We have a regular succession of outside speakers come into Agent3 to talk about who they are and what they do. We used to call these sessions ‘Lunch and Learn’ but as we have expanded globally over the last year, we didn’t feel it was fair to force our West coast colleagues to be awake before it was light to listen in, so we now have the sessions in the late afternoon, UK time! We still need to get round to renaming the sessions – any ideas? But I digress…
Having outside speakers such as the wonderful Elijah Lawal or the inspiring Cat Dutton come into the business to talk to us helps in a number of ways: it provides a broader perspective on the challenges we face in growing ourselves personally and professionally; helps us see how others have developed their skills and career; and also reminds us that the world we live in is a ‘bubble’ and that we need to reach out of it from time to time to stay grounded in reality. This was most strikingly brought to life when Simon Elliot visited us recently to talk about how the schools he oversees as a ‘super head’ in London’s East End have been transformed by the use of data driven teaching techniques (and, most crucially, by the hiring and deployment of a bunch of brilliant teachers).
Simon talked about the challenges of connecting with children at his schools who don’t have many of the usual advantages that we take for granted and who don’t often have a vision for what they could achieve with their careers post their education. Typically, the challenge for many of the kids in Simon’s schools is that the world that we inhabit (marketing, technology, digital etc) is just not known to them because their family and peer networks have no knowledge or experience in this world. Simon’s point was that many of these kids may struggle to therefore reach their potential not because they are not smart enough but because they don’t know what direction to strive for.
This set our team thinking and as a consequence we’re kicking off a program in our London office (which we will then extend to our other locations once we have proved the model) called Bridging the Gap. Our objective with this program is to work with some of the kids in one of Simon’s schools, Forest Gate Community School, to help them understand what we do, why it might be a great career for them and what they need to enter the world of digital marketing from a skills and education perspective. We started with a visit to FGC, hosted by the amazing Charlotte Whelan where we talked to around 30 students about marketing and Agent3 . From here, we now have three working sessions planned where groups of 14 and 15 year olds are coming into our London office to work in interactive sessions with our team members to learn about what we do.
The first of these sessions will happen before the end of this month and we’re all excited to see how things go. Our simple objective? To help inspire some of London’s schoolkids to think about building a career in a sector which they may not have considered and in which they could be very successful; we want to Bridge the Gap between our world and theirs. Marianne in our London office is overseeing the workshop delivery and is going to blog in due course about the experience; I’m sure it will make for fascinating reading so do come back soon to find out how the sessions went!