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How to build the best foundations for your business

How to build the best foundations for your business
Any successful career should be grounded in a thorough understanding of the industry you have joined. The business of advertising is a complex, fast-moving landscape of theory and practice – ‘part science, part genius’ – and in such a competitive environment new starters need to hit the ground running.

Pioneered in 2004 by Stephen Woodford, the then IPA President, the IPA Foundation Certificate does precisely this.  

It provides your new recruits with an introduction to the industry and its processes, the roles of the myriad of agency types, and best practice approaches to strategy, briefing, creative, media and effectiveness. This equips them with the essential knowledge and confidence to navigate their way through the complexities of today’s media and marketing landscape - without which, could take several years to acquire.

Sam d’Amato, Chief Strategy Officer of M2M reinforces the length and breadth of the course content: “The Foundation Certificate was a light bulb moment for me. For the first time I appreciated what the hell everyone did!  I understood how the different parts fit together and what a holistic conversation with clients could and should entail”. 

It has also proved the ultimate springboard for an individual’s career. As David Golding, Founder and CSO, adam&eveDDB, and Foundation Certificate Graduate in 2004, describes it:

“The IPA Foundation Certificate was the first time I really appreciated that advertising was a profession shaped as much by skills and knowledge as it is by passion for great creativity. It made me see how the two together are uniquely powerful forces in business.”

Quite simply it has become a rite of passage.

And a stepping stone on the path to professional accreditation through the IPA’s Accredited MIPA personal membership scheme.

And it is not just young executives in advertising agencies that are completing the Certificate: it is as suitable for young creatives, media, tech and digital practitioners as individuals starting out in marketing departments: in recent years we have welcomed delegates from Google, Diageo, RSA, The Guardian, Direct Line, Mondelez, Sony Music, Unilever and Tesco.

This is hardly surprising when one considers the business benefit of investment in staff: IPA data shows a strong correlation between business performance and investment in training, in fact the businesses that invest more tend to grow quicker.

Evidence from CPD submissions suggest the impact of this investment reaps rewards across the business, for example: greater client retention, positive client ratings of the agency, healthier margins and profitability, reduced staff churn and better employee satisfaction. Add to all that better than average new business wins and savings in recruitment costs make the investment an easy decision to make.

But you don’t just have to take our word for it, ask the 8,999 new starters in the UK advertising industry who have passed this qualification, or the additional 1,820 in over 60 countries worldwide. Furthermore, these numbers are set for a sharp increase as we’re establishing the qualification as a global standard, with agency networks including BBDO and Ogilvy, and professional bodies like the 4As in USA, 4As in Malaysia and IAS in Singapore, TCC in Australia and EACA in Europe having adopted the Foundation Certificate as the benchmark qualification for new starters.

It makes sense to give your new recruits the best start with the IPA Foundation great for business Certificate.

Patrick Mills is Director of Professional Development at the IPA.

The 2016 IPA Foundation Certificate is open for bookings from today (29 September), find out more at




Last updated 29/09/2016

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