Incubator Celebrates 5th Anniversary

UK Incubator program

Summer 2019 saw VMLY&R Commerce (at the time operating as Geometry) step up to a major challenge: how to make the creative industry more accessible to 16–18-year-olds – with live and practical experiences.

And the Incubator hatched!

This unique work experience program created in the UK quickly expanded across VMLY&R London, has exported to the US, and is set to launch in a number of EMEA markets. Sixty students from diverse backgrounds have “graduated”, landing business scholarships and packing their CVs with live agency pitch experience curated from a raft of “money can’t buy” training modules.

Debbie Ellison, global chief digital officer VMLY&R Commerce and Elke van Tienen, global head of people VMLY&R Commerce are co-creators and champions behind the Incubator.

Debbie explained, “From the very start, our aim has been to offer young students a unique work experience programme with access to the most senior talent in our business, including our C-suite. To our delight we are actively engaging with ethnically diverse students and championing social mobility too.”

The two-week summer programme looks like this:

Live insight on how to create Connected Brand experiences, through BX, CX and Creative Commerce - designed to unlock a range of career paths within the advertising industry

One-to-one sessions with senior leaders including chief executive officer, chief operations officer, chief digital officer, chief strategy officer, chief experience officer, head of commerce, head of innovation

An opportunity to work on a real-life client brief, as part of a mini agency, and pitch to senior leadership

Kate Scott, UK people director, explained, “The experience is practical, including sessions on how to run a business to how to develop an award-winning creative strategy. And it’s designed to equip people with key skills - including winning presentations to public speaking. To inspire further, external entrepreneurial speakers and leaders join us, and visits to Hult Business School are part of the course.”

Powerful partnerships continue to grow, helping the agency engage with students from under-represented backgrounds. Today, these include Speakers for School and Hult Business School. Incubator students are offered up two big opportunities: the Hult Entrepreneurial Spirit Award – a £10,000 contribution towards Hult’s Bachelor of Business Administration, and fast track interviews for the Hult Scholar Grant.

Abigail Westfield, UK equity, inclusion & belonging manager, said, “The Incubator is a fabulous gateway into our industry with wonderful feedback from students, previously unaware of what our business has to offer and now keen to jump in.”

Debbie concluded, “We are so very proud of the real and deep impact of The Incubator programme. We recognise the value-add our most senior leaders make to the programme and we hope to scale this initiative across more markets globally year on year.”