentively about how the University feel that there is a real need for professionals to be able present and explain information clearly and with confidence and integrity. In addition the point was made that as well as transmitting, a good professional is defined as one who can listen to others consciously and with respect. Dialogue not monologue, perhaps a good learning point for all of us?
It did start to feel that we have demanding person specification as professionals, but when I thought about it, having the type of job that is respected, tends to very quickly get beyond the simple definition of getting paid for what you do. For example, we know that Chartered Marketer status recognises those marketers achieving the highest level in our profession. It demonstrates commitment to keeping up-to-date and is awarded via a combination of experience and qualifications and reflection. Participating in an active yet focused CPD programme can allow you to benchmark your skills against our Professional Marketing Competencies framework. In turn this enables you to identify any gaps in your knowledge and directs you to a range of activities to help you overcome them.
We are spoilt for choice within how to pursue our development endeavours though aren’t we? We know that we can work towards obtaining some world class qualifications, or partake in more local activities such as regional events for example. We must remember though that we are on a professional journey and constantly striving to be as good as we can be. It will take a bit of effort, but it will be interesting and worthwhile.