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Learn from the apprentice: a conversation on upskilling

For October’s edition of The Marketing Society’s Global Conversation the theme was upskilling - how different marketers from across the globe have developed their own marketing and leadership skills - along with their teams - in a rapidly changing world.


We were joined by three very different brands, from three regions which added to a really diverse and eclectic mix or thoughts and opinions. They were Wendy McEwan, Head of Marketing & Digital, APAC, Knight Frank (representing APAC); Mark Evans, Managing Director, Marketing & Digital, Direct Line (representing UK); and Sherine Moneim, Marketing Director Beauty & Personal Care, Unilever (representing MENA).

Here's what I took from the session:

  1. The number one asset for any marketer is curiosity…. Any good insight is always just around the corner and you need to be curious enough to find it. "Einstein once said: “"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
  2. Take charge of your development, you are the only person responsible for making your best version of yourself
  3. You must get your team to own their own personal development. Some people think they will be spoon fed, but it takes a lot of effort and determination, with belief in their journey
  4. As a leader, you are a role model and others follow you. There’s no reason you shouldn’t do this with upskilling. Showcase your own development, so others focus on theirs
  5. Redundancy is a gift. It gives you the chance to look in the rear-view mirror and look at things with a fresh perspective. Remember what you’re good at, where you can add the most value and where you need to pivot to
  6. Intentional learning – the practice of using every experience as a learning opportunity. Make use of every situation, learning and unlearning every day. Don’t lock in a specific time every day to focus on development, think through a growth mindset of being better every day and upskill yourself in new areas
  7. Be a high expectation boss. Tell your team you believe in them and have got their back, but set big expectations. Michelangelo once said: “It's not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it's too low and we reach it.”
  8. Stay paranoid; don’t sit still; constantly learn
  9. Don’t expect to always learn from people in your own company or people more senior than you. Appreciate you can learn as much as from the apprentice as the CEO and learn from someone in another sector more than a competitor
  10. Gone are the days of only vertical progression, it’s about upskilling yourself in lots of different areas and exposing yourself to new things.

The speakers also shared two books that they found useful: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl and The Choice by Edith Eger.