The crisp air of an early Cookham morning stung my eyes as I stepped down from the train and a solitary bead of sweat broke free from my right temple. As I blinked, the scarring images of Channel 4’s ‘Royal Marines Commando School’ animated behind my pupils and a lump stood to attention in my throat. It was time for the Marketing Academy Boot Camp.
I smiled unconvincingly at the receptionist and walked onto the pristine turf of the Moor Hall quad where I was joined by 29 others, fresh-faced and eager, from marketers to entrepreneurs, ad men and women to consultants, planners to designers. A heady mix of creativity and ambition, we walked into the conference room, took our seats, reached for a low-grade biscuit and braced ourselves.
All heads suddenly turned as the infamous ‘Sherilyn’, flame-haired and charismatic, burst through the doors, threw her arms open and welcomed us into the Marketing Academy family. The more she spoke the more it became evident that this was no traditional marketing or management programme, but one focused on unlocking what you can bring to others through leadership and influencing. The top Chairmen, CEOs, Entrepreneurs and Coaching professionals who followed her, each experts in their field, left us in a cold sweat of awe and excited anticipation. Our personal leadership visions were already beginning to formulate as we shuffled into the canteen, chose a lightly garnished salad (when each of us really wanted the curry and chips) and began hungrily to learn more about each other.
The following days, weeks and months brought more inspiring speakers, industry leaders and mentors, bearing their souls with unashamedly audacious insight. “Embrace failure and learn from it”, “Fuck incrementalism”, “Show your moral compass” and “Don’t always seek reassurance, know when you’ve done a good job, because the higher you climb the less oxygen there is” to name a few. This was combined with social exploits from Swingers golf and late night jaunts surrounded by Berlusconi paraphernalia to Elvis impersonations and the bizarre local delights of Newbury. I may already have said too much – what happens on Boot Camp stays on Boot Camp.
As a whole quite simply no other initiative is comparable. The Marketing Academy Scholarship Programme can propel you from the fantasy of career aspiration into the reality of self-understanding, clear leadership mentality and purpose. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll emerge armed with the skills, tools and beliefs to progress your professional and personal life. Not to mention a network of connections and friendships that provide unparalleled support and guidance as you develop. It might sound schmaltzy but I feel like I’ve written the first proper chapter in the story of my career. If you have the chance to apply, jump at it.