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Tributes pour in for IDM founder Professor Derek Holder


By The Drum Team, Editorial

February 17, 2012 | 4 min read

Leading figures from the direct marketing industry have paid tribute to Professor Derek Holder, founder of the Institute of Direct Marketing, who passed away this week.

Professor Holder was considered one of the most influential figures in the industry having founded the IDM Diploma in Direct Marketing, a qualification prized by those entering the business.

Heather Westgate, chief executive, TDA

The direct marketing industry lost one of its biggest stars this week.

Sadly, Professor Derek Holder, co-founder of the IDM and all-round champion of direct marketing, passed away on 14 February.

Anyone who knew Derek will agree that he was big in every sense of the word. He was a powerful and influential man who believed passionately in the importance of ongoing training and learning for all people, at all levels of the industry.

If I had to choose one word to describe Derek, it would be ‘tireless’. Nothing ever got in his way as he proceeded on his mission to enhance and improve the direct marketing industry through education. Continual professional development is taken for granted these days. When Derek co-founded the IDM almost 25 years ago it was a breakthrough notion, and the industry was fortunate to have such an advocate of learning in its midst.

An announcement from the IDM talks about his influence on the careers of ‘many, many individual practitioners’. I would take this one step further and say that each of us owes an immense debt of gratitude to Derek. His attitude and foresight played a significant role in developing the industry and making it the vibrant, dynamic profession it is today.

Perhaps Derek’s greatest talent was the way he connected with people. You couldn’t help but warm to him. And that is how he persuaded so many senior practitioners to make the time to share their experiences and insights with junior marketers. He was also a great believer in peer-group learning and hosted many dinners for industry heads to get together and share experiences.

Derek’s legacy to the industry is the IDM’s raft of training and events. But each of us should remember him, and take the time to continue what he started by giving something back, helping new marketers as they progress through the industry.

Derek’s death will be felt deeply by many of us. He will be greatly missed.

Chris Combemale, chief executive of the Direct Marketing Association

All of us at the DMA are deeply saddened to hear of Derek Holder’s passing. Derek was an inspirational leader of our industry who realised many years ago that the industry needed professional skills and talented people to achieve its potential.

He founded the IDM with a passionate commitment to academic rigour and professional excellence. In today’s world of modern marketing every marketer and every company have become practitioners of the skills Derek cared so much about. The DMA has collaborated closely with the IDM on many initiatives and has great respect for Derek’s contribution to our industry. Derek will be sorely missed.

Ian Stockley, managing director, Indicia

Derek Holder was an industry stalwart and one that will always be remembered for his passion and dedication. He was one of business’s rarities in that he managed to bridge the difficult divide between academia and actual coal-face experience.

Following a successful client-side career, he founded the IDM and built its reputation so that it became the world’s leading body for professional development and training in direct and interactive marketing. Many direct marketers have had their careers shaped by the IDM and the work Derek did to encourage young people into the industry is to be applauded.

When a figurehead passes away they leave behind an unfillable gap, but it is up to us to build on his legacy.

Charles Ping, strategy director, Communisis

As a former DMA chairman I appreciate more than many the immense contribution Derek made to standards, skills and education with direct and digital marketing.

The industry as we know it today wouldn't exist without Derek. He was always pushing the industry forward with educational initiatives to meet future needs. A fitting tribute would be to ensure that this continues.


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