Tag: CIM

Three things I learned from UCAS

Last week I had the pleasure of listening to Andrew Hargreaves, Director of Marketing Communications, speak about the transformational journey of change that UCAS is currently on.

Aside from some of the Higher Education sector specifics, which went a bit over my head, Andrew delivered one of the most engaging, funny and honest presentations I’ve seen in a long, long while. Here are three things he said which I thought were really cool, and I’m going to put into practice at The Growth Hub:

1. Fix one thing every 30 days

Each manager at UCAS has a ‘fix-it list’ – a collection of issues, challenges or barriers that need sorting out. There are 10 fix-its on each manager’s list and the target is to tick one of them off by finding a permanent solution, every month. You can start by tackling the ‘quick-wins’ to give yourself more time for the harder stuff, or go in with the big guns and make huge strides of progress, really quickly.

The reason this idea is so cool is because it makes shifting the rocks in the road, seem totally manageable. Roll forward a year and you’ll have sorted out 10 major blockages. What’s not to love?

2. CARE

model depicting CARE- culture, analysis, rational, emotionalThe CARE model stands for:

  • Culture: The culture at UCAS is ‘to be the conscience of the customer’.
  • Analysis: For UCAS this relates to tracking digital movement and behaviour, analysing it, and making marketing decisions that are based on data.
  • Rational: On a basic level, when a customer calls UCAS, is the service decent?
  • Emotional: On an emotional level, how does the customer feel about their experience with UCAS?

This is a useful model that any organisation can think about when embarking on Change. What is the culture, how will you analyse your customers/markets/services/performance, what are the rational and emotional connections you want to make?

3. Take responsibility for outcomes, not functions

At UCAS there are a group of managers who are responsible for results, for outcomes, for delivery. They are not responsible for functional areas of the business. This means that when they are solving a problem, they have absolute clear sight of what needs to happen, and the freedom to remove ‘management distractions’ and disregard hierarchical constraints when they need support from other teams or managers. Being responsible for an outcome sure does focus the mind.


Other than this presentation, my most recent experience of UCAS was when I bought media space from them for a digital campaign last year. I thought they were well organised and impressive. It’s interesting to hear about the inner workings of any organisation but the candid approach from Andrew made it even more exciting. I look forward to following UCAS on its travels and am pretty sure the road ahead will be a pleasant one.

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Women lack the confidence needed to be ambitious

Wonder Woman
We can’t all be career-baby-children-life-relationship-house-juggling super-heroes

There’s been a lot in the press recently about gender differences in the workplace. Three things in particular have caught my eye (and ear):

  • This CMI survey on the gender pay gap highlighting that male managers earned average bonuses twice as big as their female counterparts over the last 12 months
  • A discussion paper from CIM on Women in Marketing asking if women in our profession are victims of a glass ceiling
  • A broadcast on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour: ‘Be Ambitious,’ which begins with the phrase “A woman is bossy, a man is the boss”. You can hear the broadcast here:

It’s this last piece that is of most interest to me. The presenters (MD, writer and presenter Heather McGregor, and Careers Consultancy Chief Exec Penny DeValk) discuss the notion that an ambitious woman is not necessarily attractive and that this is in part why women seem to have a problem with reaching the top in business.

We are advised to take chances and to focus, perhaps a bit like a man would, on what we want from our career. Success is a result of confidence and ambition and these two behaviours are intrinsically linked. Women fall down because we lack the confidence needed to be ambitious, and therefore are less successful.

What suppresses ambition in women?

McGregor says that “Women are ‘aspirational’” and that the difference between aspiration and ambition is “doing something about it”. So why aren’t we doing enough to achieve our goals?

According to the CIM discussion paper, it could be because women are not very good at putting their hand up to take the credit for work done well and this has led to a lack of female role models. I have certainly found this to be the case in my career. I look around me and find that I can’t identify with a lot of the women I deem to be ‘successful’.

I think this is broadly because MOST of these women don’t have children, or if they do, then these women are career-baby-children-life-relationship-house-juggling super-heroes and this is not something I can hope to be like at this stage in my life (and nor do I want to be).

Unlike men, women on the whole, are not very good at career planning. Men will often apply for a job they are only 20% qualified for whereas a woman will wait until she’s 100% qualified. Perhaps this is to do with the fear of failure. Perhaps it’s to do with being ‘aspirational’ and not ambitious- being ‘hopeful’ of achieving success, rather than taking action.

So how do we become more confident?

McGregor says that taking small steps such as placing the Financial Times in your handbag so that people can see it when you walk in the room can build confidence. I think tactics like this can help but I plan to take more assertive action.

I’m going to surround myself with powerful, successful women, and if I can’t find these role models at work, then I’ll look elsewhere- the CIM, LinkedIn perhaps. I’m also going to write a career plan with action points showing how I’ll maintain my capital as a credible marketer through learning and skills development, so that my career stays ‘on track’.

And do you know what…? I’m going to start shouting loud about my successes, and my contribution to the bottom line so that when that dream job comes up that I think I’m only 80% qualified for, I have the confidence to go for it. (I doubt I’ll ever be someone that feels comfortable going for a job I can only do a fifth of).

I’m going to start taking a few more chances. Are you? 

What being ‘chartered’ means to me

Chartered Marketer LogoI was recently reading a discussion on Linkedin around Chartered Marketer status and what it means to those that do and do not have it. I didn’t join in the discussion but later was at a meeting where someone brought up the same topic and said they knew a marketer who was desperately trying to become chartered but couldn’t quite get there. It made me think about my own perception of the scheme and that of my employers.

Chartered Marketer is the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s “mark of an up-to-date, experienced and qualified marketing professional”.  To become chartered you need to complete 35 hours of continuous professional development (CPD) activity for 2 consecutive years, submit evidence of this to CIM and hold either MCIM or FCIM membership.

Because I am like I am I planned ahead and starting submitting CPD records before I had full membership of the institute. This meant that as soon as I finished my Professional Postgraduate Diploma I applied to upgrade my membership and therefore with it apply for Chartered Marketer. I must admit that I have never found it difficult to submit evidence of the more than 35 hours CPD I do a year but that’s because I am really committed to my own development and go out of my way to attend seminars, read the marketing press, get involved in academia and more.

However over the 3 years that I’ve been chartered I’ve become a bit negative about it. I used to hold it up on a pedestal thinking it was something really hard to attain and that those that did so were the most up to date in their field but since then I’ve started to see it as a money-making gimmick by CIM that only academics take seriously.

I have since realised that this perception came about because of the lack of value that’s placed on it by my employer and I think this devaluation is purely because of a lack of understanding around what it really means to have it. Where I don’t struggle to complete my 35 hours I know many, many people that do and I think that those who do commit to bettering themselves should be recognised.

My perception has come round full circle and I am back where I started believing it is something that is a challenge to attain and that those that put the effort in should be rewarded in some way. However I feel CIM has a lot of work to do to communicate the importance of the scheme to employers and non-chartered marketers. I am not sure CIM knows what the value proposition is of its own product and this should be made clear in any subsequent marketing of it.

I will continue to submit my CPD records and pay that little bit extra in my membership fee but also feel somewhat disappointed that the only place the words ‘Chartered Marketer’ seems to have any resonance is on my Linkedin profile.