The Back to the Business Ship programme is mid-way through and its delegates are turning their attention to their CVs, interviews and work placements. The aim of the programme, organised by Starcom Mediavest Group and partnered by the flexible working team at f1, is to equip senior media and marcoms professionals that have been out of the industry for a few years with the skills, confidence and know-how they need to jump “the gap” and get back into the workplace. We’ve been following two of the delegates as they complete the course and look for new employment. Ellie Dymond was previously in broadcast marketing and Sara Stockdale was in advertising. Both left the industry around five years ago.
The course has a wide remit. For example, personality profiling allowed delegates to assess how they interact and work with others. A course on presentation skills has been a particular highlight, emphasising the need to find and tell a story in every pitch. And Starcom experts have talked widely about how the media landscape has changed in the last five years. The arrival centre stage of social media might have worried returners. But our delegates are reassured. “It’s good to know that the principles and disciplines are the same, even if the methods of broadcast and targets of media spend have been transformed,” says Ellie. Sara feels similarly reassured that while a revolution has taken place in the media environment and in how you apply the creative, the traditional elements of the industry have stayed the same.
The issue of confidence comes up again and again. But none of these senior women lacks confidence. They are all capable and skilled. The point is that if you take anyone out of their ‘natural habitat’ for long enough they need references and entry points to help them get back into it – things to fill the vacuum that an absence inevitably creates. This is where the course has really scored by allowing these returners to spend time focusing on their skills and experience, and where f1 work placements (“returnships”) will help further. “Meeting like-minded people who are all in the same boat is a great help. For example, we look at what we have been doing rather than what we have not been doing. It’s an invaluable part of the process,” says Ellie. The work placements, organised by f1, will give delegates real life, contemporary marcoms experience to refer to in interviews. As Sara says, “it’s always a challenge moving roles in the industry even if you’ve not had a gap. I want to be at the point where I can walk right back into what I do and love.”