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A client's perspective on the IPA Foundation Certificate

A client's perspective on the IPA Foundation Certificate
ASOS Marketing Assistant, Katrina McLaren, on how the IPA Foundation Certificate has enhanced her understanding of the advertising industry.

Beginning my career as a Marketing Assistant at one of the most successful and fast-paced fashion retailers meant being thrown into the deep end! Coming from a design-based BA straight into my first job, I had never had any marketing ‘theory’ training, instead, I learnt on the job and figured it out as I went along. Even though I believe this is the best way to do it, and it has been incredible for broadening my knowledge quickly, it was obvious there were gaps.

I had heard about the IPA Foundation Certificate previously but had assumed that it was for agency-side employees only, so when my manager recommended I sit the exam I was really eager. She could see, having sat it herself, and coming from agency side originally how it would benefit me on a daily basis.  I was also keen to sit the qualification to gauge what my own knowledge level was in comparison to other graduates in the industry.

Having a busy work and social life since moving to London, I was worried that I might find it hard to put as much effort and time into studying for the Foundation Certificate as I wanted. Luckily I didn’t need to worry! The structure was really clear and digestible. The material being broken down into modules, with all learning done online, meant that I could be really flexible about when and how I did it.  It was easy to set weekly targets as the online resources were quick, informative and tracked my progress.

Although the Foundation Certificate ends with sitting an exam, right from the start I could see it influencing my daily work life.  I could relate what I was learning straight back to practical situations, meaning that when it came to revising before the exam I had put most of it into practice already!  Doing the IPA Foundation Certificate sparked my initiative to do a lot of industry reading, which I most likely wouldn’t have made time to do otherwise. Encouraged by the huge amount I’ve learnt this way, it’s something that I now take time out to do on a weekly basis – I believe it’s essential to what I provide in my role.

The second part of the qualification focuses on case studies with a wealth of resources to accompany them. I would never have been able to access this amazing detail and information without the Foundation Certificate, and it really helped to reinforce the importance of relating my learning back to practical examples. The emphasis placed on ‘effectiveness’ within the IPA was a real eye opener for me, especially working for a company where there is not necessarily a client to report back to. This really changed my behaviour around reporting and I have been a lot more disciplined and structured since!

The IPA has been instrumental to developing my career at ASOS and it has definitely helped me grow into my position within the company.  Working with agencies now, I understand what each team is doing for us and also what exact information they need from me to ensure we get the best from each other, to have a mutually beneficial end result. 

I would recommend the IPA Foundation Certificate to anyone coming into the industry, not just as a great qualification to add to a CV, but because you can instantly see the day-to-day benefits to your career. 

If you would like more information or to book a place on next year's exam please visit the Foundation Certificate page or contact

Last updated 05/10/2015

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