Tackling the industry's 'T'eething troubles
Malaysia - The country's evolving and rather complex marketing landscape has forced agencies to take a second look at two critical elements - training and talent retention - with the entire fraternity abuzz.
There's a consensus amongst industry's senior professionals that with the right kind of training, both goals are easily achievable.
A+M spoke to senior folk to uncover the strategies in play in addressing these challenges.
"One of the biggest issues the industry faces collectively is talent, more specifically the dearth of talent. What we have is a high-sensitive and competitive market whereby everyone wants to come into our space but then again, it's one of the realities of doing business," Dato' Rishya Joseph, group CEO at People ‘N Rich, said.
Offering insight on what the agency's response is to the dilemma, he added the company has taken on a fresh mandate which is ‘training to retain'.
Having recently come on board as local lead, Joseph has since introduced a brand new programme alongside founder Richard Steven called "The Mentor Series" where top professionals from various industries are invited to conduct sessions on how to be accountable towards business growth and break away from the mold in order to provide effective client solutions.
Infusing creativity back into the business is another objective of the training programme.
"I'm not talking about winning creative awards while that is a vital component to any agency. Training equals understanding where the consumer is going to and why we're losing touch with him," he added.
Another agency dedicated to investing heavily when it comes to raising talent to be exceptional leaders via a similar platform is Naga DDB. It recently rebranded its training programme of ten years called DDBU (University) to DDBU Foundation, aimed at junior to mid-level employees from various disciplines across the group.
An annual affair running for slightly over three months at a time, it packs a curriculum of 14 modules put together by strategic brand planning director, Tai Kam Leong and houses about 30 participants each year.
"With all these new media, touch-points and digital landscape stuff going on, it's really very messy because people don't know how to handle them just yet. It's precisely why training is most critical for the advertising communications industry," Tai explained.
He refers to the agency-sponsored programme as intensive and elaborate although expensive wherein the cost per head is RM 20,000. However, for the Foetus-owned network price is no major concern because its ultimate reward is a high talent retention rate and competent team.
On a similar note, there has been much talk about local creative talent being more likely to look for opportunities overseas because of the better pay prospects. OMD managing director, Andreas Vogiatzakis tendered his two-cent piece on the subject saying talent and creativity in Malaysia are of high quality, citing the recent Cannes results as evidence of this.
Although 2011 garnered impressive results, he shared that as the talent pool grows and the market finds it tough to accommodate, people would look overseas for other, if not better options.
"So, we need to intensify our efforts, retain our talent, and get more regional projects managed locally in order to make Malaysia a regional hub," he said.
Throughout the years, Omnicom Media Group has held extensive training programmes but in 2010 it moved to consolidate all such initiatives under one umbrella via a formalised format dubbed U@OMG. The programme caters to participants at various levels across multiple disciplines for companies OMD and PHD.
Aegis Media executive chairman Margaret Lim suggested that while monetary reward and recognition is certainly important, it isn't the only factor that matters in today's space where the culture tends to lean toward a more collaborative orientation.
"Now, we speak of our team as colleagues rather than subordinates. I believe a happy environment is probably the most important element and to create one, we need to give recognition, foster strong teamwork, motivation, and win awards," Lim said.
The agency's runs a year-long training exercise called the Malaysia Aegis Media Academy (MAMA) which was formally launched in February 2011. It was designed to fulfill the training requirements of the group's senior, middle, and junior level employees.
The programme is managed by a group of senior people from its various brands - Posterscope, Carat, Vizeum, iProspect, and IF Isobar. However, external trainers are also engaged for a number of specialised topics.
Taking on a different approach, the GroupM Media Foundation (GMF) programme runs for more than 18 weeks to train entry-level employees, starting off with the basics of media before moving on to various other specialised areas. The sessions are conducted one day in a week to help staff apply what they have learnt at work.
According to local leader Girish Menon, GMF was established a few years back. "We give our best in terms of training, remuneration and work environment to our people. We recognise this increases the market value of our talent and makes them ripe for poaching," he said.
"But as the largest agency in the country, we cannot shy away from our responsibilities to train the talent of the future, even if it means we are going to lose some of them to competition or clients or media owners."
Commenting on the local talent pool, Menon feels Malaysian university students aren't really aware of the opportunities which lie in wait in the industry.
"The interaction level between universities and the industry is limited and at best is driven by individual interest rather than being institutionalised into the system," Menon said. But there is hope on the horizon according to Menon who added most of the skill sets required to be successful in the marketing industry can be learned easily.
"We are not practising rocket science. We just need people who have common sense, good communication skills and a positive attitude which recognises that one never stops learning and that one should always hold oneself accountable. It sounds simple, but it seems to be difficult to find talent who have all the above."
Although a simple notion, training remains to date a hefty investment but in the words of a senior industry professional from Naga DDB Hong Kong: "Wouldn't it be worse if you didn't train him and he stayed?
Have you joined the campaign for free content?
Subscribe to Marketing and marketing-interactive for FREE:
Breaking news and intelligent analysis. Always free.
- Aegis Media
- Naga DDB
- People N Rich
Aegis Media Related Stories:
- Burberry taps Aegis to drive global media
- Aegis takes ownership of WonderAd China
- Dentsu launches Dentsu Aegis Network
- iProspect bolsters APAC team
- Vizeum bags RMB500 million media account
- Roy Tan now MD of IF Isobar
- Aegis Media appoints chief innovation officer
- Aegis promotes Crook to digital lead
- Aegis Media launches social media unit
- Aegis Media names print general manager
- iProspect names China MD
- Aegis Media ups local presence
- Dentsu bags tourism media duties
- Columbus appoints Tos as national MD
- Aegis' hiring spree continues
- Aegis boosts OOH agency leadership
- Aegis to acquire Chinese digital shop
- Dentsu-Aegis: Deal of the decade?
- Aegis hires, TransAsia engages Facebook fans
- iProspect launches paid search audit offering