IPA Diploma: Introduction

"Confidence", "depth", "authority", "credibility", "perspective", and "professional".

These are just some of the words used in feedback when delegates were asked: "Using one word, express the overall benefit you have derived from the IPA Excellence Diploma."

The Diploma emerged from Stephen Woodford's 2003 presidential agenda of raising the professional standards within the industry. It is the highest level IPA qualification and, as one delegate put it, "The IPA Excellence Diploma is the first MBA for brands". Its objective is to equip a new generation (across all disciplines and with four or more years' experience) with the key shared texts, theories, learning and case histories on brands and brand communications.

The programme consists of six modules of reading. At the end of each module, delegates are asked to write a "think piece" incorporating a personal perspective. Then, at the end of the year, they are asked to submit a 5,000- to 7,000-word essay on the future of brands, brand communications or communication agencies.

These pieces are marked by a team of experienced examiners (pictured) for original points of view, application, clarity and presentation, and referenced support of argument.

The three essays showcased here are those that achieved "Distinctions" in the eyes of these examiners. The Diploma also seeks to stimulate individuals to use the reading as "sounding boards" from which to develop their own personal visions of how brands are changing. These pieces represent how far they have come in achieving that vision.

And their feedback to this challenge is again positive.

"Inspiring", "catalytic", "exciting" and "re-energising" are also words chosen to describe the Diploma. That last word is the most encouraging. It seems that one of the special benefits of the Diploma is that it re-engages people with what they love about their jobs. The joy and excitement of developing their own thinking and ideas. So it is fitting that this year's President's Prize winning essay is about the new kind of ideas we can create in the modern media world.

After all, ideas are us. They are what we sell, they are what we offer that our consultancy competitors can't hope to copy, and they are what makes our industry so enjoyable.

So, myself and the IPA Excellence Diploma team are immensely proud to have received feedback that tells us we helped our delegates re-engage with their own ideas. As one of last year's delegates commented: "I feel more confident and enjoy my job even more. I love advertising."

We hope that reading these essays makes you feel the same as the people who wrote them.

- Nick Kendall, chair of the examiners and group strategy director at Bartle Bogle Hegarty


Peter Field - Marketing consultant

Stephen Woodford - Chairman and chief executive,DDB London

Richard Hytner - Deputy chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide

Chris Forrest - Director, The Nursery Research and Planning

Ann Murray - Chatterton Director of professional development, IPA

Martin Runnacles - Managing director, Ultegra Consulting

Nick Kendall - Group strategy director, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Moray MacLennan - Chairman Europe, M&C Saatchi

Tony Regan - Head of planning, Initiative

Frances Illingworth - Global recruitment director, WPP

Will Collin - Group founding partner, Naked Communications

Hamish Pringle - Director general, IPA

Gerry Moira - Chairman and director of creativity, Euro RSCG London

Jonathan Taylor - Head of marcoms, London Metropolitan University, and chairman, Visionpoint.