In a piece first published in PSMG’s Centrum magazine, Totum BD & Marketing Consultants’ Joanna Milne and Lara Mitchard report on Totum’s Rising Star Award and what it has taught us about today’s business development and marketing functions.
Earlier this year, Totum was delighted to launch its inaugural Rising Star Award. It was devised to celebrate up-and-coming talent in marketing and business development (BD) functions in the professional services sector – recognising those making a real difference to their firms at assistant and executive level.
Our panel of judges, leading figures in the BD and marketing world, shortlisted five fantastic finalists, who were praised for their energy, commitment and resourcefulness.
But – as the saying goes – there could only be one winner. And that was Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner’s (BCLP) Amanda Birch.
Amanda stood out for her ability to adapt to strategic and structural changes, engage effectively with multiple stakeholders and work independently on a wide range of projects. She thoroughly deserved the award – and we were delighted to receive so much lovely feedback on both her success, and the idea of the award itself from across the sector.
We have been so busy over the past year placing some fantastic candidates into a burgeoning number of assistant and executive roles.
We know first-hand just how impressive this up-and-coming talent is, and it was a major driver for launching this award. But the contribution these professionals are making struck us even more as we received more than 50 submissions, coming from applicants with a wide variety of backgrounds, some with degrees, some without, and equally from legal and wider professional services.
Each nomination represented a highly valued individual engaged in far-reaching work that is clearly making a huge difference to the delivery of professional services today. And their work can teach us much about how the marketing and BD function has changed.
One example, many lessons
Take Amanda’s story, for instance. In July 2019, Amanda started in a marketing assistant role that supported both BCLP’s finance practice as well as its sector groups, meaning she had to manage multiple stakeholders and areas of responsibility.
She had deadlines coming in from every side so had to be a good communicator, learn how to prioritise, and take both a strategic and tactical approach depending on the task. Very quickly, she was taking on new and more senior challenges – as Amanda herself put it, she learned a huge amount in a short time.
She has undertaken major projects that have made a big difference to the firm. She is the principal developer of the BCLP Sectors & Initiatives App, promoting excellence in communication and knowledge sharing both internally as well as with clients externally, and she has made a significant contribution to the firm’s ‘Power Up’ campaign, supporting the firm’s electric vehicle (EV) sector expertise.
Not surprisingly, Amanda was promoted to marketing and business development executive in July 2021 and hopes to progress to senior executive and then manager. Her focus is now on banking, where she wants to learn as much as she can about the industry to become a strategic advisor, including analysing the financials and client relationship management.
The change you want to see
It is a notable shift. Not long ago, BD and marketing functions in professional services firms were typically relatively small affairs where professionals might have moved between firms to develop their careers. Amanda and all those who were nominated for this award showed something different – the opportunities to build a strong career in BD and marketing, often within one organisation.
Firms have clear promotional frameworks and opportunities in place, combined with the ability to offer team members far-reaching projects and responsibilities that make a tangible difference to the business. We saw nominees involved in work that delivers real value to client relationships, whether in terms of better understanding client feedback or delivering products that improve external communications day-to-day.
Amanda herself summed it up best when she described the profession she has joined.
“This is a very fast-paced environment,’ she told us after winning the award. “There are always new projects being introduced and the variety is huge.
“You never know what each day is going to bring, and there are so many different facets to BD and marketing functions today – from client relationships to PR and comms to pitching… there’s so much to explore.”
We are delighted Amanda received the recognition she so richly deserves. But we are also impressed by the day-to-day work revealed by all the nominees. They show a BD and marketing function that is going from strength to strength in delivering tangible improvements to the business performance of today’s professional services firms. Following the success of Totum’s Rising Star Award, we launched a new award, recognising the achievements of those in leadership roles across business services functions and the winners have been announced. To find out more, visit our Best Business Leaders awards.
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