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Record number achieve distinctions in IPA’s highest qualification - the Excellence Diploma

Twenty-four industry practitioners have successfully completed the IPA’s Excellence Diploma, with a record-breaking five distinctions as well as fifteen credits and four passes. The successful individuals were awarded at a graduation ceremony last night (17th July) attended by leading industry figures.


View the photos from the graduation.

Known as the MBA of brands, the Excellence Diploma is a rigorous 12-month programme designed for individuals with at least six years’ experience who wish to push their thinking forward beyond their own discipline. The qualification provides individuals with an unparalleled expertise in brands, exposing them to leading industry thought leaders sharing their expertise and experience. As well as completing three core assignments, candidates must also write an inspiring 7,000-word “I believe” piece outlining their vision on the future of brands and brand communications. The best of these will be published as a Campaign supplement on the 5th September.

The Diploma has been chaired by Nick Kendall, former worldwide head of strategy at BBH, since 2004 and this year he was supported by co-chair David Wilding, head of planning at PHD, with essays and assignments marked and edited by an esteemed panel of industry experts.*

Full results:

The Presidents Prize:
Gethin James, Head of Planning, Lowe Profero

The Outstanding Body of Work:
Emily Fairhead-Keen, Business Director, MEC

James Borrodell Brown, Strategist, Zone
Gethin James, Head of Planning, Lowe Profero
Matthew Philip’ Strategy Director, Manning Gottlieb OMD
Emily Fairhead-Keen, Business Director, MEC
Richard Bradford, Group Strategy Director, MEC

Georgina Cottle, Senior Planner, The Red Brick Road
Pete Coates, Head of Online Performance, Carat Leeds
Richard Lamb, Head of Search, Performics ZenithOptimedia Group
John Tippins, Strategy Director, OMD UK
James Hankins, Head of Integrated Planning, Vizeum
Alastair Boyle, Partner & Head of Strategy, Essence
Ed White, Contagious magazine, Editor
Emil Bielski, Business Director, MEC
Tony Mattson, Managing Partner, Strategy, UM London
Mike Roberts, Strategist, Carat UK
Erik Arnell, Global Communications Strategist, Carat Global
Martin Harrison, Planning Director, Huge
John Jones, Strategist, BBH
James Boardman, Director - Client & Communications at MEC
Rohan Tambyrajah, Global Innovation Director – Unilever, PHD

Joanna Foyle, Worldwide Planning Tools Manager, Initiative
Matthew Turner, Strategist, Wunderman
Kenneth McKenzie, Strategic Planning Director, Publicis Dublin
Waqar Riaz, Head of Effectiveness and Lead Director, Social Media, Global Strategy Team, Cheil Worldwide

Says Patrick Mills, Director of Professional Development, IPA: “In an era of ever increasing accountability it is appropriate to have recorded a record class size for this most recent iteration of the IPA Excellence Diploma, this is surely a reflection of the programme in encouraging the participants to have confidence in their own ideas and develop original and vital ideas for the future of our industry and the brands we help build. There is no doubt that their agencies and clients will benefit greatly from their new found wisdom, which proves the value of this pinnacle of IPA qualifications, which now after ten years can certainly be described as ‘the MBA of Brands’.”

Says Emily Fairhead-Keen, Business Director, MEC who was awarded The Outstanding Body of Work: “The Excellence Diploma really stuffs you full of wonderfully rich information and opinion, for you to then move on with your own opinion, confidently and convincingly. Although my husband is perhaps secretly pleased we don't have to discuss brands over dinner, I secretly miss it and think myself incredibly lucky one to have done it.”

*IPA Excellence Diploma markers and editors:

Louise Ainsworth, CEO, WARC
Tess Alps, Non Executive Chair, Thinkbox
Paul, Bainsfair, Director General, IPA
John Bartle, Non Executive Chairman, Dare
Karen Buchanan, Chief Executive, Publicis
Pete Buckley, Strategy Director, MEC Global
Mark Earls, HERDmeister
Daryl Fielding, ‎Director of Brand Marketing, Vodafone
Peter Field, Independent Marketing and Advertising Professional
David Hackworthy, Chief Strategy Officer, Fallon
Tom Hampson, New Business Marketing, J Sainsbury plc
Janet Hull OBE, Director of Marketing and Reputation Management, IPA
Nick Kendall, Group Strategy Director, BBH
Mark Lund, Managing Partner, Now
Sophie Maunder-Allan, CEO, VCCPme
Craig Mawdsley, Head of Planning, AMV BBDO
Patrick Mills, Director of Professional Development, IPA
Steve Parker, Co-Chief Executive, Starcom MediaVest Group UK
Ian Priest, International MD, Chime Communications and IPA President
Gurdeep Puri, Founder, The Effectiveness Partnership
Leo Rayman, Head of Planning, Grey
Gideon Spanier, Media Editor, Evening Standard / Independent
Stuart Sullivan-Martin, Chief Strategy Officer, MEC Global
Sue Unerman, Chief Strategy Officer, MediaCom
David Wilding, Head of Planning, PHD
Stephen Woodford, Chairman, Lexis

The IPA is releasing a book celebrating ten years of the Excellence Diploma featuring a selection of the best essays over the years and analysis from leading industry figures. The book will be available to buy in Spring 2015.

The application deadline for the 2014/2015 Excellence Diploma is the 1st September 2014. To find out more contact

The IPA launched the Excellence Diploma in 2004, under the presidency of Stephen Woodford, to raise the real and perceived professionalism and value of marketing communications. Diploma modules cover: the role of brands, people and brands, brands and channel thinking, brands and creativity, brands and measurement, and brands and leadership. Candidates are given a mentor from their agency for support and to help them put the thinking into practice.

Last updated 23/07/2014

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