Outside Insight: Debbie Morrison of ISBA on globalisation and recruiting the right people


Recruiting the right talent and dealing with globalisation are two of the biggest challenges facing the industry. As part of our Outside Insight series, we asked Debbie Morrison, Director of Consultancy and Best Practice at ISBA, for her views on these tricky issues...

Debbie Morrison globalisation recruitment

How is globalisation changing the way we work as an industry?

I’ve been at ISBA for 26 years and when I first joined I only worked with the UK branches of multinationals. What I’ve seen over that time is people’s roles expanding and becoming more international. There’s definitely a trend towards globalisation.

However in all our research amongst clients, international type agreements are the most complained about. Local people locked into global agreements tend to be the unhappy ones.

Internationalised business does make sense for clients in terms of scale. But I don’t know quite how you remedy the issue of people being unhappy on the ground, they need to find ways to optimize relationships within the boundaries of global agreements.

Are we doing enough to recruit the right kind of people into the industry?

I was in New York last year to see all the network chiefs and all of them have talked about bringing in talent from other areas outside the communications world. I think the business is starting to change. Clients are frustrated with some of their agency relationships, particularly around content development. The hottest trade for clients this year has been in journalistic talent, bringing in people with editorial skills to work in a more editorial way and drive real time communications.

Clients are questioning the roles of their teams in this fast evolving marketing environment, are they analytical enough, what is a marketing manager? What does a brand manager do? What new talent do they need to bring in to operate in a real time marketing world?

They tell me marcoms are so complex now that they need people with project management skills, people who can interpret and extract insights from data. Agencies too need people with hot project management skills. When I spoke with an agency the other week they were looking for people with content experience, an agile, editorial, journalistic way of looking at the world. I think that’s got to be the way forward – these are real trends they are not going away. I think the whole industry is at this tipping point of massive change, which makes it so interesting.

The marcoms world has come a long way from when I started in the business 30 years ago, it has become much more complex. The only certainty for the future is more change. These are very interesting times. We’ve got to look everywhere for talent.

Perhaps the new talent needs are about attitudes rather than qualifications. We’ve got all these digital natives coming through who don’t even see any lines between advertising and editorial, on or offline. It’s most likely that new talent will be coming from outside the traditional areas. Anyone who has the skills to create simplicity out of the complex marcoms world will be hot property!

Debbie Morrison globalisation recruitment
^Back to Top