On Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th June, I headed over to McCann’s head office in Prestbury for the School of Thought weekend. Jam-packed with inspiring speakers and workshops, the School of Thought programme is all about developing skills, whether you’re a creative or an account handler.

As someone who hasn’t been working in agency world all that long, the School of Thought weekend was the perfect opportunity for me to get chin-wagging with some faces from the industry. Over the weekend, five speakers revealed all about the good, the bad and the downright ugly within their industry experiences, along with tonnes of advice.

Liz Bielinska – Finding that killer insight


Planner and trainer, Liz Bielinska, talked us through how using insight can make all the difference when approaching a campaign. Just a couple of her top tips included how you can tell when you’ve got your hands on an insight gem. And that you’ve got an abundance of useful insights at your fingertips with just the opinions from people around you.

Lizzie Palmer – What clients want and how to impress


Working client-side for years, Lizzie Palmer let us in on a few tips on how to make a lasting impression with clients. Along with tales from her time in the industry, she delved into different personality types and how to know which one you are, as well as the best way to deal with objections to work.

Liz Bielenska, School of Thought

Caroline Pankhurst – Resilience and managing pressure


Stressful stints pop up in any industry and Caroline Pankhurst specialises in helping people know what to do in those moments when it all gets a bit too much. She made us think about our biggest fear in our job, challenge why we fear that particular thing and then think about how we can approach it more positively.

Katie Coombes – Working as a team with client services people


Being in a team that get along with one another and understand how to work together is key. Katie Coombes’ session was filled with witty anecdotes about her time as an account manager, along with exercises that looked into what makes a good or a bad creative or account handler. Luckily, we were a pleasant bunch, so things didn’t get too personal…

Rick Kiesewetter – Pitching, presenting and storytelling


If there’s anything that gets you out of your comfort zone, it’s standing up in front of 17 new faces and talking for three minutes about a topic they chose for you. And that’s just what Rick Kiesewetter got us all doing. With 20 years under his Creative Director belt and an experienced stand-up comedian, he was full of advice on how to show passion and confidence when presenting.

Rick Kiesewetter, School of Thought

For anyone thinking of signing up to the next School of Thought weekend, I’d wholeheartedly recommend it. Not only are you treated to some wonderful advice from industry-experts, as well as a whole load of food, but you’ll leave knowing a few more likeminded, lovely people.

By Melissa McPhillips

Copywriter