2013-14 Season: Chair – Mhairi McEwan

From technology and telecoms to politics and pharmaceuticals – it’s been another compelling and enjoyable season for the Marketing Group of Great Britain.

This season, our guest speakers have taken us to the worlds of technology, telecoms, the media, politics, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and even choral singing!

The Marketing Group of Great Britain brings together a wide and varied cross-section of today’s marketing leaders – influential individuals drawn from the senior client community, agencies, consultancies, industry organisations and educational institutions who are making a significant contribution to the shape and direction of our industry. Together with our guests we meet to hear from a wide range of guest speakers of the highest calibre. I hope this season lived up to that premise.

We started our season with Dr Mike Lynch OBE, the founder of software company Autonomy on the future of big data and technology. Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, spoke to us about the significant challenges his industry and business is facing, and his strategy for tackling them. And Stuart Fletcher, CEO of BUPA and Ronan Dunne, CEO of Telefonica, O2 – two heavyweights of the business world shared their insights on leadership and the challenges brands face in this ever changing, increasingly digital, mobile world.

Gareth Malone OBE celebrity choirmaster and BBC star hosted our hugely enjoyable – and highly melodic – Christmas charity dinner together with the wonderful children and staff at ICAN, the children’s communications charity.

Then in the New Year, Sarah Sands, the editor of the London Evening Standard, painted an entertaining and informative picture of the challenges in building a media brand and the role media brands play. And we were thrilled to hear the story of the founding of dunnhumby from Clive Humby and Edwina Dunn – their first ever public speaking engagement together!

John McFarlane OBE, chairman of Aviva, gave us a masterclass in the principles of turnarounds, financial management and growth. And, adding something a little different, was John Lovering, whose extraordinary career as a serial Private Equity chairman gave him plenty of stories and insight about that sector and the British retail industry.

We enjoyed an informal ‘members only’ lunch in May in the buzzing venue of Shoreditch House with Magic FM breakfast show host Neil Fox interviewing music manager Craig Logan. And we rounded off our season with a ‘touch of ermine’ joined by newspaper editor turned Conservative peer in the House of Lords, Baroness Wheatcroft.

This season has also seen us reflect on ourselves, with Eleanor Coates helping us to conduct the first research the club has done into members’ needs, wants and aspirations in over 10 years. As a result we’ve been able to take a fresh look at our membership, our purpose, and our vision for the next 10 years – we are marketers after all!

It was reassuring to hear from our members’ survey that the club serves them well. We are, however, making a few important changes – including broadening the digital expertise within the membership, and founding an Emeritus Group for those whose careers have evolved beyond a focus on the UK marketing sphere yet still have considerable experience and insight to share. Phil Smith will represent the group on Council as Emeritus Chair 2014-15. We also redesigned and relaunched this MGGB website and, as all good marketers do, refreshed our logo!

So a huge thank you to all the members of Council this year for their hard work and contributions to the running of the club – largely on top of busy day jobs – Andria Vidler (Chair elect), Sue Farr (Membership Secretary), Nick Smith (Treasurer), Phil Smith, Robert Senior, David Pemsel, Louise Wilson and to all the past chairs who have been so supportive at different stages in the year. And of course, huge thanks to Clare Russell for her brilliant administration of the group.

Next season’s Chair, Andria Vidler, CEO of Centaur Media, has been closely involved in all this work, and I look forward to supporting her and Council as the club continues to develop while remaining true to its fine traditions and prestigious history.

It has been a great pleasure – and honour – to be this season’s Chair.

Mhairi McEwan
CEO and Co-founder, Brand Learning
Chair, Marketing Group of Great Britain, 2013-14