The ICON/McLoughlinBall Accelerate Program offers a one-year post-graduate scholarship accredited by the Chartered Institute of Marketing in the UK. ICON’s UK affiliate, Professional Services Marketing Group (PSMG), has endorsed the programme, which is open to all people who are ICON members, or their firms are that work in a professional services firm regardless of professional background or position. This programme aims to accelerate your career, so it can be tailored to your experience and seniority.
Tell me about McLoughlinBall
McLoughlinBall recruits business developers, and marketing and communications people for law, accounting and other professional services firms at all levels. I worked for around 12 years as a business development and marketing director in the accounting sector, and I remember becoming frustrated when I was recruiting for my team. There were no specialist recruiters in the field at that time. There were the big recruiting firms and when I briefed them, they didn’t really understand the milieu and what type of person was required, so they kept sending me people who would have hated working in a partnership. It planted a seed in my head and I eventually decided to launch McLoughlinBall. I’ve been doing this now for 12 years and it’s really the best thing I’ve ever done. I do like helping people so that’
“There are people who have amazing degrees, but not in marketing. I hit upon the idea of offering that course for people who want more qualifications. They might be a lawyer who needs to do marketing, or an ambitious person who hasn’t got a graduate degree but who’s got the personality and smarts to work very successfully in this industry.”
What is the Accelerate Program?
Education has always been a big thing for me. I had an earlier scholarship programme with ICON [when it was the Asia-Pacific Professional Services Marketing Association], but I wanted to take it one step further. I know there are some people in professional services who don’t have a degree at all or other qualifications in marketing, so this course would be great for them. Or for people who want to have a refresher course … I’d love to do it actually, the last time I studied was in 2001!
There are people who have amazing degrees, but not in marketing. I hit upon the idea of offering that course for people who want more qualifications. They might be a lawyer who needs to do marketing, or an ambitious person who hasn’t got a graduate degree but who’s got the personality and smarts to work very successfully in this industry. It’s a very valuable course. The candidate for the programme can choose a diploma or certificate in professional services. It’s run by the Cambridge Marketing College and is endorsed by the PSMG, ICON’s equivalent in the UK.
Can you name some past winners?
Well the first winner was a woman called Lucy Rao, who works at Allen & Overy. She chose the innovation elective and really enjoyed it. She got a lot out of it. Carly Evans is the latest recipient, she’s a trained lawyer who is now in BD so this course is perfect for her.
“We look for somebody who is ambitious and wants to stay in the industry, someone who wants to further develop their career. You can tell that in the way they write.”
Are there any application requirements?
You don’t have to “qualify”. We ask candidates to answer three fundamental questions to give us a flavour of why they think the course will be great for them and their future career.
What differentiates the winners from other candidates?
We look for somebody who is ambitious and wants to stay in the industry, someone who wants to further develop their career. You can tell that in the way they write. Basically, that’s what we look for – someone who’s going to get a lot out of it.
How have past winners juggled working full time and studying?
In my mind, there’s no such thing as actual work–life balance. What, are we in a circus? No! I read a great article by Jeff Bezos [Amazon Chief Executive Officer], where he said, “life is like these intersecting circles”. That’s how I feel, life is like that now. There’s no putting your phone down and that is your home life. Things intersect with each other and certainly if you’re studying and working, you just do it. You don’t whine, you get on with it. I don’t mean it to sound harsh. I just think if you want to get anywhere in life, you’ve got to put in the effort. You know there’s a great saying, “luck happens when opportunity meets preparation”. And I absolutely love it when I see a candidate who is working and studying at the same time, it shows a dedication to their career and an ambition.
Has participating in this project changed the winners’ lives?
I think it’s just part of their journey. Just one small thing that they are adding to their arsenal of experience. It’s got to help them. It’s not going to hinder them. It’s going to open their minds, hopefully, give them some new ideas and be an asset to them going forward.
How has this project affected you, since you are heavily involved?
Coming up with an idea, seeing it working with ICON, seeing it reaching fruition and getting to that stage of giving the prize away makes my whole day. Once, a woman cried and it broke my heart with joy. She was so delighted. For me, this isn’t just sponsoring another event or a cocktail party. It’s helping give somebody something extra for their career.
What advice would you give to applicants?
Think about your answers very carefully. I would say, in life generally, be authentic. Think about where you are now, where you want to be and don’t be afraid to enunciate that in your responses to the questions. Make sure you tell your boss that you’re going for this, to profile yourself a little bit. Women are very bad at self-promotion. I meet incredible women and they’re a bit hesitant to promote themselves. Believe in yourself or fake it till you make it, to get what you need. Don’t worry much what anybody else thinks about you. Too many young women worry about what people think about them. Don’t do that. Remind yourself to be constantly aware of not worrying about what people think. Be yourself and don’t let anybody bully you.
“I would say, in life generally, be authentic. Think about where you are now, where you want to be and don’t be afraid to enunciate that in your responses to the questions. Make sure you tell your boss that you’re going for this, to profile yourself a little bit.”
Can you offer any tips for strengthening an application?
Speak to as many people you admire as possible to find out how they got to where they are. Try to distill what they say and apply it to yourself. Really express why you want to do this course and where you think it is going to take you. Blow your own trumpet, shine your own light. Promote yourself, but not in an arrogant way – easier said than done. It’s always hard and I meet some fabulous candidates, mostly young woman, and I give them advice and tell them “don’t withhold your gifts. Let the world see them”. I’d also say if you have applied before and didn’t get it, apply again. If you really want something in life, keep trying and eventually you’ll get it.
Visit the McLoughlinBall Accelerate Program web page for more information.
Past winner Carly Evans says the following about how the programme is helping her: