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Molly Thynne

Published on

October 14, 2021


agency life, culture, professional skills, RISE Academy

In September 2021, TEAM LEWIS launched its first RISE Academy program across UK, Germany, US and APAC. This marked the first installment of TEAM LEWIS’ refreshed approach to breaking down the barriers to diverse talent entering the industry.

In this interview, we sit down with EMEA & APAC VP of People, Jennifer Wu, and Chief of Staff, Sarah Robinson, to understand the motivations that led to the launch of the new RISE Academy initiative and what it means for the future of business recruitment.

What is the RISE Academy?

Jen: The RISE Academy is a new earn-while-you-learn program, which will run for about six months, focused on fast-tracking non-degree holders and career-switchers into a career in marketing. We are excited to launch this global program across all our regions because individuals are going to have the opportunity to learn skills and get hands-on experience across the whole marketing multiverse, as we like to call it. There is even the potential opportunity to secure a permanent role that best aligns with their strengths and passions at the end of the program.

What was the motivation behind RISE Academy?

Jen: Earlier this year, we ran our global research piece in partnership with HeForShe on Gen Z in the workplace. We found that, in 2020, a fifth of the global workforce was 15–24-year-olds. It was also found that diversity of thought and inclusion are top priorities for Gen Z in 2021. We listened to this research piece and understood that, for our own organization to thrive, we had to really tap into this upcoming generation and understand what they want from their workplace.

Sarah: Precisely. TEAM LEWIS is on a journey to becoming a truly integrated global marketing agency with creativity at the heart of it. We are trying to find that diversity of talent and thinking. We are looking for people with alternative perspectives to what we have already. We want to nurture this talent.

What kind of people were you looking to join RISE Academy?

Sarah: We launched RISE to give people the chance to take up any role in the company. To come in and try their hand at everything. It could be client servicing one day, animating the next, and videography the week after. RISE Academy is about bringing in people who have alternative backgrounds who are ready to apply themselves to any part of the business that takes their interest.

Jen: Ultimately, we really want individuals to thrive at TEAM LEWIS. It’s not about where you’re from or what you’ve done. More importantly, it’s about helping people reach their full potential in the world of PR and arketing.

What can the RISE recruits expect?

Jen: Training and academia are often very theory-based. The RISE Academy is focused on making sure individuals come in and learn best practices but also have the avenues to think creatively, freely and apply both approaches to real-life tasks and work. RISERs will be treated like any other TEAM LEWIS individual. Essentially, the RISE Academy will allow the individual to learn best practices whilst applying their own thinking and experiences to tasks.

Sarah: The other important thing about this experience is that the trainers aren’t always going to be the most senior people. The RISE Academy is a really good chance for our existing team to experience and learn what it’s like to be a trainer, going through the discipline of putting a training session together and how best to communicate and pass on knowledge. It is true that, by being a trainer, you learn as much as the people you are training. The RISE Academy is beneficial for everyone across the company.

What advice would you give to RISE recruits?

Jen: The great thing about this is that there is no legacy or pre-conceived idea of what the RISE end outcome will be. There is unlimited opportunity to make of it what you want. It’s all about your attitude and we will teach you the skills.

What do you hope the result of the RISE Academy will be?

Sarah: As excited as we are for our RISE recruits to learn with us, we are also excited to see what they can teach us. When anyone comes into an organization, you are going to learn something new from them. This is an opportunity to have several people join the company at one time, adding energy and exhilaration to the business as you gain those fresh perspectives.

What does the future of recruitment look like for TEAM LEWIS?

Jen: Since 2020, the market is candidate-driven. By this, I mean that we are seeing people actively changing careers, looking for jobs with more perceived stability, and more freelancers. From our perspective, this is an opportunity.  We have been forced to think more creatively, try the riskier ideas, initiatives, or solutions that we didn’t have to think about in the pre-COVID recruitment landscape. Overall, as an organization, we are going to grow from this.

Sarah: What I love about my job in recruitment is when you come across a candidate who doesn’t really fit anything you’ve got open but inspires you to think about what the possibilities for them at TEAM LEWIS could be and what they could do for us. What new skills or benefits could they bring to TEAM LEWIS? And I think we are doing just that with the RISE Academy. I think recruitment will continue to progress in this way and just become more and more open-minded.

Jen: So, I wouldn’t say we are changing our approach to recruitment. Instead, I would say we are evolving. Of course, we have always tried to look for the best person for the job, but now we aim to go deeper than the skillset. We’re considering personality, attitude, and transferable skills from a variety of backgrounds and thinking about how those could benefit us.

What benefits will RISE bring for TEAM LEWIS?

Jen: A consistent injection of new talent coming in will mean time and resources are freed up for existing team members to work on their own progression. Our hope is that RISE allows everyone to move forward and progress in their own careers more than ever before. All at TEAM LEWIS will have more opportunities to try various things because we have a great support team to execute work. We are hiring to give people the opportunity to grow across the business.

Sarah: It sets a really good example for our current team. It tells individuals who may have gone down one path already, that they can try a different path if they so desire. We have opened up the playing field. We want our teams to know that we encourage them to be open to new opportunities, decide what they want to do, and land where they want to land.

Thank you to Jen and Sarah for taking the time to sit down with us for this insightful Q&A.

Are you ready for a new direction? Click here to find out how you can apply your talents at RISE Academy and find a career in the marketing multiverse that interest you.

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