“Be open to opportunities where you perhaps wouldn't always look”
Name: Paul Boyle
Role: Director of HR Strategy, Insight & Planning
This week marks my third year of working here and I can honestly say it's been an incredible experience. I joined as an HR Analytics Lead, which was a step back from my previous role in terms of seniority. In my previous company, I was in charge of a team, it was going well and I was very comfortable there. However, when this opportunity presented itself something about it really appealed to me. The role was smaller in scope, had no team responsibility and HR was not an area I had worked in before, but this gave an opportunity to broaden my experience in a completely new area of Insight. My friends and family were a great source of support and advice at this time. They could tell I was really enthusiastic about the job and would support me in whatever I chose to do, which was so important to me and with that everything just felt right.
When I started my new role it felt like starting all over again. My first few months were challenging and I started to doubt if I had made the right decision. I wasn’t sure why the things I had done in previous companies weren't landing. I thought about it for a while and wondered if I had made a mistake and contemplated what to do. I decided to reach out to my stakeholders and rather than jump straight to end delivery, focus on making sure I completely understood them as people, the areas they represented and that the solutions we were designing met their needs. Those sessions were invaluable and I'm really glad I reached out rather than just pressing on with those doubts in my mind.
The chance to apply for the Head of Insight role came up after I had been here for around six months. Even though it felt early in my time here, I felt like I would’ve regretted it if I didn't put myself forward, and it was similar to the role I was doing before joining. I believed in myself and I felt like I had a real understanding of what my stakeholders needed from the role, from the time I had spent with them. I sought advice from numerous people before going for the job, and the perspective that other people can bring I always find hugely important.
I’m now responsible for the HR Strategy, Insight and Planning function, and really excited about what the future might bring, primarily down to working in the type of company we are and the opportunities provided. My advice to anyone at a bit of a crossroads in their career is to be open to opportunities that exist where you perhaps wouldn't always look, to use your support networks to talk through where you want to go with your career and to back yourself to succeed at what you choose to do.
“IDS NowTV is one of the best teams I‘ve worked with – the projects, culture, people and atmosphere are fantastic!”
Name: Griselda Dias
Job title: Lead Analyst
What area do you work in? NOW TV - Insight and Decision Science supporting our targeting and decisioning across our customer journeys.
What was the content of the project you worked on? I worked on a proof of concept to create an algorithm, which generates the top 5 personalised boxset recommendations for NOW TV customers. These recommendations were tested via email channel to increase engagement in active entertainment base and win back previously churned customers.
Why was the experience on this particular project worthwhile? This project gave me the opportunity to be involved in the end-to-end process and collaborate with multiple teams. It was a complex piece of work which involved creating the model, conducting staff tests, discussing implementation with different teams, identifying the risks and ways to mitigate those risks and evaluating model performance. The breadth of knowledge and understanding that I gained through this project is extremely valuable since it has broadened my perspective and approach towards future projects.
If this project was in addition to your BAU, how did you manage your workload? I managed my workload by prioritising tasks and setting expectations regarding timelines/project output.
Who were the main stakeholders? Customer Marketing team and Win-backs team
What did you enjoy most about this project? I enjoyed the freedom of expressing my ideas and opinions. I felt empowered that I was part of the decision-making process and I could add value (in my own space), which kept me motivated throughout the project.
“Having a team that supports you and trusts your decisions really makes working here a joy!”
Name: Ste Prescott
Job title: Mobile Developer
What area do you work in? My Sky App
What’s your career journey been like up until now? Graduated from Sheffield Hallam in 2015 and joined the company where I did my placement. Felt too comfortable so moved in 2016.
What does a typical day working here look like for you? We’re really flexible and I work from home in Liverpool one week and then in office at Leeds the next. Typically, we have the iOS stand up first thing after the Android team have theirs. Here we share a brief overview of what we are working on and any issues we have or things we need to share with the team. After the devs have shared business will share any updates or feedback. From that stand up you’ll know if you’re to continue what you’re working on or pick something new up due to priorities changing. Once you know what you are to be working on you get to it. It’s not just a solo job, we are free to pair and share ideas. One of the great things is I work with some insanely clever people who I can bounce ideas off and learn from. We use GitHub issues to keep track of tickets. Each ticket will have a user story with acceptance criteria added by one of our Business Analysts. Any questions can be asked on that ticket so we keep all communication visible. Each issue brings its own challenges but we’re encouraged to do it well, not just get it done. We are given time to test our work and write code that we enjoy reading/reviewing. Once the work is done a Pull Request (PR) is raised in GitHub. At this point another dev will peer review it and the testers will pick it up to ensure it meets the acceptance criteria. If all is well it’ll then be merged in and be distributed in the next release otherwise it’s back to fixing the issues found.
If you’ve been here over one year, how have you made a difference in your role? I joined the service team because we were to build a new App using Swift. From a team of 3 iOS devs I assisted in growing the team to what is now 8 iOS devs (With more being recruited.). I’m also active within the iOS community here. The community link up with iOS devs across all offices and we share ideas, present and give pro tips to each other. We also arrange external speakers to come and give interesting talks too. I have been working with the other reps of across the locations to put in place a fair system to send some of our iOS devs to Apple’s WWDC.
What’s been your proudest moment since working here? On the dashboard of the new My Sky App there is a Sky logo that allows the user to tilt the device and see the image being refracted. I was given 3 weeks to build several prototypes one using SceneKit, another using SpriteKit and another using Core Graphics. The challenge was awesome, we as a team didn’t know how it could be done so it was fun to have the time to play.
What’s the most enjoyable thing about your job? The team. In most tech jobs there’ll be interesting challenges and that keeps an engineer interested. However, having a team that supports you and trusts your decisions really makes working here a joy! Not only are our engineers great, the management of our team are faultless. Several engineers could possibly name a scrum master, project manager or boss that they really didn’t like working with or made your job life difficult, in my team the management have our back and support us, keeping senior stakeholders away and allow us to do our job well.
Describe your work/life balance? The company is amazingly flexible and understand that people have lives. Several times I work extra hours because the work is so interesting but it’s always our choice.
What advice would you give to others trying to develop their career? Join some tech communities, they run several, get to know other developers in the area you’re interested in and give yourself time to play around with the new tech you want to get into.
An interesting fact/something no one else knows about you? I’m a qualified nursery nurse.
“I’m now responsible for delivery across a broader space and have more autonomy & opportunity to make my mark on the department”
Name: Tom Shardlow
Job title: Financial Controller
What area do you work in? Technology Finance
Previous Job title before promotion: Senior Financial Analyst
How do you think you achieved your promotion? I think the key was taking on additional responsibility. By demonstrating to senior stakeholders that I could deliver that work effectively, making use of the team around me in doing so, it was possible to show that I was ready to step up. My manager was also really supportive which definitely helped.
How has your role changed since being promoted? I’m now responsible for delivery across a broader space and have more autonomy & opportunity to make my mark on the department, with the help of my team. It’s also now my responsibility to ensure that the team is given challenging work, keeping them engaged & aiding their development.
What advice would you offer people challenging themselves to get a promotion? Make sure you’re taking on challenging pieces of work that demonstrate your abilities to the right people. Also, discuss up front with your manager your goals, including promotion aspirations, and get their input into how you can achieve them.
If you decided not to look externally, what was it about the Sky team that has encouraged you to stay here? We have a really meritocratic culture here and if you can fit into the fast-paced culture and prove yourself, you can progress here really well.
“We offer our creative services to Sky Sports News where we deliver the channel brand, develop and innovate new graphics”
Team name: Sky Sports News HQ Design Team
What does your team do within the department? We offer our creative services to Sky Sports News where we deliver the channel brand, develop and innovate new graphics, ensure key events from Sky Sports are delivered into Sky Sports News HQ and are on brand and support the live output.
What’s been your team’s biggest achievement or proudest moment? There are a number projects which stand-out such as Deadline Day and 92 live, but the biggest has to be the relaunch of the channel in the summer of 2014. Sports fans want to get even further into the heart of sports news, and so we were challenged as to how we could do this. We created a full rebrand which included title sequence, stings and full graphics package. 11 presentation points in a fantastic new studio, new ways of reflecting stories under investigation and those driving social conversations, and revamped apps and digital services. We designed and developed graphics for a 30-foot-wide video wall and 3 touchscreens. It was such a big project that the only way to deliver this was to work as a team!
Meet the team members:
Name: Jason Landau
Job Title: Design Director
What’s your role within the team? I lead the design team in Sky Sports News HQ and am across all creative from major re-brands to story explainer graphics. I work closely with production to ensure we deliver big events, developing new ideas and pushing innovation along the way.
What’s the most enjoyable thing about working in this team and at Sky? I’m passionate about sport and am also a viewer. It’s great to know I can help shape the way we watch Sky Sports! I love working with the team as they’re like minded people, pulling together and delivering a great product for the viewers at home!
Name: Faye Ashton-Davies
Job Title: Graphics Producer
What’s your role within the team? I’m the graphics producer for the team. Any projects assigned to us from the production teams are requested though myself, assigned to a designer and seen through to completion and final delivery. I also work closely with Jason and other teams such as the planning departments and senior creative across Sky Sports.
What’s the most enjoyable thing about working in this team and at Sky? I love the buzz of this job, every day is different. I love working on projects for a variety of sports, coming up with new visual solutions to keep our graphics looking fresh and exciting. Working at Sky is a dream job with loads of opportunities. If you really want to succeed here you can, anything is possible!
“Teach yourself to approach all work with positivity and as an opportunity.”
Name: Richard Homer
Job title: Senior Legal Counsel
What area do you work in? Technology and Enterprise Services
Previous Job title before promotion. Legal Counsel, Content and Commercial
How do you think you achieved your promotion? It’s important to understand the scope of responsibility in your current role and set clear objectives of where you can expand that scope to service the business more effectively and provide increased support to senior lawyers. Each piece of work is an opportunity to display skills, develop skills, and learn skills. Your performance should establish trust from those you work with.
What advice would you offer people challenging themselves to get a promotion? Teach yourself to approach all work with positivity and as an opportunity. And that means all: the good, the bad and the ugly. Reflect on every element of your performance in your current role: where are your strengths and weaknesses. Capitalise on the areas where you naturally excel, and get a grip of those areas that need attention. Self-improvement is a powerful tool. Reflect on each working day and be frank with yourself where things went well or less so. Learn from your mistakes. Engage a mentor. Listen to all advice. Take only some of it.
If you decided not to look externally, what was it about this team that’s encouraged you to stay here? It’s the high-quality legal work, the ambitious smart legal and commercial colleagues, and the flexible working environment that celebrates collaboration, hard graft and performance. And the food.
“I just did what any other person would have done and I’m glad I was able to be there when someone needed help.”
Our engineers truly are the face of the company. They meet our customers in person every day and ensure they receive the best possible service. But recently, one of our specialist engineers went above and beyond to help someone in trouble. This is Georgios Georgakos’ story.
Georgios, who has been working at Sky for over two years, was leaving a customer’s house in central London when he saw an elderly man collapse in the street. He told us about the whole event:
“I ran over and found him semi-conscious and unaware of what had happened. I began talking to him and, from his response, thought he may have had a stroke or suddenly lost consciousness before falling.”
“I checked he was breathing and kept talking to him, and he gradually became more responsive. He was able to give me his name and tell me he wasn’t in pain. I’d already put him into the recovery position and asked him to remain still to make sure he didn’t have any breathing difficulties.
“I spotted a passer-by who phoned an ambulance, while a neighbour came over with a blanket. But before the emergency services could arrive, he began deteriorating. We kept him warm, conscious and responsive.
“Thankfully, another neighbour had come out and knew the man. She was able to get in contact with his sister.
“He was becoming more conscious and responsive, so we lifted him up on to a seat. He had a cut on the back of his head which we were tending to when his sister arrived. She told us the poor guy had once been involved in a serious road-traffic accident which affected his short-term memory.
“The emergency services were with us soon after and were able to carry out all the necessary checks. As he was now with family and medics, I left but spoke to sister later that day who said he was making a recovery.
“I just did what any other person would have done and I’m glad I was able to be there when someone needed help.”
A shining star
To celebrate and thank Georgios for all of his quick reactions, he was given a Shine Award, part of a recognition scheme within the Customer Service Group.
“The best things about my role is the thrill of getting folks across the line with their activities while building in creative privacy options which place us ahead of the curve”
Name: Nina Barakzai
Title: Head of Data Protection & Privacy
What was your career journey before starting here, and what do you think most set you up for success? My career journey was in ethics and corporate governance, with strong focus on all matters to do with building professional conduct in companies to help them shine in an ethical way. The event which most set me up for success was asking a speaker at a course a challenging question – he spotted my curiosity and suggested I join a professional conduct working group, so I could channel my curiosity. I have been grateful ever since, as he helped me crystallise what I love about working in large organisations, how I could build my experience and use it to add value. He prompted me to qualify in finance, then law and has been a mentor ever since, guiding me through my marketing diploma, Chartered Arbitrator status and accredited mediator status. Although he has now retired from the Research Advisory Board on which I sit, he still challenges me, prompting me to think outside the box.
How did you identify that you wanted to become Head of Data Protection & Privacy, and then what did you do to develop and prepare yourself? I haven't ever wanted to be a Head Counsel or Director of Legal. I have always wanted to have an opportunity to share my ideas and my curiosity with others so that, as a team, we come up with a great way of doing things. This wish to share ideas is what has driven me to continually seek out ways of solving things with others. It prompted me to join think tanks like the DCMS Legal Deposit Advisory Board (LDAP), the Ministry of Justice's Legal Services Consultative Panel (LSCP) and the UK representative on IFAC's International Ethics Standards Board which sets professional conduct obligations for accountants worldwide. I was with people who were experts in their fields and I was the panel member from industry. In the case of LDAP, I had no idea, when working as a student in the summer holidays in the British Library, or when I started working full time at Reuters and Associated Newspapers, that I would eventually use that experience to contribute to how the UK might develop its strategy to build a national reference collection of information for future generations in a digital context.
What I did to prepare myself for all of my roles was to make sure everything I did was part of a constant learning process. It was often exciting just to learn something new and see if I could use that knowledge in a different way. That is certainly how I approached the work with the Legal Services Consultative Panel, where my task was to assess applications from organisations wishing to become Alternative Business Structures. One of the most interesting applications was the one submitted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales to provide wills and probate services. As an accountant and lawyer, I was uniquely placed to be able to comment on each professional area of expertise when contributing to the Panel's advice for the Secretary of State.
What did you want to be when you were little? I wanted to be an industrialist so I could earn lots of money and pay for miners in South America to send their families to school so they could break the poverty cycle of only being able to do one job, mining, which gave them a very low life expectancy and meant their families were always in debt.
What are the best things about being Head of Data Protection & Privacy? The thrill of getting folks across the line with their activities while building in creative privacy options which place us ahead of the curve compared to other similar businesses. The excitement is in knowing the company gives us, as a Privacy team, the freedom to design solutions at every stage, without losing the professional and technical rigour of advising in the context of commercial challenges which the business faces every day.
What are worst things about being Head of Data Protection & Privacy and how do you deal with those challenges? There is a constant volume of "noise" from all areas of the business which can take out all the headspace I need to come up with creative options.
What was the last book you read? It was actually a white paper on artificial intelligence – I’m really curious to see how machine learning e.g. IBM's Watson, incorporates privacy into its models.
How do you maintain a good work/life balance? I focus on each minute and ask myself the question "what can I hear and do I enjoy what I hear". If I don't enjoy it, maybe I’m not listening hard enough or maybe I’ve tuned into the wrong thing and should refocus.
What advice would you give people who are looking to progress their careers within our Legal team? What are the most important skills to build? Try hard to think about what you can do yourself to find an answer, before assuming either that you already know the answer, or that someone else can give you the answer. That way, you’ll own the question and the answer, gain a measured approach and build professional resilience along the way.
What do you think it means to have a 'positive (growth) mind-set' and how do you cultivate one? I find it helps me if I try to avoid making judgements on what is or is not valuable, attractive or interesting, because I then stay open to learning more about something. I cultivate my positive mind set by listening to others talk about their stuff. As I get more information, I can see why it might be interesting to them and where and why I might also find something interesting to think about in their stuff.
What would people be most surprised to know about you? I hate being competitive with other people, but am happy to compete with myself to get better.
“The trust gained from multiple large-scale projects allowed me to explore and investigate new and exciting areas”
Name: Philip Billmore
Job title: Senior Designer Sky Sports / Sports News HQ
What area do you work in? Creative Department
What’s your career journey been like up until now? My career here’s been an amazing experience and journey for me, developing far beyond anything I could have ever expected. The trust gained from multiple large-scale projects allowed me to explore and investigate new and exciting areas for the company that kept us at the forefront of creative development and technology.
What does a typical day working here look like for you? I’d be tasked with finding new and creative ways to deliver solutions for our internal clients that would be visually beautiful for broadcast. Keeping their requirements and the end user/viewer in mind for what those solutions would be, while doing the absolute most to keep creative leading the way. Problem-solving from original concept through to delivery.
If you’ve been here over one year, how have you made a difference in your role? I believe I’ve made a difference in my role by not being afraid to get out of my comfort zone to deliver projects. The best solution to a problem might not always be the one that’s directly in front of you. It might involve new processes, people and departments that need linking together to deliver great content for our viewers. I like to think I’ve done this in my time here, not being afraid to think sideways to find a solution that works better for the company and the viewer.
What’s been your proudest moment since working here? My proudest moment was the launch of the Ford Monday Night Football, through sheer will and determination as a team we were able to overcome some difficult technical problems to deliver a virtual studio that allowed the presenters to demonstrate and interact with graphical content in a way we had never done before. Matching studio elements to a real set was a challenge and the fact that people at home could not see the difference between the real and the virtual, for me felt like a job well done.
What’s the most enjoyable thing about your job? The greatest thing about my job is the people, this might sound cliché but it really is. I get to work with some of the most talented people in our industry and the collaborative nature of the job keeps me wanting to do more and more with them. Everyone has the same goal and we help each other achieve that goal.
Describe your work/life balance? I have a good work/life balance, pushing at the beginning of a large project would always be followed by a good period of rest, to reassess and go again.
What advice would you give to others trying to develop their career? Don’t be afraid of thinking sideways or around things, always think how can we do something better for us as a company, our clients and most importantly our viewers. I think it’s important to be interested in not just what you and your role is meant to do, but explore what others do inside and outside the company. As you may find something that you could work collaboratively on that could make a big change for the company and the way we deliver our content to our viewers.
An interesting fact/something no one else knows about you? If I hadn’t gone to University I most probably would’ve become a Basketball player, I used to play for West Berkshire and Reading Rockets and I used to live and breathe the sport.
“There are great opportunities to adopt new technologies, share components/services and contribute back.”
Name: Michael Anfield
Job Title: Senior Developer
What’s your role within the team?
I’m part of the Digital Trading tribe and work within the Accessories Squad as a Senior Developer and Scrum Master. It’s my role to make sure that we follow the scrum process while driving the technical direction of our applications. I also make sure that features provide value for our customers. My time is split between process, development and future planning to make sure our squad moves in the direction set by the tribe.
What’s the most enjoyable thing about working in this team and here in Leeds?
The current, most enjoyable team challenge is the re-architecture of the Accessories stack. Having the opportunity to plan, drive and get stuck in with the move from monolith to macro or micro services, is a great benefit of being in the squad and, at a personal level, really floats my boat. There are great opportunities to adopt new technologies, share components/services and contribute back. There are some seriously clever people here so every day is a school day!
Interested in joining our Technology team? Express your interest here: http://bit.ly/2gRUzCT