Why we need to grow our own talent

CX Lavender Genus Program leader Tess Lavender
By CX Lavender Genus Program leader Tess Lavender | 11 September 2018
Tess Lavender

Once upon a time, our industry took pride in the training it provided its people. David Ogilvy famously used to describe his agency as “the teaching hospital of agencies”.

In recent years, as advertising agencies have battled shrinking margins and played catch-up with an endless stream of technological changes, the focus on training has taken a back seat. We may have less time and money than we used to, but I happen to believe training is worth the investment, today more than ever. After all, as anyone in this business will tell you – people are our only point of difference.

We certainly can’t expect young people to stumble into our industry possessing all the necessary skills. An AdNews special investigation earlier this year found that media and marketing courses at university are lagging behind the commercial realities of our industry, churning out graduates who are lacking the skills required to excel in a workplace that demands the latest thinking in data, technology and customer experience.

Rather than investing to fill the gap, the response from the majority of marketing departments and agencies is to bypass graduates and instead hire people with a few years’ industry experience up their sleeve, according to the report.

This seems to me like an incredibly shortsighted approach. At a time when the best and brightest are increasingly being lured by tech companies and consultancies, we have to be putting our best foot forward to attract our fair share of the talent of the future.

As a business that’s half way between an agency and a consultancy, CX Lavender has always understood the importance of growing our own talent. The specialist nature of CX requires specific training and investment not ordinarily available – certainly not at university level. However, we also see it as a responsibility to contribute to the betterment of our industry through the training of our people.

Through our Genus Graduate Program at CX Lavender, we recruit up to eight bright and ambitious graduates each year as full-time staff members with designated clients, responsibilities and a salary – with a 10% pay rise after six months.

It’s not an internship, it’s a permanent job. We provide training, mentoring and support, and exposure across all different parts of the industry, from marketing to technology. Yes, a good internship offers all that as well, but we also provide a salary and all entitlements available to full-time employees.

Investing in young talent has short-term and long-term benefits for companies. In the short term, we’re breeding a special group of people who live and breathe our organisational culture, endowing them with all the necessary skills to contribute valuably in every area of our clients’ customer experience. In the long term, we are cementing our competitive advantage and creating an army of loyal employees, improving productivity and the outcomes we deliver to clients.

Many businesses are concerned about investing in their people only to lose them to competitors. That can happen no matter what industry you operate in, and not a legitimate excuse in my view for failing to grow your own talent.

While they’re with you, those talented individuals will be the best they can be. And when they move on, they’ll help lift the standards across the entire industry. And that’s something we can all benefit from.

Tess Lavender is Genus Program Leader at CX Lavender

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