Sunday, 3 February 2013

How does one become a Master?

I sent this new photograph of myself in the week to Professor Caroline Tynan in my regalia as Master, wearing gown and badge of office. 
Caroline was my tutor at Henley Management College where I took my MBA in 1992.  As part of my final dissertation I wrote about the marketing of the BT Phonecard - a somewhat pioneering innovation for its time aimed at removing cash from public telephone boxes around the country in the hope of reducing theft and vandalism. 
Unknown to me this work was submitted to the Worshipful Company of Marketors for consideration for its annual award for the best Marketing submission as part of the Henley MBA Programme.  I won!
Accordingly I received an invitation from the Company to attend the "Bowden Dinner" in October 1992 to collect my award from the then Master Geoff Darby - a large gold medallion bearing the Company's Coat of Arms and a cheque - and also had my very first introduction to a Livery Company.  What a grand occasion it seemed - so formal - and all held in beautiful historic surroundings.  A short time later I decided to join the Company, duly applied, was interviewed and then admitted at a Ceremonial Court as a Freeman.  In 1995 I took the next step of being made a Freeman of the City of London in an interesting ceremony at Guildhall.  For a short time I was the youngest Freeman of the City - but only until the next was admitted.  That in turn enabled me to be formally 'clothed' as a liveryman of the Company at a further Ceremonial Court.  I interested myself as a member of a number of Committees and in 2001 was invited to join the Court.  I found myself Chairing the Membership Committee and later the Awards Committee, appropriate to someone that had only come into the Company in the first place because of winning an Award.
After serving three years as a Warden, progressing through Junior, Middle and Senior Warden roles I now attain the great responsibility and privilege of being the Master, twenty years on from first introduction to the Company.
Each Master has the task of carrying the Company forward and in this digital age of emails and social media, we fulfill the function rather differently than our predecessors.  Our archive records a lot of communication in the early days by letter in order to progress ideas and initiatives.  Not for them the need for instant response, copied to all -  or for that matter a daily blog.  Leading a livery company in an age of IT creates its own challenges as well as opportunities as we move this year to embrace the technology for online booking and payment, as well as widening forms of communication. But the common role of a Master down the ages has always been to aim to leave the Company in better shape than we found it and to nurture our newer members to become future Masters.
I said to my old tutor Caroline in jest - what on earth did you get me into!  No doubt I'll find out in coming weeks and months.

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