Would you hire a marketer without a formal qualification in marketing?

As part of Marketing Week’s big debate on whether marketing ‘experts’ need formal training in marketing, we asked three CMOs and business leaders where they stand when hiring.

three-viewpoints-cover-story-4-aug-2016 ed
L to R: Zoe Burns-Shore (First Direct), Colin Lewis (OpenJaw Technologies), Nicholas Oliver (People.io)

Zoe Burns-Shore, head of brand and marketing, First Direct

I would definitely not be put off hiring someone if they didn’t have a marketing qualification. My team is a real mix of people with and without formal qualifications.

I also don’t believe that formal study gives you a stronger appreciation of aspects like segmentation or brand equity. It might give an idea of the theory that sits behind these areas but in practice it’s just as easy to grasp the principles of segmentation on the job as in the classroom. I see the value of some training in verticals to make a more rounded marketer, but not generic ‘marketing’ qualifications.

For me, what makes a good marketer is curiosity, creativity, an intuitive understanding of people and the ability to juggle at least 10 things at once. The rest you can learn as you go.

READ MORE: The big debate: Do marketers need a qualification in marketing?

Colin Lewis, CMO, OpenJaw Technologies

Nowadays the status of marketing is no longer determined by passing an exam, but by fake digital credibility measured by views and tweets. There is a creeping unprofessionalism if everyone believes they are a marketing genius.

Over the past few years, I’ve been amazed at the number of people who call themselves marketers. You appear to acquire marketing ‘expert’ status if you start writing or tweeting about it and then let the crowd vote by retweeting, commenting, getting Facebook likes and LinkedIn shares.

Part of the problem is that marketing is not seen as a profession, whereas the likes of accountancy or engineering have academic training and are governed by professional bodies.

These certifications have a legal context as you cannot practice without them. Maybe that’s the answer, you cannot call yourself a marketer without certification from your recognised trade body.

In my personal view, if it’s a marketing role and you don’t have a marketing background, I would only hire you if you had a specific technical skill.

Nicholas Oliver, founder & CEO, People.io

I have little to no formal education. I was kicked out of school and dropped out of university, so I didn’t study anything marketing- or advertising-related, but that has never held me back.

Formal marketing education is always related to theory and whereas some people thrive in education, I believe it is infinitely better to be hands-on. Over the past 10 years, everything has become more customer centric, so I wonder what you’re adding to the mix if you have studied at university.

While I’m not against formal education, I couldn’t care less if someone I hire has formalised training. If we had followed the traditional processes, we wouldn’t have started the company in the first place.

Just as a job in tech doesn’t rely on having a computer science degree, the same is true of marketing. Having the ability to get out there and talk to people, as well as taking the initiative to teach yourself, are the less defined elements marketers need in their arsenal.

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