Evolution Lab 2016: Rather than having a perfect CV, future talents in the advertising industry need to be creative and curious

On the 18th of October, EACA organised “Evolution Lab Forum”, an event bringing together professionals from the advertising industry and academics from the field of commercial communications. The main objective of the event was to discuss future needs of the industry.

What skills are needed for agency talents?

A panel discussion, moderated by Monique Gerritsen (Haute Ecole Economique et Technique, EPHEC) brought together:

  • Helen Brown, Global Chief HR & Talent Officer, MediaCom
  • Arnoud Versluis, NHTV University of Applied Sciences
  • Janet Markwick, COO, Grey EMEA
  • Richard Brooke, Media Operations and Strategy Director – Europe, Unilever

Its aim was to identify current skills gaps and future needs, determine which role education can and should play according to these needs and spot expectations from key players of the new complex advertising reality.

“I’m not looking for Instagram-picture-perfect young graduates. I’m looking for candidates with qualities such as critical thinking, curiosity and problem-solving skills” said Helen Brown, Global Chief HR & Talent Officer, MediaCom when asked what she was looking for when hiring a young graduate.

For jobs in finance or accounting, “hard skills” are needed, but for creatives or account managers, personality is essential. Janet Markwick, COO from Grey EMEA, underlined that “curiosity, creativity, and thinking out of the box is crucial in advertising; having just a degree is not sufficient anymore”.

Arnoud Versluis, Lecturer Marketing at NHTV, added that despite trends shifting in the industry, students still need a foundation to build further skills on. Furthermore, students need to be challenged and motivated by educational institutions as this is how they learn; it is essential to prepare them for the job market.

How to get a job in the industry?

Tips were given by Helen Brown on how to get a job in the industry as a young graduate, in particular on how to behave during an interview. “Students should do more research on how it is to work in the industry, network with industry professionals at fairs, follow and engage with them on Twitter, so that they are best prepared for the interview and know what working in an agency means” she said.

How can agencies attract and retain young talents?

It is no secret that millennials are often attracted to work for big companies such as Google or Apple. Richard Brooks, Media Operations and Strategy Director Europe, Unilever, agreed with that statement and commented that the main issue for those companies is the volume of people. Namely, they simply can’t employ enough people even though the demand to work for such big corporations remains high.

So how can agencies win the hearts of young graduates and later on, retain this talent? Following recent trends, young graduates might be interested to move on quickly in their careers by changing employers as soon as opportunities arise.

“To attract great talents you need to be a very attractive brand”, said Janet Marwick. “You have to create a culture where talents can grow. Young generations need to know they’re doing great work; the role of leaders is to nurture that talent through valuable feedback, so that talents stay.”