CMA partners with RBC to offer young marketers career guidance

The Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) has partnered with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) on a new program aimed at better preparing post-secondary students for a career in marketing.

A beta version of “CMA NXT” will launch this fall, with a full rollout taking place in 2020. The goal, says CMA president and CEO John Wiltshire, is for the free program to have a “dramatic effect” on the quality of Canadian marketing by helping students be better prepared to enter the workforce and deal with early career challenges.

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“If you were to ask senior marketing professionals in Canada what are the things that keep them up at night, marketing talent always rises to the top,” says Wiltshire.

A greater understanding of the marketing profession and improved soft skills are also among employers’ key wishes, he says.

“RBC is delighted to be the founding lead sponsor of CMA NXT because it will help so many young people grow their professional networks, gain critical skills that are often not taught, and showcase their abilities to prospective employers,” said Alan Depencier, chief marketing officer, personal and commercial banking and insurance at RBC.

CMA NXT is built around several modules: An overview of marketing roles within an organization; how to develop a professional profile and prepare for job interviews; insights into emerging technologies and professional trends and their impact on the future of marketing, and developing communications and other soft skills.

The ways in which students interact with the various components during the beta test will enable the CMA to refine the program to ensure it’s best tailored to their specific needs, says Wiltshire.

CMA NXT will use a combination of video modules and in-person interactions with CEOs, Chartered Marketers (CMs) and other marketing thought-leaders within the free program.

“We have a lot of great contributors sitting on our councils and great member relationships with some of the best marketing departments across Canada,” says Wiltshire. “We will source a lot of our content through those relationships.”

A recent study from McKinsey & Company found that only 44% of youth—and 34% of employers—feel they are fully prepared for work upon graduation. According to Adler Group, as many as 85% of all jobs are filled via networking, yet many younger people feel ill-equipped to develop professional relationships.

“In the long run, success means making a difference—not just for companies that employ marketers, but also in the success of individual students,” says Wiltshire. “We would like to draw more and more talented people into marketing careers, and we think that providing a better view about what that career that might look like will help.”

RBC’s investment aligns with its “Future Launch” program aimed at ensuring that Canadian youth is prepared for the workplace of tomorrow. “The benefits and outcomes of participating in CMA NXT align with our RBC Future Launch commitment—preparing the youth of today for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Depencier. RBC has committed to supporting CMA NXT for four years.

RBC is not directly involved with operating the program, but was involved in the program’s ideation and will provide what Wiltshire describes as “high-level advice.”

The CMA will track the sign-ups, how long people stay with programs and returning students to determine the program’s efficacy, says Wiltshire. It has also created a student advisory committee to provide what he calls “ongoing input” as the program continues.

Students will also be given an opportunity to complete optional assignments and projects developed by CMA member companies, which can be used in their portfolio and serve to demonstrate their skills and knowledge.

The CMA hopes to use program participants and other “brand ambassadors” to raise on-campus awareness of CMA NXT. “We’ll be looking at working through the student population in order to ensure the program’s credibility,” says Wiltshire.


Chris Powell