Thursday 20 May 2021

IPA Business and Agency Leadership: throw yourself in!

Emily Pockley, Client Partner, AJF Partnership, was one of this year’s delegates at what is renowned as a ‘gold standard’ IPA course. Here she shares her thoughts on an immersive and transformative experience. 

The three-day residential IPA Business and Agency Leadership course is finished and I’m sitting quietly in the car on my drive home. I don’t want the radio on and I’m aware of the memory of Johann Hari’s 2015 Ted Talk “Everything you know about addiction is wrong” slowly making its way back into my consciousness. In it he talks about “The opposite of addiction is connection”.

As people who work in advertising we are in many ways addicts. Addicted to working hard, playing hard, being hard, geared to shy away from vulnerability and pushed to always be ‘on’. We are conditioned to think these hardened behaviours will lead to opportunity and success.

We are wrong.

I expected this course to be inspiring and motivating, and it was. But, for me, it was far more pivotal than just that. I felt connected to 15 other people who I had never met before because we exposed nerves and scar tissue and forgot the comfort of our day-to-day trenches.

Speakers and delegates put their heart and soul on the line and delved into redefining success and leadership from many different perspectives. Frances Deng’s remarkable story of resilience, perseverance and optimism; Kath Blackham’s trailblazing approach to the working week; Aimee Buchanan’s critical analysis of her own behaviour; Chris Howatson’s ice baths; Martine Jager’s focus on choice over compromise; And Sid De’s year of saying ‘yes’; And the imposter syndrome that haunts us all.

On day one, Melinda Geertz said “Don’t treat your life with such urgency” and I find myself thinking of this still. There is lots of time to create interesting opportunities that could point to incredible possibilities and future leadership that is strongly connected to personal beliefs and values.

You won’t walk away from this course with a recipe, or a toolbox, but you will have new armour. Strength and determination from everything you’ve learnt.

As I left The Cullen I realised that, whilst I was aware of the tremendous experience I’d just been part of, it was probably in the coming days, weeks and years that I would really understand how important this training has been.

To everyone involved, thank you for all that you put in so I could get so much out. This course was transformative, invigorating and deeply personal and I urge anyone considering doing it in 2022 to throw themselves in.

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