When I was told by Sally that I had been chosen to attend the media business course, I obviously excited about what might be in store. But I was also curious - because every ex-attendee I spoke to used the word "amazing" to describe it. Naturally as a pessimist, I expected the worst so that I wouldn't be disappointed.
My colleague Jon Hill and I jumped on the 7:39 from Victoria to Brighton. We spent the whole journey evaluating the information that we had received from numerous sources and questioning its reliability. Upon arrival, Brighton station was a sea of familiar faces from media owners to media free loaders.
On meeting my team members for the course, I was surprised by the scope of experience and disciplines in the group, from outdoor leads to search specialist. Our team leader was an experienced strategist who managed to find a common approach to dealing with all the 9 different archetypes in the group.
We sat down, eagerly awaiting the first speaker, and up stepped Tim Lefroy (Advertising Association Chief Executive) - a titan in the game and a walking inspiration. His charm and ability to captivate the audience was only matched by ex-course attendee Carolyn McCall (EasyJet CEO) who left you wanting more. The first day was about Inspiration and Planning. We were taught about the difficult but rewarding strategic decisions that are essential to engaging with consumers and meeting client’s objectives.
Media was the agenda for day two, with highly regarded individuals from the world of TV, print, outdoor, radio, mobile and social graced the stage to make a case for their medium. Whilst day three was all about creativity and the day I learnt that Paddy Power have a 'Head of Mischief'. Paul Sweeny (Head of marketing, Paddy Power) spoke about their brilliant rainbow laces campaign, which has grown over the years and expected to be even bigger next year. We were blessed to hear from a variety of speakers who not only shared their experiences but also advised us on how to be the best we can. The end of the course was the stuff of a teenage love film; beautiful and emotional. Closing the scene was Richard Eyre. A man who told us that if our fears were greater than our dreams then we will always live in regret.
So, what about the work? Well, we received our brief on the first day. Room 418 on the 4 floor. with a beautiful sea view and a big round table, was our stomping ground for the duration. After awkwardly introducing ourselves, we argued, discussed and debated about the brief, only stopping to have dinner. In fact, we didn't conclude until 2 am, which in hindsight was a blessing because the next day we didn't finish till 4:30 am. Sleep was a luxury that we only received in small doses. Sally was our group mentor. She gave us direction when we were lost and broke invisible barriers that none of us could overcome. All the fall outs and furious debates were all worth it at 6:50pm on Friday after presenting in front of 3 illustrious and demanding judges.
After the presentation, the fun began. Together as a team we celebrated our great achievement. We congratulated each other. The drinks flowed and the night concluded in the local night club. I finally staggered home at 6:30 in the morning - missing the finalist announcement on Saturday morning because of my over celebrating. I was awoken by a phone call from a team member shouting that we had made it through to the finals.
I quickly got up and ready and made my way downstairs to present. As I stood on the stage in front of the current and future shapers of this great industry, with Sally filled with pride watching on from the back of the room, all I could think about is "don't be sick". Getting off the stage we were congratulated by everyone that we came across. Although we didn’t win, we felt like the people's champions'.
We are constantly presented with great opportunities in our lives. Some we grab with both hands and others slip through. The media business course is one that should be grabbed with both hands. It will live with you throughout your career.
The one word I would use to describe the whole experience is AMAZING.