Written by Jason Baker, Strategic Director at Hunterlodge.
Agencies get asked to do all sorts of weird and wonderful things by clients. The highlight of my time as a Strategy Director has to be racing 20 miles against the clock to buy a box of Cadbury’s Cream Eggs from the only cash & carry with stock to meet a DM mailing deadline… any time anyone asks me ‘what do you actually do?’ I chuckle a bit before I answer, thinking of that day.
But for all the things from the exciting to the mundane that fill our weeks in ever ebbing volumes, we sometimes get asked to do things that are very personally rewarding.
We run a lot of training and facilitation for clients, everything from 1-2 hour workshops to multi day training programmes, but recently I found out there is a BIG difference between training and teaching.
For the past three years, we have been working with Birmingham City University (BCU) doing just that – teaching.
BCU is known for real world learning and is heavily practice based. Hunterlodge is known for starting at the end – with results. The two, it turns out, are a perfect match.
Sarah Artis (Client Services Director) and I have had the honour of guest lecturing on both UG and PG marketing courses with help from various members of the Hunterlodge team. I like to see it as helping to mould young minds in pursuit of marketing greatness – you might disagree if you had the chance to witness one of our sessions! We used real case studies from our own agency effectiveness archive to introduce students to everything from the most basic marketing principles to some of our most advanced tools and techniques. Far from being parachuted in for a couple of hours to pontificate, we worked closely with the BCU lecturers to create a series of lectures and an assessment task that forms part of the student’s final grade.
When you spend the vast majority of your time sitting across the table from people who have put a lot and time and effort practicing and honing their specialties and crafts, the most fascinating thing is that you can actually witness and track the students journey of discovery – moving from eager and enthusiastic wonder to enlightened and practiced confidence. It is a bit of a cliché but if you have never stood in front of a room of fresh faced students who have low expectations of what is to come, it’s pretty rewarding when you start to visibly see the pennies start to drop.
The difference between professional gigs training and facilitating other professionals is that it’s all about the tools, processes or techniques. Peers have an opinion and a point of view. When they question, they are normally clarifying or validating before deciding to filter and then accept or reject what you have to say. If your subject matter is deemed relevant and useful, it stays. If not? Well…
But when you stand at the front of that room as a teacher, that’s when you see it. When you stand at the front of that as teacher, it’s no longer about effectiveness or efficiency – it’s about people.
That’s the penny that dropped for me. It’s the difference between sharing information and imparting knowledge. Between ‘key takeouts’ and assimilation. The people who leave a training session, leave better equipped. The people who leave higher education are changed.
People say getting a University degree have become commoditised, or that it is too easy to get a degree. To be fair, I was probably one of them, but standing at the front of that room has changed me as much as I hope it’s changed them.