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Q&A: IAA UK Chapter, the industry leaders nurturing advertising and media talent

Established in 1938, the IAA is the international trade body for the advertising industry, with chapters all over the world run by experts who volunteer their efforts. Last month, the UK Chapter confirmed a new committee of industry leaders, focused on nurturing and developing talent. WNIP caught up with Fran Cowan, VP of Marketing for the IAA’s UK Chapter, who heads up the newly formed committee to find out more…

Can you give us some background about the IAA?

The International Advertising Association is the world’s only globally-focused integrated advertising trade association with membership representing advertisers, agencies and the media. It operates an international network of Chapters across 56 countries, with a focus on promoting the role and importance of advertising, providing industry forums to exchange views on emerging policy issues and industry trends, nurturing professional development at every career stage, and advertising self-regulation.

What are the core focus areas for the IAA in the UK and globally?

The IAA has a vested interest in the entire marketing communications profession. We’re uniquely positioned to represent all three industry parties: advertisers, brands and media owners. As a result, our areas of focus span marketing, advertising and media – with a particular spotlight on nurturing and developing talent and creativity at all levels across the industry.

Why the focus on nurturing and developing talent?

As an organisation the IAA has always been committed to developing talent, especially among young professionals. Advertising is home to an amazing blend of diverse minds and experiences and everyone can tell a story of someone who shaped their growth and learning – quite often the IAA has played a pivotal part in that journey.

Continuing this cycle of learning is key to the future of our industry – and it’s also the reason why our new UK marketing committee has a specific focus on supporting and extending the IAA’s learning and development programmes to professionals across the sector. Whether it’s inspiring a graduate just starting out, or helping an experienced C-Suite industry leader looking to hone their skills or take on a new career direction, the IAA has something really valuable to offer.

Our committee members come from all corners of the communications industry, all with varying experiences and expertise, all at different stages of their careers. Through networking events, such as business lunches and speed mentoring sessions, and training programmes, like our annual and globally renowned PAC event, we hope to teach, guide and mentor advertising talent. It really is a pleasure to be able to share the knowledge we have gained throughout our careers with fellow advertisers, marketers and communicators looking to succeed in the sector.

How much of an impact could Brexit have on UK advertising talent?

This has been a well-debated topic since the referendum vote in 2016, and with things looking as uncertain as ever, it’s rightly still high on the agenda. For decades the UK has attracted a diverse range of talent, not only from Europe, but from across the globe. The openness, diversity and quality of talent this has brought UK agencies has been instrumental to their success in delivering award-winning, globally-noteworthy campaigns.

The worry that in leaving the EU the UK will lose some of its appeal for skilled migrants, leading professionals to instead gravitate towards less restricted European countries, remains a real one. Last year, data analysed from LinkedIn revealed the UK had actually become an exporter of talent, with more workers moving from the UK to other EU member states than arrived from elsewhere in the trade bloc, and inflows from other countries were unable to offset the outflow. The potential depletion of talent could trigger brands to take their business elsewhere, which would in turn feed the talent acquisition problem. It could be a vicious circle.

Brexit may be out of our hands, but we can control how the industry responds to it. The Advertising Association’s Brexit Preparedness Campaign, which launched last month, is a great example of industry leaders providing guidance in order to ensure the sector is ready to leave, whatever the outcome of a deal. Attracting overseas talent relies on continued promotion of the UK’s world-class status, its successes and capacity to help professionals achieve their goals. Nurturing home-grown talent is equally important – ensuring the industry continues to both provide opportunities for the next generation of advertising leaders and support the growth of current employees.

Tell us more about the new UK marketing committee?

The creation of the marketing committee follows the IAA’s 80th anniversary last year and global rebrand, so maintaining our position as the global compass of marketing communications is at the heart of what we’ll work together to achieve.

We have an amazing team of experts on board, all volunteering their time and expertise to support the UK Chapter’s mission:

The IAA plays an integral role in the international ad industry, representing agencies, brand owners, and publishers. The formation of the UK committee will help to further extend our reach and enable our members to share valuable insights, advice and knowledge, while promoting our work to the wider industry. It’s great to have so many amazing people on board and we’re already working hard to deliver against the IAA’s core values.

Aside from talent, what other initiatives or industry trends will the UK committee be championing?

As a focus, talent development is a broad umbrella that allows us to hone in on a number of important areas for our industry: diversity and inclusion, equal opportunities, career growth through networking, and education, for example.

The committee will be instrumental in supporting the wider work of the UK Chapter, from its networking sessions designed to connect professionals across the industry and aid career progression (including our renowned Summer Ball and Christmas Lunch) to seminars on trending industry issues. The IAA Leaders Series is another example of an initiative we’ll be supporting, helping senior leaders formulate impactful business strategy and forge influential relationships at the very top of the industry.

Overall, the IAA is ideally positioned to explore the issues resonating across our sector – everything from ‘unconscious bias’ to the gender pay gap. And where possible, the UK Chapter’s committees are dedicated to building partnerships that support change – such as our recent collaboration with HERlarious, an event series with the aim of encouraging more women to take the lead in agencies and marketing teams.

On the whole, we’re working to raise awareness of the IAA and all the work it does to support professionals in our industry throughout their careers, providing opportunities, building relationships and sharing expertise.

Thank you – we’d like to wish the committee the very best of luck.