These are tough times in our industry, as in all others, but the Diploma gives real cause for optimism. I know it's a rare commodity in the current climate, but I am filled with optimism when I read the submissions of this year's Diploma graduates.
I graduated from business school in 1990 and started work in the US radio industry in the teeth of the last major media recession. It was only a decade later I realised that those weren't normal business conditions! In the same way, these graduates begin using their new skills at a tough time. Current conditions are unforgiving but they do foster change. The Diploma graduates will have the opportunity to shape their businesses and hone their skills in ways that just don't happen in boom times. They will be supremely equipped for the rest of their careers.
We all know that business is bad, but we know there will be a return to growth. However, it'll be different; it won't be a rerun of the 80s, 90s or noughties - it'll require fresh thinking and new approaches. It'll require change on a larger scale and, reading these submissions, this group of the industry's finest minds are just who we need.
Ad revenues are an early indicator of general market trends. Agencies have felt the pain first, but ought to be among the first to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We must work in partnership to bring advertisers more effective ways to see a return on their investment: previous recessions have shown those who advertise in tough times see the benefit. To bring that about, agencies need the right people, with the right technology, to run carefully targeted, measurable campaigns.
All this leads me back to optimism - we have all undoubtedly had to recalibrate our goals recently, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic in 2009. Here are three: first, business is still going down, but from what we can see, it's getting worse more slowly. That may change but, whether now or later, it's a necessary pre-condition for a return to growth.
Second, data used appropriately is a huge driver to improving our industry - read the analysis in the essay by Matt Sadler, winner of the President's Prize.
Third, initiatives like the IPA's Excellence Diploma mean that our industry will continue to attract and develop bright people.
When I read the graduates' essays, I am struck by the insight and hard work they demonstrate. With our industry attracting talent like this, we can all be optimistic.
- Henry Lawson, president, Donovan Data Systems.