ISBA partners with Marketing Academy to equip marketers for the C-Suite

Trade body ISBA is to be a founding partner of The Marketing Academy’s soon-to-launch Fellowship mentoring scheme, designed to equip senior marketers for the boardroom and address what the industry body describes as the “criminal” under-representation of the discipline at the top of business.

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The free programme, first revealed by Marketing Week in January, will be open to all director-level marketers and will offer a team of mentors and coaches including chairmen and board executives from functions such as finance and human resources, management consultants and M&A experts. There are 15 places up for grabs on the Fellowship, which begins in May.

It will be similar in set-up to the Marketing Academy’s existing programme for mid-level marketers, which has been running since 2010. Marketing Week is a partner of the mentoring scheme alongside Nokia, O2, Microsoft, Mondelez and British Gas.

ISBA’s involvement in the programme stems from a survey of senior level members last summer which revealed a demand for something to help marketers reach the boardroom.

ISBA chief executive Mike Hughes told Marketing Week: “It is criminal that most boards do not have a marketing director as an equal partner around the [boardroom] table. There are a few reasons for that but the fact is it’s a big gap, not just for the profession, but because topline growth has got to be the way forward in a flat economic environment.”

The organisation is making a commitment to improve marketing’s reputation as a strategic driver behind business so that it is not judged as just a discipline that creates “nice ads”, Hughes adds.

A report last year by the Fournaise Marketing Group found that 70 per cent of chief executives lack trust in chief marketing officers (CMOs).

Speaking to Marketing Week at a World Federation of Advertisers event in Brussels last week, Andy Fennell, global CMO of Diageo, told Marketing Week that marketers wishing to increase their influence in the boardroom would benefit from using the language of business. “There is a lot more jargon in the world of marketing than there needs to be and I think marketers would benefit from using the language of business and not marketing jargon. I would like to be slapped for every piece of marketing jargon I use because it doesn’t help.”

AB Inbev CMO Miguel Patricio told Marketing Week at the same event that consumer goods companies that do not feel marketing’s influence in the C-suite will fail. “Marketing in my company and my world has to start and finish the conversation. If there are companies where that doesn’t happen then it is either a weakness of the company or a weakness of the marketing team.”

The Marketing Academy is understood to be seeking three or four sponsors to invest around £100,000 in the programme. The initiative launched this week at the annual ISBA conference.

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