My Fellowship Experience by Alex Haitoglou, Chief Commercial Officer at Utility Warehouse

Many years ago, while being a brand manager at a global FMCG I was also leading their global coaching course. I have a passion for people development, and it was one of the best ways to bring it to work, in parallel with my business duties. During that time, I saw some very surprising data from an annual survey across functions and levels regarding overall development and coaching.

At the more junior levels of the company, the support, training and development available was reported very high, the opposite was the case though for the more senior roles. Most directors and VPs did not feel that there was enough support or learning opportunities, neither at a corporate level nor from their managers.

Having talked about this with a lot of people over the years, and experienced it in another multinational organisation myself, it seems to be the norm rather than the exception in many companies. The absence of opportunities to learn, grow, get real honest feedback and even have people to ask for help and advice is startling at senior management levels. This does feel counter-intuitive, as the need for it is arguably bigger the more the responsibilities grow and the potential impact that it has on the company bottom line a lot more significant.

Add to that the specific challenges for managers with marketing background, especially the ones that end up with the highest marketing roles in an organisation. They are faced with some fascinating challenges: CMOs are the “first ones to go”, with the board position having the highest turnover across the board, and across most industries (HBR, Why CMOs never last). Not surprisingly, as 4 out of 5 CEOs declare dissatisfied with their CMOs. Moreover, very few CMOs make the transition to CEO altogether. It can get very lonely at the top.

Let’s recap; the people most responsible for organic growth in a company, the ones entrusted with growing the customer base and top-line sales, are not trusted by their CEOs, have little chances to get to the top spot, and have little support or learning opportunities on how to change all that.

Cue the Marketing Academy Fellowship Programme. Sherilyn and her team, together with McKinsey, have spotted the above pattern, and too action by creating the programme. Getting accepted has been a career, but even more importantly a personal, development highlight.

What the Fellowship is:

-An opportunity to create an incredible network of incredibly talented individuals with marketing background that you can connect with, bounce ideas off, get inspired from and occasionally have too many drinks with. The stories, emotions and learning from each other are on their own a reason to apply to join.

-Fantastic quality learning experience on how to run businesses, from strategy and finance, to customer experience and change management.

-A deep dive into who you really are, and how you really want to grow, transform, lead yourself and others.

What it is not:

-For the fainthearted, or for those that will not put the time and effort into it. After all, taking almost 3 weeks off the day job for personal development, plus the effort and time in between over a course of a year is something that you really want to commit to personally, and align it with your business and family, otherwise you will not get much out of it.

Personally, I have been inspired and learned a lot from my fellow fellows, got hands-on skills that I am already applying in my role, but most importantly clarified what are my values and what I am prepared to accept as consequences for living those values, positive and negative.

Learning, personal development, and people to talk to when the going gets tough (or to relentlessly WhatsApp with) is more than I expected, and what I needed this year. Plus our fellows community will carry on for the years to come.

From my heart thank you to all the fellows, Sherilyn, Thomas, Fliss, Mckinsey and the broader team that made this possible.


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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