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Anyone who has ever graduated from AWARD School knows how challenging the course is. But what about the tutors? Like AWARD School alumni, they work incredibly hard, with the aim of ensuring students exit the course as well-equipped as possible to further their creative careers. Alex Derwin, BMF Australia Chief Creative Officer, talks about the vital and unique role of the AWARD School tutor, and why becoming a tutor is a great career move in itself.

Anyone who has ever graduated from AWARD School knows how challenging the course is. But what about the tutors? Like AWARD School alumni, they work incredibly hard, with the aim of ensuring students exit the course as well-equipped as possible to further their creative careers. Alex Derwin, BMF Australia Chief Creative Officer, talks about the vital and unique role of the AWARD School tutor, and why becoming a tutor is a great career move in itself.

From your perspective, what makes AWARD School so special in our industry?


Having never completed AWARD School as a student, I’m envious of the grounding it gives aspiring creatives into the process of coming up with ideas. In the space of a few (intense) weeks, students can learn what would take years on the job. They get week-in-week-out access to some of the best minds in the business, hearing advice on every important medium from creative leaders with a world-class pedigree. Then they get to apply their thinking and workshop it with the safe pair of hands in their tutorials. It’s a full-service, belts-and-braces, don’t-hold-the-bacon immersion into the fun side of our business – coming up with shit.


Apart from the obvious curriculum stuff, I love the virtuous cycle that AWARD school creates for our industry. Over the years hundreds of industry professionals have given back to advertising with countless hours of voluntary AWARD school mentorship, to then be able to stand back with pride and watch as their graduates thrive in their careers and go on to take up the mantle of AWARD tutorship themselves.


Also, I think the alumni speaks volumes for the power of AWARD school. Imagine being David Droga’s tutor? Or Leo Premutico’s? That gives you way more cred in my book than any award.  In fact, whoever were their tutors should probably take a cut of their businesses.


 

Last year BMF took out an AWARD School Gold Sharpener award as one of the top tutor agencies. What in your view makes an outstanding AWARD School tutor?


How you tutor someone is personal, there are no hard and fast rules, and there are great tutors of all kinds. Some are methodical, some will be decisive and immovable with what they think is good. Others will make it fun and collaborative, inviting discussion and debate. Personally, I prefer the second path - one that invites curious minds to ask questions and challenges received wisdom.


There are benefits in workshopping with students and other benefits in leaving them to work things out for themselves. There is no single way, and much like everyone had a favourite teacher at school, the hope is that each student will find the tutor that works for them at AWARD school.


What would you say to anyone who's considering putting themselves forward as a tutor for this year's AWARD School?


Absolutely do it. If you hope to become a CD one day then AWARD school will give you a taster of what it’s like to keep a team of talented, determined, and sometimes sensitive creatives motivated and delivering ingenious thinking week after week. Whilst challenging on your time and your patience, the pride you get from watching your students’ progress is often much deeper than you get in your day job. Also, make sure your agency provides your dinner and a bottle of wine. It’s hungry work.


Successful AWARD School applicants always spend a lot of time readying themselves for the course. How do tutors go about preparing to take on their role? 


It varies. Some tutors will have a cursory look at the briefs and use gut instinct from there. Others will prepare exercises, gather reading material, and really immerse themselves in the briefs.


And finally do you have any words of advice for our 2021 AWARD School students?


It’s going to be tough, and it’s going to get really stressful. You’ll have times where you think everything clicked and you ‘get it’, quickly followed by a humbling fall from grace where you’re sure you’re an imposter and question whether you’ll ever ‘get it’. That’ll happen, and keep happening throughout the early days of your career. There’s really no escaping it, but remember that everyone, all the way to the top, suffers from imposter syndrome and to have doubts about your ability, only to conquer them with a cracking idea, is what makes this job so damn amazing. You’re about to step on a rollercoaster, scream as loud as you like, but keep a smile on your face.