#MBNSkills at the IDM’s Creative Data Academy

Creative Data Academy

Wow. What a day. What a most excellent day.

I spent last Thursday in the company of some very inspiring people. I know, I talk about inspiring people quite a bit, but when you are fortunate enough to do the kind of job that I do you get to meet with quite a few folks regularly who fall into that category. A few days ago, I spent the day in the company of 30 seriously inspiring folks. Why? Because I was helping them focus themselves around the challenge of Employability within Digital and Data Driven Marketing.

I’d been asked by Lisa Masterton of the IDM/DMA to join their Creative Data Academy programme in Edinburgh for a half-day of Workshops and general discussion around Employability.

For the last couple of months I have been working to secure Industrial Placements for students who are currently studying MSc. level qualifications in Data at a variety of Scottish Universities through The Data Lab’s funding initiative – so I am very familiar with the challenges that students face orientating themselves around the demands of commerce when it comes to negotiating the crazy maze that is “securing that dream role”. The idea that Lisa had for inviting me to work with the Creative Data Academy’s students was to help get them thinking about the challenges of Employability as early in their career as possible. Accordingly, I was joined by 30 students from universities all over the UK – each of whom had applied (along with a huge amount of other, unsuccessful students) to join the Creative Data Academy programme. They were a seriously switched on bunch! I had to be on my game for these guys!

I base my #MBNSkills sessions on a simple logic. We learn as we experience. Those with experience in gaining employment are more knowledgeable than those with none. Those who have gained experience by securing employment in the Digital & Data space know the nuances of that sector. Let’s help those with no knowledge and experience by sharing our experience! It’s not exactly rocket science but I’m constantly amazed at how many individuals or organisations just don’t recognise the importance of doing this type of work. You can’t criticise the Talent Shortage as an individual or an organisation if you don’t try to do your bit to solve it!

We kicked off the sessions just after lunch at a Training Venue just off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. I started off with some guidance on CV Writing. We spent an hour or so debating the rights and wrongs of CV presentation – all based on my (oh my god have I been doing this that long?!) nearly 20 years in Talent Acquisition for the Data industry. I was certainly kept on my toes by a constant stream of questions, comments, points of view and challenges – just the way I like it!

We followed CV Writing with a session on Interviewing. From the research phase to the moment you walk in the door to how you follow up – we ran through it all! Again, I base my sessions on a simple logic: folks who might be brilliant at doing a job might not be brilliant at interviewing for the job! Simple logic – but I’m constantly amazed at the challenges both interviewers and interviewees face in the Digital & Data space but not paying heed to that simple fact. Let’s teach folks how to interview well – and help remove the bias that exists against those who cannot!

Finally, we spent some time looking at Networking skills. From Social Media to Meet-Up groups, we looked at networking in a number of different contexts. The students, many of whom are clearly more adept at utilising Social Media than I am judging by their Tweets, were keen to understand and learn the rules that govern those-oh-so-very-important initial dialogues in the networking space – both in the online and “real” worlds.

The day drew to a close around 5pm with the students heading off to practice their networking skills at a drinks reception after our sessions.

I was honoured to be invited to participate in an event of this nature. Thank you so very much to Lisa Masterton for asking me to take part. Thanks to the team at the IDM/DMA for making me feel so welcome and the most important THANK YOU goes to the amazing students who reminded me why I love my job so much. I hope that I inspired you half as much as you inspired me!!

If you are an Academic, University or Learning Institution interested in the #MBNSkills project then please get in touch – robin@mbnsolutions.com

Robin Huggins