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Tomorrow is graduation day for students at the VCU Brandcenter. One hundred of them will stride down the aisle as their name is called. They’ll take their diplomas and walk past a gauntlet of faculty, stopping to shake hands, hug and sometimes cry.
Brandcenter students will be surrounded by the truly important people in their lives. Fathers and mothers, sisters, brothers, friends and lovers. People who care about them. People who know the greatness and goodness they are capable of.
The Brandcenter faculty in the front of the room can be counted among these well-wishers. They’ve spent years sharing everything they know and demanding everything our students can give.
Like the families and friends in the audience, our professors have become important people to the students. In my years at the Brandcenter I’ve watched our faculty give their best for each student. A part of every day is spent out of sight of the students, conferring about their strengths, weaknesses, triumphs and tragedies. Our faculty talk about how to renew the energy of those who’ve become weary, how to inspire the uninspired, how to deliver worthy challenges and worthwhile critiques.
For Brandcenter faculty, there are few things more rewarding than seeing our students walk across that stage, confident in their abilities and well on their way to successful careers. So if you’re attending the graduation ceremony, take a moment to greet the faculty and staff behind the Brandcenter’s important work.
VCU Brandcenter’s full time professors. (click to enlarge)
Don Just is back on the cover of the Business Section. The VCU Brandcenter professor looks quite comfortable on the business pages in his in a crisp sport coat and starched white shirt. Don started his career in banking, back when bankers were conservative with their money and their politics. Mid-career, he unexpectedly left his post as a leader of one of the most respected banks in the region and passed on a job as president of Circuit City to join an emerging ad firm, The Martin Agency.
Don’s move must have seemed reckless at the time, but today we might think of him as prescient, since both the bank (which became Wachovia) and Circuit City are no more and The Martin Agency is thriving. Fortunately for students, Don Just left the agency after helping grow it to a nationally respected firm. He has become a fixture at the VCU Brandcenter, where he teaches students the business of advertising and creative brand management.
Here’s the article by Louis LLovio of the Richmond Times Dispatch: http://www2.timesdispatch.com/rtd/business/local/metrobusiness/article/COVR21_20091220-180402/312661/
There was a time when advertising account managers were sales people. They had firm handshakes, wore crisp suits and boasted low handicaps. They were great company of course – it was their job. They had a knack for knowing the best restaurant and trendiest tavern in any city, and they always picked up the tab. They were the most powerful people in an agency because they owned the accounts. So much so that when they left the agency, the client would often follow.
That was a long time ago, and now the account manger’s role is less clear. Planners, brand strategists and creative directors often have more input into strategy than account managers, who are left to organize projects and act as go-betweens.
At a time when our entire industry is being redefined, few have bothered to redefine the role of the account manager.
This was the subject of a conversation I had about a year ago with the 4As new leader, Nancy Hill along with VCU Brandcenter Director, Rick Boyko, and colleagues, Don Just and Caley Cantrell. Nancy challenged us to develop a graduate-level program that would train the catalysts for a new era of account leadership. She asked us to develop leaders who understood brands, embraced new ways to engage consumers and who would never cede their seat at the strategic table.
We spent a year working with industry leaders, agency owners, digital experts, CMOs, CEOs, and CCOs. We spoke with agencies like Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Publicis, The Martin Agency, McCann and Ogilvy. We built a 5-day program that will shape in the careers of a handful of account leaders. The program begins on June 5th and those who are able to attend will emerge stronger, more confident leaders. The kind of leaders who win new business, grow accounts and establish trust among clients and colleagues.
At the time I’m writing this there are still a few seats available. If you or someone you know would benefit from attending, I encourage you to drop everything and follow the links below for more information or contact our program coordinator Megan Clifton at 804 828-8384.