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Becoming a Marketing Academy Scholar by Simon McEvoy

Earlier this month I discovered I had been lucky enough to given one of thirty places on this year’s Marketing Academy Scholarship programme. The programme is designed to help those in senior marketing positions across the industry make the step up to becoming inspiring leaders. Taking place over the course of a year, scholars take part in Boot Camps, faculty days at various companies, mentoring sessions and even life coaching all designed to us find our ‘purpose’ and become better leaders.

So it was with a real sense of excitement and anticipation that I headed off for my first Academy ‘Boot Camp’, keen to discover more about myself but also about the group of talented, interesting people I was going to call my fellow Scholars for a year. After three days of intense learning, sharing and socialising, here are five of the most interesting things I learned.

1: Leadership is about listening

This was arguably my biggest take-out from the three days and as someone who loves to talk, one of the hardest things to put into practice! The message was loud and clear, leading people is about listening carefully and making sure people get heard. You may not always agree with what they are saying, but only by listening carefully can you build rapport. Taking this on board, I was reminded of a brilliant article on how to negotiate like a hostage negotiator and also a wonderful TED talk on the power of listening

2: Building trust is about openness and authenticity

On day one we heard an inspiring talk from Kevin Murray in which he spent most of his time telling us highly amusing anecdotes about his failures and set-backs. His openness and candour was refreshing and we immediately trusted him as a result. Later, as part of the ‘Living Leader’ programme we undertook, we revisited the same topic and learned how only by being open and honest with people that we want to lead, can we truly earn their trust and loyalty. You can see Kevin talking about leadership here

3: The important thing is where you’re going, not how you got there

As part of the living leader course we were encouraged to share our life journey to date with the rest of the group. Remarkably, people regaled virtual strangers with some incredibly intimate life stories, many very moving and all utterly unique. What was clear was that everyone had got to this stage in their lives by walking different routes, none of them wrong, all filled with ups and downs. But what was important now was setting our sights on where we wanted to be, whilst remembering that life is full of curve-balls and being able to react positively to the unexpected is just as important.

4: Power comes from responsibility

At the risk of sounding like I’m quoting a superhero movie, the relationship between leadership, authority and responsibility was a recurring theme throughout the three days. Only by taking responsibility for our actions and realising that everything we do has consequences can we truly earn the right to lead. Leaders take responsibility for their lives, understand how to make positive changes to the lives of others and don’t pass the buck.

5: My fellow scholars are genuinely lovely people!

It was remarked on more than one occasion how quickly our group had bonded, and being part of the group you could genuinely feel that here was a bunch of really like-minded people. On a personal level, it was my birthday over the three days and my fellow scholars went out of their way to make me feel really celebrated with a card, cake and multiple renditions of ‘happy birthday’ (almost a few too many, in fact). It is clear that here are a group that will add a huge amount to each other’s lives over the next 12 months and all of us are really looking forward to going through it together.

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The Scholarship – a 9 month, free, part time program for 30 of the UK’s fastest rising stars in Marketing, Advertising, Media and Communications.

The Fellowship – Equips CMOs and Marketing Directors with the tools, knowledge and insight to make the move onto Boards and into General Management / MD / CEO roles.

12 month full paid Marketing Apprenticeship for young adults who because of challenging backgrounds, lack qualifications or poor life choices are normally overlooked for this kind of work experience