Weekly Wrap: Andy Carolan, chairman, Tangible Group

Andy Carolan, chairman of Tangible Group discusses learning from the past and building for the future.

The green shoots of recovery may or may not be appearing during this downturn, but there is one thing of which we can be certain; business will sooner or later start to get better. I’m now experiencing the third recession of my working life and I hope this time around the marketing services industry can learn from the past by not repeating the self-administered problems endured in terms of building a future generation of quality people.

The last two decades have been largely good for marketing agencies; we have seen an increasing demand for our services, and top- and bottom-line performances of our successful businesses have reflected this. However, I believe that too many agencies have failed to recrui , retain and develop talent and this has led to problems for the industry when the good times returned. Simply put, there are too few good people around at middle level which means that when business comes out of the downcurve, it is difficult to enjoy the growth opportunities.

It is financially expedient to cut back on graduate trainee schemes and other initiatives that help generate new talent, but making those cuts serves to mortgage the future of all our businesses, as well as the quality of output that we strive to deliver.

I encourage agency owners and managers to

- include at least one graduate trainee place in your headcount for next year

- encourage and support the great work being done by the Institute of Direct Marketing, the DMA and the Marketing Society (who recognised one of our clients Kate Gilmore of Business Stream as Young Marketer of the Year last week ) in training our young people

- train new recruits, regardless of discipline and specialism, on the broad principles of marketing and communications . The delivery mechanisms may change and come in and out of fashion, but the principles remain the same

- don’t assume you can always poach better-trained people from other agencies just because you haven’t got around to developing your own (and guys, you know who you are)

One of George’s lesser known quotations is “History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren’t there”

I disagree; this problem has happened before. I witnessed it. And if we don’t take action now, we will indeed repeat the past.

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