Reflections from a School of Thought tutor

“It’s important for the creative industry to look after its own talent… industry leaders and professionals should be nurturing their own”

School of Thought is now heading into its fourth week – a third of the way through! Having heard from Alice – a student of the course – about her experiences so far, we wanted to hear from the other side, that being the industry professionals who have dedicated their time to tutoring the part-time course.

We spoke to James Cross, Creative Group Head of McCann Manchester, who took time out of his busy schedule to tutor the students during their second week of the course. Find out more about his motivations for volunteering for School of Thought and the impact he believes it could have on the industry.

What initially motivated you to take part in School of Thought?

Originally invited to join in with the course by David Campbell – Creative Director of SLG Marketing and founder of School of Thought – James believes that it’s important for the creative industry to look after its own talent. He explained how there is a lot of expectancy for universities and their courses to provide a certain level of talent, however he argued that industry leaders and professionals should be “nurturing their own” and doing this themselves.

School of Thought is a unique offering from the creative industry, in which aspiring individuals looking to develop their creative skills can do so, with the help of those who have built a career for themselves. That being said, James sees the course as a fantastic initiative, where junior creatives can be nurtured by the industry itself, and that can only be a positive thing.

What are your thoughts on the work produced by the students?

According to James, there was a definite variation in the levels of work produced by the students. While some came back with “obvious answers to the brief”, others he saw as “raw, unpolished diamonds”. The tutor even went as far as to say that some of the students presented “client buyable work” that he would happily take to pitches, confident that it could win business.

“The work at the moment is very up and down, with students showing strength in some aspects, but being a little weaker in others.”

Will you and McCann as an agency benefit from School of Thought? What have you learnt from it?

Having seen some of the work from the School of Thought students, James believes that the advertising industry as a whole will absolutely benefit from the course. He even went as far as to say that some of the work that was presented to him had left him considering offering work experience at the very least, by the time it comes to the “graduation”.

Did you receive any feedback from the students?

James saw a strong eagerness to learn from the students, with his advice and suggestions exuding from the work they created. “People really want it and that could be seen from their disappointment when they were given feedback that wasn’t quite what they wanted. It showed they were taking the course seriously.”

Would you do it again, and would you recommend School of Thought to other businesses and students to take part in?

The feedback we received from James about School of Thought was incredible. He believes that candidates are struggling and don’t understand they best ways of getting into the industry, but will the help of courses like School of Thought, the process could be made much more simple for them.

“I would love to take part in School of Thought again – I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t an annual thing. Having worked in Birmingham in the past, I think they are desperate for something like School of Thought. It’s vital, especially after the recession.” Who knows, maybe School of Thought could branch out in the future!

We’d like to say a huge thank you to James, for taking the time to talk to us about what is setting out to be a brilliant addition to the creative industry. Whether you’re a potential student looking to develop your creative skills, or a business interested in getting involved, you can find out more about School of Thought on the website, or if you’d prefer, get in touch with us and we can provide you with plenty of information.



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