No, this isn’t a tribute to the Cameo classic, though I am rather partial to it – even with the Village People-esque theme.

It’s actually all about a word.

I recently had an interview candidate ask me to provide a single word that summed up IQPC and, I have to admit, I was somewhat dumbfounded (a not altogether unusual occurrence to those that know me). Once I made it past the initial shock of having the tables turned on me, and the almost immediate indignation over the same, I had to ask myself – how do you effectively summarise anything in just a single word?

As I’m sure more than a few of my colleagues and friends will gladly attest (and as you’re about to discover), summary descriptions have never been my forte. Having been called both loquacious and garrulous, depending on who you speak to – and even having once had a poem written about my longwindedliness (don’t ask) – the prospect of providing a one word definition instilled a mild degree of what I can only describe as panic.

For the more curious amongst you, I did manage to stumble my way through a response – but the moment stuck with me. And it got me thinking.

How descriptive can a single word be? Part of me was tempted to take refuge in nominalistic nonsense (a convenient hiding place on occasion – and one I highly recommend). After all, working on that principle would save me an overly introspective debate with myself, leaving me free to indulge in my usual (of late) weekend pastime of furniture shopping.

If I’m absolutely honest however, it was less my sense of curiosity than an aversion to the aforementioned shopping that inspired me to sit down and put pen to paper (‘fingers to iPhone’ doesn’t have the same ring to it…).

The immediate answer that sprung to mind, once again showing that you’re never entirely free of philosophy 1.01, was that the meaning behind words are at least partially subjective. Without digressing into a lengthy diatribe on the topic, the meaning of any word I might have provided, particularly where a personal experience is concerned, was going to differ at least partially to any association made by my overly clever interviewee.

It never ceases to amaze me quite how large an impact a relatively straightforward insight can have (the bout of genius that I recently witnessed in Media One springs to mind – I’m still in awe, Johanna). Now, rather than trying to find the one word that would summarise all things IQPC to someone else, I’m instead looking for the one that will sum it all up for me.

Easy, right?

Or perhaps not. I thought so at first too. It was only after heaving a sigh of relief and giving myself a mental pat on the back that the problem manifested itself.

Dodging the nominalistic bullet wasn’t quite as beneficial as I’d hoped. True to form, far too many words sprang to mind.

So I instead turned to another device – the mind-map. If anything was going to present an answer, what better than a glorified game of word association (disclaimer: I’m an advocate of mind-maps but, let’s be honest, it is just a game of word association…).

You can see the fruits of my labour below.

Same problem. Far too many words! I feel though that having made you read this far (the marketer in me wonders where my drop off point was, for those that didn’t make it), I owe an explanation for a few of these at the very least, so:

How else to summarise a company that’s given me the chance to live and work in three cities, across three countries (to date – hopefully there’s more to come) and to develop my career along the way?

Admittedly, London probably isn’t something I can give IQPC full credit for – I was born and raised there, after all. Stockholm and Dubai though? Those are all down to the opportunities I’ve been given. I’d never been to Stockholm before, in spite of a great deal of travelling through a misspent youth, and the last time I came to Dubai it was just a road with two buildings – or close to.

International opportunities aside, the larger opportunity that IQPC provides is that it is, without doubt, a meritocracy. I don’t think I’ve ever worked somewhere that’s so keen to keep a hold of its best people – and so willing to accommodate them along the way. I’ve lost count of the number of internal success stories that I’ve seen firsthand, to say nothing of roles I’ve seen made specifically to match the career goals of the individuals concerned.

Put simply, if you’re willing to strive to be the best, there isn’t really a cap to what you can achieve. Internal promotion, career development and training or international opportunities – take your pick!

What IQPC-laden thought would be complete without mentioning Sky at least once?

For the uninitiated (the poor, benighted souls that you are), Sky is the in-house CRM database. As you can likely tell from my mind-map, it’s probably fair to say that I’m at least a bit of a Sky geek (honesty to ‘ON’: anyone who has ‘Weee!’ as the first thought they attribute to a database probably has at least a few issues – no matter how swanky it is!).

To a very large degree, it’s more than just a database though. These days, thanks to what I think is part of a master-plan aiming for world domination on the part of our in-house development team (tell me it ain’t so!), Sky’s a central part of the business – one that’s used by almost every facet.

When I was a kid, the best confectionary stores had a host of jars on their shelves, each one selling a particular type of sweet that you could buy by the quarter pound (yes, I am that old). They came in a small paper bag that added to the whole experience and, walking out of there, you couldn’t help but feel immensely satisfied – buying a bag of M&Ms these days just doesn’t compare.

That kid in a candy store feeling is how I would liken Sky for a marketer. Historical transparency, tracking mechanisms and reports galore… Want to know what Bob had for breakfast? We’re almost there! And, best of all, much the same as our marketing itself, it’s never static for long.

My vocation. Not quite a calling from on high (I don’t think they’ve got my number – even though it seems like every other mobile marketing source out there does), but something that’s become a calling nonetheless. A large part of the reason for that mental shift lies squarely with IQPC.

To echo a sentiment recently made by Jaime, I’ve never come across a company that’s so willing to change to accommodate its marketplace. The constantly expanding stream of marketing ideas and strategies, as well as a complete willingness to test any viable notion, are a testament to that fact. Throw some great marketing minds into the mix – I’ve had the pleasure of working for and with several people in this company that have repeatedly stretched my own understanding of what it is to be a marketer – and you’ve got a combination worth shouting about.

The impact that’s had on me has been significant. Understanding theory is never overly difficult. Experiencing that theory as practice though, is something else. And it presents an entirely new range of challenges – which, for someone that gets bored as easily as I do, is a massive plus.

That leads me rather nicely to the next of my words – challenge (anyone would think that was orchestrated!).

Challenge is implicit in the way IQPC is built. And it manifests itself throughout the business. It also takes a variety of forms. Personal, time-based, financial, strategic…the list goes on. I think if any one word was going to come close, ‘challenge’ would be it. Does it capture everything? Not even close. But the challenges of my role, of the company’s goals, of expanding my own knowledge and doing my job well – they all touch on some of the other elements that make the overall experience.

Naturally, there are more words that I could throw into the mix. Innovation, people, reward, growth… If I covered everything though, we’d all be here a long, long time.

The mind-map, while giving some direction to my thoughts, failed me miserably in providing an answer. If anything, I’d actually moved further away from narrowing it down. Wracking my brains for an alternative, I settled on another option. A word cloud.

An inspired choice, even if I do say so myself. Scrap the indecision, bypass my own mental meanderings and, instead, have Wordle make the decision for me (I know – with genius like that, it’s not surprising that IQPC hired me). To add to its relative ease, I didn’t even have to attach my brain. I just used a link to several posts made by my fellow IQPC-ers on what they thought about the company (thanks guys!).

Could my life get any easier?

Some strange ones in there, I admit – but it’s gratifying to see the overlap with my own musings. Marketing, opportunity, people, challenge, innovation… If nothing else, Wordle’s confirmed that I’m not alone in my experiences.

But it still hasn’t provided the Word (which has now been elevated to capitalisation). That particular description continues to evade me, much to my personal frustration. And, as I breeze past my self-imposed 1,500 word limit with a no doubt bored and dwindling readership, I’m forced to a single conclusion.

There isn’t one.

Several, yes. Several with rather lengthy descriptions attached to them, in fact. The IQPC experience transcends a single word definition for me. Part of the reason for that stems from my own aversion to brevity. The larger part however, lies with the company itself. A place that offers quite as large a variety of experience defies simple explanation.

A challenge then, to anyone that can do a better job than me – what’s the one word you’d use to describe where you work? Which one captures your experience?

Saleem Ali
Deputy Marketing Director – IQPC Middle East

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