“Sky has made being included easy…”
Last month marked International Transgender Remembrance Day and we caught up with Katie, Communications Specialist, about her experience of inclusion here.
Katie, "International Transgender Remembrance Day, marks thoughts for people who have lost their lives dealing with their dysphoria of not feeling comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth.”
"48% of transgender people in the UK under the age of 26 have attempted suicide whilst dealing with the reality of being trans, whilst others have had their own lives taken for just being different.
I’m transgender and I feel lucky to be working for a company that has been inclusive and supportive of the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender), my treatment here has been impeccable but other workplaces around the world aren’t so accommodating.
I came out at Sky a number of years ago whilst working in Sky Voice & Broadband Operations and the support I had from my work colleagues has been great, I’m treated just like any other employee.
It has been a tough journey for battling my own feelings of inadequacy and public ridicule but I’m thankful my employer has made one part of my transition extremely easy.
The tide is slowly starting to turn in the UK & Europe with the acceptance of being trans and by and large the media attention has helped but I can assure you Caitlyn Jenner’s journey is far from the reality many people face on a daily basis!
We’re quite a small community within the LGBT spectrum so I can imagine for some people working at Sky it would appear there aren’t many of us working here, so I thought I’d put my face out there and let you know that you aren’t alone.
“Well done guys you are truly awesome!”
Our Sky Retail Teams pride themselves on showing the best of us to every single customer and, recently, two Store Managers, one Sales Advisor and two stores have been recognised for doing exactly that.
First up is Store Manager, Vishal Mehta, from our Brent Cross Sky Retail store who was awarded Employee of the year in the Brent Cross Customer Service Awards.
The award is given to recognise and reward high-quality and innovative customer service given by an employee within Brent Cross, one of the UK’s most challenging retail environments, where expectations and sales are equally high.
Area Manager, Neeta Patel said of Vishal: “Vishal is simply a unique store manager and absolutely stands out in how he leads the team at Brent Cross to deliver a great customer experience and show the best of Sky, whilst not losing sight of how important the customer journey is.”
Store Manager, Ramnik Limbani, (left) and Sales Advisor, Robert Timms, from our Uxbridge store were both recognised by Centre Manager, Angela Vieira.
Ramnik and Robert were given the awards as the Centre Management teams received feedback about the excellent levels of service that their customers had received.
Our Sky Retail store in Aberdeen Union Square recently picked up an award for the ‘Best in Mall’ retailer. Store Manager, Azim Merchant, collected the award from local newsreader, Andrea Bryman, along with Area Manager Brian Smith.
Area Manager, Brian Smith: “The whole team’s delighted. It's a very high-end centre with Apple, Sony, and Hugo Boss stores amongst many, so to win this award is fantastic.”
Our Sky Retail store in Leicester Highcross also picked up the ‘Best Retailer in Mall’ award, thanks to the team, Caroline Kelly, Daniel Saleh Izadkhast and Anil Patel.
Area Manager, Ady Brookes told us: “This is the second year running that the team have won this award. Well done guys you are truly awesome!”
“The teams are doing an amazing job…”
This week we celebrated success at the Customer Contact Association Awards in Glasgow. Eight of our nominees were on the shortlist and recognised for the fantastic job they do every day.
Chris Stylianou, our Managing Director, Customer Service Group, said: “It's fantastic to win awards like this! The teams are doing an amazing job and, as well as recognising their hard work, it shows that what we're doing is the right thing for our business and, more importantly, for our customers."
The Winners were
- Professional of the Year – Manager - Debbie Rankin
- Back Office Team of the Year - Customer & Advisor Experience Team
- Corporate Social Responsibility in Customer Contact - Sky Academy & Sky Sports Living For Sport - People Plan Team
- Contact Centre Team of the Year - Business to Customer - Newcastle Service Contact Centre
- Contact Centre Team of the Year - Business to Customer - Subject Matter Expert Team
- Professional of the Year – Manager - Michael Ryan
- Professional of the Year – Advisor - Cheree Geddes (BBCOE)
- Professional of the Year – Leader - Ben Morrison (Leeds)
"I never thought I’d have the opportunity to get into the industry at this age.”
My time as an Apprentice in the Software Engineering Academy
I’ve always been interested in technology and knew I wanted to do something within this area. However I became more focused on my career in Year 10 when I had to make those important choices; so decided to study Computer Science and I’ve been coding ever since!
Until I saw the Software Engineering Academy scheme on the Starting Out website I never thought I’d have the opportunity to get into the industry at this age. Apart from all the experience I’ve gained, being an apprentice, I’m also working towards achieving Level 4 Certificate in IT, Software, Web & Telecoms Professionals. . The best thing about my apprenticeship is that I get to work on various Sky products and feel like a valued member of the team.
Before the start of my apprenticeship I went on a 4-week boot camp where I learnt agile principles, Java & TDD. At the end I was given a task in a team and the opportunity to present to a range of people from Sky. This boot camp was really useful as it’s where I learnt a lot of the core skills that I’m now using on my projects.
After this, all the other Leeds apprentices and I travelled down to London for an induction, not just about software but also about the other departments at Sky. During the induction we had the opportunity to speak to senior people and had a Q&A with Jeremy Darroch, which was amazing! Also the networking event was great, as it gave me a chance to speak to current apprentices and hear about their experience working here.
The project I’m currently working on is the “Sky Way finder” which is an interactive map for the new Leeds’s Dock Campus for mobiles. I work with other apprentice’s and graduates on tasks within this project.. We also have a Product Owner and Scrum Master from the business who are involved in the project; they keep us on track and support us. These projects have given me the chance to learn lots of new technologies, I started with web development but now I’ve moved on to Mobile development and I’m particularly enjoying swift!
What I love about working here is the culture; it’s a really nice, relaxed environment to work in, also everyone is willing to help me, even if its time consuming. Sky is a really fun place to be an apprentice and since I’ve started I’ve felt really welcomed by everyone. This apprenticeship opened up a lot of opportunities for me that I wouldn’t have had otherwise had access to and I look forward to my future here!
The annual Attitude Awards celebrate people who have shaped the lives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community
The annual Attitude Awards celebrate people who have shaped the lives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, and we continued our ongoing sponsorship of the awards held at the Royal Banqueting Hall in London’s Westminster at the end of October.
This year, our people from the LGBT@Sky employee network mingled with the likes of Vivienne Westwood, rugby player Keegan Hirst, Sir Ian McKellen, Lorraine Kelly, Boy George and Fleur East at the event which raised money for the Elton John Aids Foundation.
Our LGBT@Sky network is a group run by volunteers from across Sky. It’s a support and social network open to anyone who’s interested in getting involved and helping us be a better place to work and somewhere where everyone can be ‘just be’ themselves.
Sky Sports presenter, Mark McAdam presented the Attitude Active Award to the England women’s national football team – heroes of the 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup in Canada.
Mark said, “Being part of this year’s Attitude Awards was a totally new experience for me - I’m more used to cold football stadiums than banqueting halls - and it was great to meet so many people who’ve done so much to create a more inclusive society. It was a big honour to be asked to present an award and to be part of the team representing Sky’s commitment to diversity.”
We also sponsored three ‘Icon’ awards recognising achievements in promoting acceptance and inclusivity in the UK and worldwide:
- Icon Award for Lifetime Achievement: April Ashley, one of the first British people to undergo sex reassignment surgery
- Icon Award for Outstanding Achievement: Holly Johnson, who helped pave the way for generations of gay popstars
- Icon Award for Outstanding Achievement: activist and artist Yoko Ono
Stuart Murphy, Director of Entertainment, said: “We are proud of being an employer that welcomes people irrespective of their colour, gender, age or sexual orientation. Sponsoring these awards is an important demonstration of those values.”
This year our Shine awards celebrated the people who live and breathe our vision of offering the best service in the country.
Last month, over 300 of our GoldStar winners showed up in style to Prestonfield House in Edinburgh to celebrate the 2015 Shine Awards!
Shine is our recognition scheme for everyone in the Customer Service Group and rewards people who live and breathe our vision of offering the best service in the country.
Over the past year, more than 106,000 Shine recognitions were sent. The best of those are our GoldStar winners, who joined us to celebrate last night.
Our own Ru Scott from Internal Communications was back to host the awards for a second year. He was joined by Chris Stylianou, Managing Director, Customer Service Group, and Sky News presenter Dermot Murnaghan.
Guests were treated to performances by swing crooner Andy Miller and Saltire Beat, a band consisting of bagpipers, guitarists and drummers who played a mix of rock and pop classics.
All of our guests were GoldStar winners, but there were ten individuals and three teams called up on stage who really stood out. They were recognised in three categories for offering the best service in the country.
Well done everyone!
“Our function helps to drive change throughout all levels of the business. “
I confess being an Auditor is not known as being one of the most glamourous roles in Finance. We’re seen as dull, grey individuals with a liking for numbers, spreadsheets and rules. “Worse than a traffic warden” is one way that my job role has been defined.
But I’m proud to be an Auditor, particularly here at Sky. Our function helps to drive change throughout all levels of the business. We challenge the status quo to create operating efficiencies and identify opportunities to add value to both the customer journey and more traditional commercial terms. There are few roles in Finance which embrace Sky’s behaviours so fully. Take “Change and improvement” for example – this is my job!
I’m proud to be part of a great team, but my role doesn’t stop there. I’m in the privileged position to evaluate processes and procedures not just across the Finance function but across all levels of Sky’s operations. For example my own review schedule is diverse and in the last 10 months has included our Bigger Picture initiatives, HR processes as well as more standard Finance functions. I’ve also been involved in assessing compliance with our insurance obligations and spent time in our Milan office.
There’s always something a bit different to work on and looking forward to the next 6 months, I’m likely to audit: complaints handling, compliance reviews, the Irish and German operations and even our Bulgarian call centres!.. So for those looking into a career in Finance don’t let the stereotypes stop you.
"Eddie’s professionalism, enthusiasm and ability have been the backbone of Sky Sports' outstanding coverage of rugby league over the past quarter of a century."
At Monday's Man Of Steel Awards, Sky Sports' Eddie Hemmings received a very special honour. Our long-standing rugby league commentator was inducted into rugby league’s Roll of Honour.
At the end-of-season awards dinner for Super League, Leeds Rhinos' Zak Hardaker was awarded Super League Man of Steel. However, the well-kept secret of the final award was hidden from the host of the evening, when Chairman of the Rugby Football League, Brian Barwick welcomed Eddie into rugby league's Roll of Honour for his services to broadcasting.
Brian said, "Eddie’s professionalism, enthusiasm and ability have been the backbone of Sky Sports' outstanding coverage of rugby league over the past quarter of a century."
Eddie has worked at Sky for over 25 years alongside Mike “Stevo” Stephenson, together creating the iconic sound of Sky Sports' rugby league coverage. In his time with us, Eddie has seen the formation of Super League, commentated on 1,000s of games, watched it go from a winter to summer sport and also seen numerous innovations in the game, such as video ref and ref cam.
Neville Smith, Executive Producer, Rugby League, “Eddie has been my commentator, presenter, and great friend for over 25 years. It is fitting and timely that he is recognised by the sport he has served for so long at their most prestigious occasion, the Man of Steel awards night."
"Professionally, Eddie is a joy to work with. He is an engaging and comfortable presenter, putting interviewees at their ease, and able to respond in an instant to the constantly changing demands of a live broadcast. As a commentator he is colourful and has a sense of timing which gives great description to every moment of a rugby league match. Personally, Eddie is simply one of my best friends, and we have enjoyed a rare relationship which has been the base on which the Sky Sports' rugby league production has been built since 1990. Being inducted to the Rugby League Roll of Honour is a great honour and richly deserved. “
“There are unlimited opportunities here. All you need to do is take them”
I’ve grown up at Sky. I started as a Sales Specialist in Athena Court, Osterley, back in April 2006. At the tender age of 19, I was wide-eyed with enthusiasm and became rapidly hooked on Sky. I knew very quickly that I wanted to spend as long as I could here and, almost ten years on, nothing’s changed.
I remember a speech from our then CEO James Murdoch, particularly one sentence which resonated with me and stuck with me ever since: “There are unlimited opportunities here. All you need to do is take them”.
So, I went about doing just that.
Every day, I made sure I became as knowledgeable as possible about Sky’s services, products, operating systems and more.
I was getting on my manager’s nerves, forever asking questions and chasing answers. But, soon after, people were asking me questions.
As time went on, I volunteered to do everything that was on offer and became one of the designated support staff within Athena, which, in turn led to fantastic opportunities to travel the UK to temporarily support our strategic partner contact centres. I supported in Portsmouth, Cardiff, Derby, Derry and Richmond.
Time passed and I wanted new challenges. In June 2010, I successfully joined the CORE Team, who are pivotal within Athena, providing support to projects for stakeholders across the business. I also became a Subject Matter Expert, supporting advisors and working with management and stakeholders to drive positive change in our area and the wider Sell Sky estate. As always, I took on every project I could, built as many great working relationships as possible, and learned so much from all of them.
More years passed and, once again, I felt ready to move on to new challenges. After applying, I was fortunate enough to be invited to interview for a Provisioning Accuracy Analyst role. I asked to shadow the team, who helped me immensely and provided really useful advice leading up to my interview.
Now, after almost ten years in Sales, I’m in my new role with that same wide-eyed enthusiasm. I still have a determination to help my new team improve the technical quality of Sky Talk and Broadband sales placed throughout the business’ various routes to market. We're also focused on reducing any inaccuracies which impact the successful provision and activation of our Sky Talk and Broadband services. I’m already loving every minute of it…
It seems hard work really does pay off…
Sean, Provisioning Accuracy Analyst, Sky Voice & Broadband Operations
“The numbers and spreadsheets are a key part of the job, but the fact that they’re about TV programmes and we need to know who’s watching what, across the country, each week, makes it a lot of fun”
- Name: Kathryn
- Job Title: Senior Finance Manager, Sky Media
- Describe your journey to get to your current role: I joined Sky 5 years ago after training and qualifying as a chartered accountant at PwC in their banking division. I joined as a Finance Analyst in the Communications Products area, doing a subscriber and marketing-focused role during an exciting period of rapid growth as we were expanding our broadband business and successfully acquiring more customers on ‘triple play’ bundles. I was then promoted to Financial Controller and moved into a broader role covering Sky Sports and Sky Movies customer bases and marketing budgets, as well as Sky’s overall brand marketing budget which covers the glamorous big campaigns seen on TV and in the press. After that, I was keen to try something completely different and moved to Sky Media, my current role, where I am Senior Finance Manager and look after everything commercial finance-related for our advertising sales business. This covers a broad range of areas from traditional TV advertising ‘spots’ that we sell for our own and partners’ channels, to ads sold online for the Sky Sports and Sky News websites, and new innovations such as Sky AdSmart which allows advertisers to reach their audiences in a much more targeted way.
- Please provide a couple of examples where you’ve displayed leadership during your time so far at Sky: The 2 biggest things I’ve worked on were: the deal to add Channel 5 into Sky Media’s sales portfolio this summer, and a project in the year leading up to the launch of Sky Sports 5 as the home of European football. The Channel 5 deal was a huge challenge from a timing perspective – it happened very quickly with about a month from the deal being announced until we started to sell ads on their behalf, as well as being right before our financial year-end. I created an integration plan from scratch, bringing together our finance teams from different areas such as accounts receivable and reporting to work out what we needed to do and when. The Sports project was totally different and at the core of the customer business with Sports and Broadband as a key priority. I led the modelling of various scenarios addressing different segments of the customer bases and my analysis and projections supported the option we chose, which was to launch Sky Sports 5 as the home of European football, paired with a broadband offer. I was part of a team from across Sky which then made this idea reality in a very short space of time, from launching the channel itself to filming David Beckham in the Sky Sports ‘research lab’ ad you might have seen last summer.
- What’s your biggest achievement? I was honoured to be nominated and included in Accountancy Age’s ‘35 under 35’ list earlier this year, recognising accountants working in business.
- Tell us about your involvement our Finance diversity initiative: I’m passionate about diversity getting the best business outcomes, and in Finance we’re committed to improving the balance of our teams with this aim. For the last couple of years we’ve been working on an initiative to support this and we’ve delivered some tangible results. We now have a Modern Apprenticeship scheme for school leavers, our event focused on women in finance was attended by over 200 people and we’re now piloting training for managers examining unconscious bias and how this influences us. There’s more work to do but we have great momentum and buy-in.
- What do you most enjoy about work? It’s great to work at a company with such a strong brand and products. The numbers and spreadsheets are a key part of the job, of course, but the fact that they are about TV programmes and we need to know who’s watching what, across the country, each week, makes it a lot of fun. Finance teams are at Sky are also generally embedded into their business areas, so are really seen as part of the team and trusted advisors – I like the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve made a difference.
- Conversely, what are the main challenges? In my current role it’s definitely getting the right balance with other areas of the business. We’re not always the most popular as we’d love to put ads everywhere if we could, but sometimes that’s not the best answer for the customer; so we have to look at things together.
- What’s work/life balance like for you? Overall it’s pretty good – life is busy but I like it that way! It’s rare that something comes up which requires me to change my plans. I think it’s really important to make time for exercise and relaxation, so I do that regularly and it’s important that my team see that to encourage them to do the same. I’m more of a morning person so after 6pm most days I challenge myself – does this task need doing tonight? am I going to be productive in the next hour? or am I going to be happier, more relaxed, sleep better and be fresher to tackle the task in the morning, if I go and do a yoga class or cook a nice dinner at home.
- Which programme / series is sitting on your planner waiting for you to watch? As my team well know, I have quite a varied taste in TV including a guilty pleasure for reality shows like Geordie Shore! I also love a good drama – I found The Legacy on Sky Arts intriguing, I thought Fortitude was epic and really special given it was our biggest ever commissioned show, and I’m looking forward to the next series of The Affair on Sky Atlantic which started last night. It’s a slick US drama with a unique way of telling the story where you see it told from both sides and you’re never quite sure what the truth is.