A remarkable journey
Alumnus John Clay (MBA 1988) was recently the recipient of Australia's highest marketing honour, the Certified Practicing Marketer award. He has gone a long way since graduating from the first ever MBA cohort at Nottingham University Business School thirty years ago…literally! We caught up with John to find out about his journey from the East Midlands to 'the land Down Under'.
John grew up in Kimberley, a small town a few miles from Nottingham. After attending his local high school he went on to study a BA Hons in Human Movement Studies at Leeds Beckett University followed by a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Analysis at Lancaster University.
After working in Oxford for a few years, first with a medical equipment supplier and then for the National Health Service, John decided to return to Nottingham and undertake the new MBA programme.
“I felt I needed to make a personal investment to complete my business education, so I left my job, got a loan from Barclays and paid for the MBA myself”.
“Nottingham was really good for me because it was my home city and it was the first year of the Business School which at that time was primarily based around industrial economics and the engineering faculty.
“The MBA opened my eyes to a bigger world. I went from being a 26 year old with with a solid undergraduate degree to being able to engage on a global stage.”
After successfully completing the MBA, John joined the UK telecom giant BT on an executive graduate programme and spent the next two years working in London. However, one cold damp morning he decided he should broaden his horizons and spend some time abroad, preferably somewhere warmer!
“Once the idea was planted I literally went to Australia House and applied for a visa right there and then. I assumed my stay would be for 18 months or so but here I still am almost 30 years later!”
Initially employed in marketing and managerial roles for several telecommunications companies including OTC, Telstra, and Nextgen, John was then appointed as Regional Marketing and Communications Manager for leading engineering and environmental professional services firm URS in 2005 before moving to global engineering consultancy Arup as a Principal and Head of Marketing and Communications in 2009. For the last 8 years John was a member of Arup’s Australasia executive team and was responsible for marketing, communications, and client engagement across the region; in addition to being the functional Skills practice leader for Arup worldwide.
John believes he is lucky to have worked with so many talented marketers over his career, and heartened by the increasing presence of marketing professionals in the board rooms of so many organisations traditionally dominated by bankers, accountants and lawyers.
“I truly believe professionals who have an increased customer experience perspective can drive better decision making and better outcomes.”
Commenting on the recent Certified Practicing Marketer award, John said: “It was an honour to be the recipient of the 2017 CPM of the Year, to be recognised by my peers for the contribution I have made to the industry; but more importantly recognition to some of the outcomes that the Marketing and Communications team has delivered in Arup over my tenure; notably significant growth in the brand profile and supporting a client centric approach to business.
The Australian Marketing Institute is the preeminent industry association for marketers in Australia, and each year they celebrate excellence through their awards programme, including an individual category of Certified Practicing Marketer, the highest honour that can be bestowed on a marketing professional in the country. The CPM award recognises professional marketers who have demonstrated a significant contribution to the profession and delivered consistent outcomes for their respective firms.
2018 brings the next chapter in John’s career journey. After 25 years in the professional services, telecommunications and IT industries, John has moved into a portfolio career consisting of Board, Advisory and Lecturing roles.
John’s board experience spans several years as a member of the Regional Arup and the Australia British Chamber of Commerce advisory Board. He is also a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Justice of the Peace (JP).
“In addition, to strong governance and strategic capabilities that is a prerequisite for any Board roles I bring professional marketing and communications expertise and experience to the board; especially in relation to the voice of the customer, customer experience, crisis communications and digital engagement skills.”
John is also applying his 25 years’ experience in B2B marketing and communications via advisory assignments through his marketing consultancy Foresight Marketing & Communications; and as a Sessional Academic at the UTS Business School in Sydney, John not only has the satisfaction of teaching up-coming marketing talent it also enables him to keep abreast of the latest trends and issues in the discipline.
He has also maintained his link with Nottingham and the University.
“I am still in touch with fellow MBA alumni from my cohort year and enjoy keeping up-to-date with what’s happening at the University through the alumni network. Coincidentally, Arup did the engineering for Jubilee Campus where the Business School is based."
Planning is currently underway to organise a 30 year reunion of the original MBA class of 1988.
Posted on Friday 9th February 2018