First among equals

Vicki Crosby, former account manager at Brand Addition and now Fluid Branding Sales Director North West is the first person in the industry to pass the Master in Promotional Merchandise (MPM) level of the bpma education programme.

MPM is the highest of the three courses offered in the education programme and is suitable for those with five years or more industry experience. Vicki shared her experiences with Product Media.

Q: Why did you sign up to MPM?

There are a couple of reasons. I had studied the very first bpma Academy qualification several years ago, so when I heard that a number of new qualifications had been launched I wanted to be part of the education development. I have always enjoyed studying, particularly if it can aid my own personal growth. Secondly, and more importantly, I think it is vital that our industry is perceived as being professional. I work alongside many design and event agencies that are ‘qualified’ in their industry, so
I feel it is imperative that our customers see us in the same light.

Q: How long did it take you to study?

As I’ve been in the industry for 20 years, I was able to start at the highest level which requires 500 credits before the exam can be taken. It took on average 1 ½ hours each week over an 18-month period to build up enough points to be able to take the exam, at which point I spent several hours revising over a three-week period. The written assessment was then completed over six months.

Q: How did you discipline yourself to study?

Some weeks were easier than others. I found it worked best for me to sit with my daughter while she did her homework so we were studying together. It was vital for the written assessment that I set time aside each week to carry out research. My subject was how technology has changed the industry over the past 20 years and my problem was that it was continuing to change while I was writing, so it was important to set myself a completion date, to not only give me something to aim for but to ensure that the content I was writing was still relevant at the time of submission.

Q: What subjects interested  you the most?

I had no or little exposure to certain elements of the course, so while they seemed daunting at first, these became the most interesting overall. In particular, ethics and product compliance are hot topics so it was perfect timing to learn about these subjects and I have been able to apply my knowledge already.

Q: What support did you get?

Daniela was a great help, particularly towards the end. I spoke to industry experts about their experiences – Matt Pluckrose is the font of knowledge when it comes to technology products so he was a fantastic help.

Q: Why did you choose technology as a subject?

I wanted to write about something which affects everyone in our industry. There have been huge changes across all aspects of what we do, and we can be forgiven for taking this for granted. It was surprising, when examined in detail, how significant the changes are.

Q: What did you learn during the course and exam process? 

There are continually new things to learn. However, I was actually surprised at how much I didn’t know before, that I do now.

Q: Would you do anything differently?

The subject I chose to write about covered far too many areas and in hindsight I should have narrowed this down.

Q: Did you enjoy the course?

When studying there are always some subjects that are easier than others, but I felt the course challenged me and taught me a lot so it was certainly worth doing and I did enjoy it.

Q: Would you recommend the education programme for industry peers?

Absolutely. I think it is really important that as an industry, we raise our standards where possible and show ourselves in the best possible light as a group of professionals. We should do this for ourselves and for the clients we support.

Q: What advice can you give the current MPM learners who are preparing for exams?

It is really important to take the time to read the associated documents. There is a lot of extra information in these sections. Take time to read again the things which don’t make sense first time around. It’s easy to rush through in the aim of building up the credits.

Q: How did you feel when receiving the results?

Relieved! Sitting the exam was a little nerve racking but not as much as presenting my written document.  It was fantastic to know I’d passed and I was the first MPM ever!

Q: Was it worth it?

A lot of work went in, but it was all worth it to know I had passed. I couldn’t be prouder to know I am the first in the industry and hopefully many more will follow.

Daniela Arena, bpma’s professional development manager congratulated Vicki on her achievement.

“Vicki has worked so hard over 18 months to achieve 500 credits and work towards the written submission,” she said. “It was a pleasure to work with her and support her with the exam and written submission. We have many working on their written submissions and hope to congratulate more MPM achievers later in the year. We currently have 155 learners on the programme across the TPM, CPM and MPM levels and know that 2016 will see many exam successes.”

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