Comms Strategist Luke McGann reveals how the IPA Advanced Certificate boosted his career and what his key learnings were from it.
I finished the IPA Advanced Certificate last year and I’ll come straight to the point. Did it work?
Well, I don’t think a change of agency, a great new group of accounts, a new promoted position and a pay rise could have been possible without it! All these things have happened to me since I undertook this course. Interested? Read on.
I was working as a comms planner in a big agency and enjoyed my work, but I was ambitious and hungry. Hungry for more knowledge, more power and more recognition.
Actions speak louder and all that, so demonstrating a drive to self-improve seemed smart with the end result being that last year I undertook the IPA Advanced Certificate.
Being a comms planner I guess I came to this fairly prepared or at least exposed to many parts of the industry. There’s a breadth of knowledge to cover and I think generalists may have an initial advantage over specialists but only superficially, and only at the beginning.
In my agency, the majority studying were specialists of some sort so we set up an internal group to provide face to face support. We planned to meet every Friday but, with the best intentions, it rarely worked out that way.
However, we did agree that all of us would take turns presenting certain learnings back to the group so that everyone felt there were experts in one area.
It’s incredibly easy to feel you are all alone when you undertake study but there is a load of support on offer, so do make use of it.
I’ll refrain further from suggesting how to manage your work/study balance, nevertheless I will say that you’ll be truly advantaged in undertaking the course.
The depth and breadth of information, knowledge and insight, the case studies, and supplementary learning is quite incredible. And it’s there – all organised and packaged at your fingertips.
Arguably, our industry attracts a particular type to it (short attention span, demanding, direct) and I think the IPA knows its market. The course is crafted to suit anyone time poor and stressed out, but also curious and passionate.
The course places a lot of value on exemplification so citing case studies from the industry or better still, your own personal experiences from your work, is key to nailing the answers.
As this is online learning all the modules have executive summary files and hyperlinks to further information and reading. Blogging and sharing information is greatly encouraged so you immediately get a sense of not only the community of course students but of the wider IPA support sitting behind it all.
Plenty of us in this industry are fairly cynical about products and services claiming to promise the world, but I can promise you this course does what it sets out to do.
There are no nasty surprises, no hidden agendas.
When you get halfway through you’ll be hungry for more. When you complete it, you’ll be regretting that it’s over. In essence, it achieves its aims in three ways:
1) It introduces you to key areas of importance in our industry and develops structured understanding of them.
2) It encourages and supports your ongoing learning in an industry where complacency inevitably leads you to the door.
3) Finally, it bolsters your self-belief in a very competitive and fast changing world.
For me, the real value of the course was the ongoing effect it has had on my own learning path and my confidence. I can’t tell you the number of client meetings or catch-ups with colleagues where I have been able to speak with real confidence or pepper the conversation with anecdotes and facts taken from my course.
This was fuelled by the wealth of supplementary material that the modules featured – links to certain reports, mention of relevant texts and authors, recommended sites and case studies.
I’ve always loved advertising as an entire industry whether it is its personality, its energy or its relentless drive forward.
But I have always loved smart thinking even more. Honestly consider giving this a go. It’s an opportunity to start your journey of learning and respect for smart thinking.
It should not be a short-term means to an end but the launch of a smarter, more polished and more confident future for yourself.
Luke McGann is a Comms Strategist at AMS Media Group.
Book your Advanced Certificate online qualification place ahead of the November start.
Last updated 10/09/2014