This is my last blog as Master of the Worshipful Company of Marketors. On Tuesday 24th January, 2017 my last act as Master will be the very pleasant one of installing my successor, Sue Garland Worthington OBE in Clothworkers’ Hall. I shall then take my place as the Immediate Past Master.
It has been an immense privilege, a fascinating experience and a great joy to be Master. I genuinely regard it as one of the most important opportunities in my life. I have also had the huge pride in sharing it with my Lady, Carmen sometimes at my side and sometimes representing the Company in her own right. She too has thoroughly enjoyed the year and has made many new friends in the process.
As I come towards the end of my year as Master it seems appropriate to reflect on some of the things that have happened in the year. First, a few numbers. One of the Masters I have got to know well this year is Simon Leschallas, Master Vintner. Simon is in the drinks trade and he was Master Distiller in 2009-10, just seven years ago but in that time he reckons the workload of a Master has doubled.
This is partly because every Lord Mayor seems to want to add an initiative that will continue, not just occurring in his year. And it’s partly because the Livery movement is growing strongly and all the companies are putting on more events. By the time I hand over to the Master Elect I will have attended 254 engagements in the year. I call an engagement any meeting that promotes Company business, any Company event and any external invitation where I am representing the Company as Master. Of the latter there have been 107 of which 70 largely involved food & drink.
One piece of advice I got from several Past Masters was to accept every invitation. I have not followed that as it was impossible. There were too many diary conflicts. I have actually declined 57 invitations so it could have been over 300 engagements. I am pleased to say that my Lady has also represented the Company in her own right on several occasions. You may or may not be interested in the statistic of how much weight I have put on eating and drinking for the Marketors. Well, I’m pleased to say none at all.
Though I am not a church goer I’ve attended 20 services including four funerals and memorial services. I’ve arranged for 43 speakers to speak to us and made 46 speeches myself. I’ve written and published 48 blogs to date with a total of 55,000 words. Professor Malcolm McDonald thinks I should publish them as a book and maybe I will.
The most important lesson I have learnt is the high quality of work achieved by all of the Livery companies without exception. During one’s year, as the dates of installation vary widely, it is possible that one could meet 218 other Masters, two from each company. I have not met them all, but I’ve met a great many and developed strong personal friendships with quite a few which I know will endure.
The principal characteristic of a Master’s responsibility is that of stewardship, i.e. you must endeavour to hand the Company over to your successor in at least as good shape as you found it. It’s for others to judge but I believe I will have achieved that. Membership is stable and a great many are active in one way or another. Finances are healthy with record levels of reserves. We have had a lively programme of events with excellent attendance and several events fully subscribed. There have been several revivals and/or innovations such as debates, Outreach days, a pub quiz, a wine tasting dinner, a very successful conference, a career change workshop, and ,of course the Company’s first trip to South America!
I believe we have made good progress against all our Aims.
Aim One: Actively supporting the Mayoralty and the City of London. Our efforts have been widely recognised and some individuals have strongly contributed to this such as Past Masters Venetia Howes’ service on the City Values Forum and Andrew Marsden’s election in June to the Livery Committee and this month as Chairman of the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies. Court Assistant and Junior Warden-Elect Andrew Cross has helped the Corporation with design.
Aim Two: Promoting marketing education and the benefits of the profession of marketing to those in the City, the Livery and beyond. The formation of the Education Committee this year has been an important step forward in furthering this Aim. Our pro bono PR Agency Whiteoaks has also opened up several new channels of communication, both traditional and digital, for us to spread the word of our thought leadership.
Aim Three: Giving back both financially and in-kind, and making a contribution to the development of marketing. Our Trust now manages funds over £1,000,000 and has donated over £250,000 over the past five years, this year introducing the new Oxford Advanced Management Programme for Liveryman Karl Weaver. I called for an increase in the number of volunteers for Outreach and that has indeed happened. My theme Marketing for Good is Good Marketing has been well treated at our Great Events and our conference with widespread coverage.
Aim Four: Bringing in and retaining Members, fostering fellowship and planning and arranging succession. We have strengthened our culture of care with wonderful support from the Almoners. We have introduced the new status of Companion for widows and widowers of former members and already several have accepted this.
In summary we have made good progress with considerable innovation but without rocking the boat. I am especially proud of the conference and weekend in Oxford, the career change workshop, the new category of Companions and of course the unforgettable trip to Chile. And looking forward the Company is in very good hands.
And for my regular readers normal service will be resumed soon with regular blogs not necessarily relating to the Livery Company.