Last Thursday (17th November) I was proud to have been nominated alongside some fantastic people at the JCI Manchester Young Talent Awards (MYTAs) 2016 in the Digital, Media or Creative Professional of the Year category.
Unfortunately I didn't win this one (congratulations Rachel), but being a finalist will do just fine - it was a total surprise to be shortlisted in the first place and I'm really grateful to my team for putting me forward. It's been such a pleasure working alongside everyone here at I-COM in my new(ish) role as head of digital marketing and I'm looking forward to doing some more amazing things together over the coming years. But I'm aware this is starting to sound like I am reciting the speech I had prepared if I had won (I didn't write one, alright?) so I'll stop the gushing.
Anyway, we didn't let my complete and utter failure ruin the night and we had an absolute ball (which is why I'm only able to write this today, not last Friday as I'd originally planned). I've added some photos to the bottom of this post if you're interested in what we got up to. Here's a preview:
The real point of this post
What I really wanted to talk about was the overarching theme of the MYTAs - young talent in Manchester. And it's clear from last week's awards ceremony that we have it in abundance.
I'm lucky enough to work every day alongside a mix of youth and experience (it's becoming depressingly less clear which category I fall under, even in spite of being young enough for the MYTAs), but I-COM certainly feels like a place where you can come and develop as a young person in the digital industry whether you're a graduate, non-graduate - whatever. We have people in management positions, myself included, who have been with us since their early 20s (JOKE ALERT: and since the early '20s! LOL @Mike Blackburn), while we also have important members of the team who have stayed with us since first working here as an intern at uni.
Speaking of uni, I also help to manage I-COM's Agency Life programme, in which second-year marketing and PR students from MMU spend one day a week at an agency. We've been doing this now since 2012 and it's fantastic... apart from the year we decided to take on about 30 students at once - that was total chaos. It gives students those much-needed practical skills to go with their theoretical background and hopefully helps to show them that an agency, with all its work and the noise and clients and colleagues and fun and unpredictability and innovation and creativity, is the place to be.
I also recently went to meet graduates and graduates-to-be at the MMU Digital Employer Networking Cafe and talk about careers in the digital industry. Accompanied by our head of project management Mark Webster, I was struck by how much more switched on they are than I ever was at that age. Millennials often get a bad rep but those I have come across recently have portfolios, they juggle two jobs, they have CVs longer than mine, they have volunteered, they have travelled, they are confident, they are good communicators and they know what they want for themselves. All the signs are good for the future of the digital industry in Manchester.
So let's keep them here. Manchester businesses: let's have faith in youth, let's meet the graduates coming out of the local universities, let’s get to know the lecturers of our subjects at those institutions, let's offer more internship programmes, let's create more educational resources for those on the first rung of the career ladder. Let's keep them here and ensure our businesses and events like the MYTAs continue to grow year after year.