Hear from Bella about what we’re doing to develop a gender balanced workforce
In my new role as Director of Women in Leadership for Sky, building a business case hasn’t been high on my agenda. Why not? Because we know that diverse teams drive better business performance – we’ve read the research but more importantly, we’ve experienced it in the workplace
Today, over a third of our top 500 leaders are women – not half bad, but not ‘half ‘either. We want to go further by supercharging Sky’s talent and attracting great external talent. Over time, we want to move the gender balance to: a 50/50 split.
To do this, we’re taking a long term view. This isn’t something that we’re going to be able to achieve overnight, and nor should we try. If we just wanted to hit the number, that would be relatively straightforward, but if we want to drive business performance through this programme, that’s harder. We’re most definitely in the latter camp: after all, we’re not in the business of diversity; we’re interested in how diversity can drive performance. To put it bluntly, it’s not about employing and promoting more women, it’s about ensuring we’re creating a strong pool, a stronger pipeline and the strongest candidates for roles.
This isn’t something owned by me, despite my rather flashy title. It can’t be. To make this change happen, the business as a whole has to believe in it, own it, and push it through. Our Group CEO, Jeremy Darroch, is leading from the top, with the programme itself driven by Execs and their senior teams. My role, working closely with our People team, is to encourage, enable and support.
Our Women in Leadership Sponsorship & Development Programme will enable our best women to go further, faster. This 12 month programme provides our people with their own sponsor, who will advocate for them around the business, helping to identify and deliver new opportunities. They’ll also provide development sessions around self-belief and knowledge sessions on strategy and finance. Our pilot programme in Customer Service Group worked well and as a result we’re now extending it across new areas of the business. Around 40 women are taking part now, and we expect this to reach over 100 by next year.
We’re also looking at how we can better empower our people to work flexibly to get the job done. We’re supporting them with the right frameworks to manage key life events. For example our new shared parental leave scheme gives both parents more flexibility in how to share the care of their child in the first year. Parents choose how they wish to split their leave; both can be off work at the same time or at different times.
And we’re not stopping there. In order to make sure we’re attracting the best talent into Sky, we’re committed to providing balanced shortlists for vacancies within our top 500 leaders. This is all about levelling the playing field: taking the time required to scour the market and find the best talent for the role, the team and the business. It’s not easy to do, particularly in areas where there are a lack of skills, but it’s a crucial part of the mix. We’re also changing how we approach to the wider talent pool from the language we use, content of our recruitment materials and looking beyond our usual channels; this includes recent events for women in technology that you may have heard about. And, of course, we’re rolling out unconscious bias training to our managers too.
We know that creating the best performing, balanced leadership team will take time and commitment. But we also know it’s a no brainer: it generates better ideas, better decision making and better business outcomes. Why wouldn’t you?
“I love that every day brings a new chance for you to learn something new.”
- Name: Claire
- Job title: Customer Advisor
- What area of Sky do you work in? TV Live Chat Help at the Stockport Contact Centre.
- How did you get to where you are now? I started here just over 4 years ago as a Customer Service Advisor on Broadband Technical. I was in this role for about two years and loved the variety of calls and customers that I helped. Then with the support of my manager I moved into a Sky Guide role. In this role I supported our new starters within the contact centre. After gaining some more experience, I applied for a role as a ‘Fielder’ within the Improvement chain. This is a communications role and is around supporting the advisors. After this role I moved over to the Live Chat Team where I now take active online queries. So it’s been quite a journey!
- Describe a typical day… Every day is different because no Live Chat is the same. I help our customers on various things like billing, TV tech, upgrades and general help and support.
- What do you specialise in and work with on a daily basis? I really enjoy working as a Communications Champion for our Family here at the Stockport centre. I send out key updates to everyone here and also organise our Sky Buzz days so I’m involved in events planning. We use these days to get our teams together and they also give me an exciting responsibility alongside my day to day role.
- Describe your work/life balance at Sky? I have a great work life balance. I love the cinema, eating out with friends and seeing my family in Kent; my work here allows me to do this quite often.
- What’s the most enjoyable thing about your job? The variety and the people that I work with! I love that every day brings a new chance for you to learn something new.
- What would be your advice to someone who’d want to do what you’re doing? Look at our website for work opportunities, be dedicated and be yourself. Also don’t be afraid to ask for advice and for help to get to where you want to be.
- An interesting fact/something no one else knows about you? I have a guilty pleasure - I love musicals- especially Hairspray and Rock of ages!
“Try to be patient with the opportunities that arise, as you might not be successful every application. Make sure you get the feedback and learn from it.”
- Name: Christopher
- Job title: Customer Advisor (Stepping Into Management)
- What area of Sky do you work in? I work in BBOM Tech.
- How did you get to where you are now? I started here as an advisor. I did this for about 2 years and worked in a few departments along the way. After I felt it was time for me to take on new challenges I spoke with my manager about development opportunities and did floor support for new teams that came to Sky. After this I was involved in a project for launch of a new system in Broadband. I’m currently on the Stepping into Management Programme and am looking forward to all the new challenges this opportunity will bring.
- Describe a typical day… I start with looking at my schedule in case anything has changed from the day before and then plan my day around this. Then I go on to complete coaching sessions, call listening’s and side by sides as often as time allows. I try to encourage my team in all of these areas because we’re constantly trying to be better. Generally, there are meetings that I need to attend which would be around team performance. I help when advisors need support with our customers’ accounts.
- What do you specialise in and work with on a daily basis? Customer care and helping to support our advisors who speak to our customers on a daily basis. I help them find the right outcome for the raised queries by our customers.
- Describe your work/life balance at Sky? My work/life balance is really good here. We have a six week rotation pattern that allows me to work different times each week and therefore make plans on different days and at different times. That really works for me because none of my friends and family work static shifts either.
- What’s the most enjoyable thing about your job? I think the people I work with are great. There’s a good rapport in the call centre and I love the fact I can speak with loads of the different advisors. If you’re having a bad day people are always there to help and pick you up and of course vice versa. We actively encourage each other and that really helps in this role.
- What would be your advice to someone who’d want to do what you’re doing? I think working hard is really important. Also make sure you let your line manager know you’re interested in development opportunities so you can get all the support needed to achieve your goals. Try to be patient with the opportunities that arise, as you might not be successful every application. Make sure you get feedback and learn from it.
- An interesting fact/something no one else knows about you? I don’t like cheese.
“It isn’t just about technology. It’s about creativity, passion, knowing the customer and understanding business strategy.”
- Name: Chloe
- Job title: Product Analyst
- What area of Sky Technology/PDD do you work in? I work across Core UI, TV Experience, CT2016 and PDD.
- How did you get to where you are now? I studied Economics at Newcastle University and then Law at BPP, London where I did both the Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course. Having specialised in Debt Finance, Equity Finance and Private Acquisition, I went on to work in Finance. After a year, I realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I applied to work in Concept Development here – without knowing too much about it! I got the job and over the last 4 years I’ve also worked in the Innovation team, the Product Research Group and the Set Top Box team.
- Describe a typical day… There aren’t many ‘typical days’ in Product Development as every day throws new challenges and it’s dependent on what stage of the project you’re at. I work closely with the insight teams to ensure that our customers are always at the heart of what we build. I also liaise regularly with other areas of Sky to make sure the business requirements are being met. Once High Level Requirements have been defined for a feature, time is spent working closely with the UX team to create user journeys. Following this, the technical architect will be taken through proposals and then we draw up the detailed requirements. At this point the requirements are picked up and tested by the Developers. Throughout this process there is a lot of collaboration between us and the developers. Additionally, it is our responsibility to keep scrutinising the output to ensure it is done to the highest standard.
- What are the technologies you specialise in and work with on a daily basis? I currently work in the Sky Kids App team and need to understand the backend systems and different APIs we use.
- Is there any technology that you’ve worked on at Sky that you’re particularly proud of? The app I’m working on at the moment is really exciting and I believe it’ll be loved by both kids and parents.
- Describe your work/life balance at Sky? I have a great work/life balance. When I’m at work the pace is fast and there is always some pressure. There is some overtime but only because all Product people are perfectionists! I take advantage of the on-site gym if I need a break and never feel under pressure from my manager to stay late after work hours.
- What’s the most enjoyable thing about your job? Being part of a great team of people, with strong visions and great passion.
- Would you recommend Sky to other females in this industry? Yes – it’s awesome.
- Are there any misconceptions that people have about doing your role? People may believe that you need to understand the ins and outs of technology, but you work with a team that can help you analyse technical delivery. You get to build the confidence to question technical issues as you go.
- How have you seen the roles of women in the tech/product industry evolve over your career? For me, there’s always been a strong female presence at Sky as I’ve always worked closely with women. Having worked in technology for only 4 years I’m yet to see any great shift across the industry as a whole.
- What would be your advice to other females who want to do what you’re doing? It isn’t just about technology. It’s about creativity, passion, knowing the customer and understanding business strategy.
- An interesting fact/something no one else knows about you? I have an amazing bunny called Jessica Rabbit.
Thank you for your time.
“I was very proud when Sky won the best In-House Tax Team at the 2014 Lexis Nexis awards!”
- Name: Mark
- Job title: Tax Accounting Manager
- What area of Sky do you work in? Finance
- How did you get to where you are now? I came to Sky after working at PwC, Deloitte and Heineken. At Heineken, as well as my job in tax, I was also a qualified beer taster (genuinely! – These days I’m strictly amateur). So to leave my job there, Sky had to be something special.
- Describe a typical day… I’m not sure there is ever a typical day at Sky. I’ve worked for large organisations in the past but because Sky is in a sector that is changing all the time, everyday can present a different challenge. However a typical day sees me arrive at work around 8. I generally clear a few emails and then plan my day ahead. We have a high number of deliverables in my team which, if they aren’t met, come along with fines from the tax authorities. So I like to make sure that doesn’t happen (!) by ensuring everyone in the team is OK with what’s being ask of them, as well as ensuring deadlines assigned to me are met as well. The best bit about working in tax is it affects every part of the business so you will continually be involved in project work as a consequence. Away from my compliance deadlines my day will usually involve taking part in meetings about on-going projects. The tax team are split across various locations but in the time I’ve spent at Sky I’ve been involved in some amazing projects which have varied enormously in size and scope. It’s quite a full day so after all of that I tend to leave the office around 6.
- What do you specialise in and work with on a daily basis? My team are responsible for all of Sky’s tax compliance requirements. We work across all of the taxes (Indirect, Corporate and Employment) so it’s quite varied. People have negative connotations about “TAX”! But it can be very interesting. As a corporate function it gives you a great overview of the business. We get involved with lots of things via compliance, from TV production, to engineer visits, to how Broadband is provided, to Sky’s cycling team winning the Tour De France and everything in between. If you wanted to pigeon-hole us you could say tax compliance. But I’d argue it was much more.
- Describe your work/life balance at Sky? If I’m honest, my work-life balance isn’t great. But that isn’t indicative of Sky. It’s just where I find myself in life. I’m married with two small children. My personal life is going well and I want my professional life to go well too. As a result I have thrown myself into my job a little (as I know my wife has everything under control at home!). But putting my own example aside, Sky encourages you to try to strike a good work-life balance. We have great things in the office like a table tennis table, table football and TV’s showing Sky’s great channels. So you can take a break if you need it. And mostly people leave the office at a reasonable time.
- What’s the most enjoyable thing about your job? What I love about Sky compared to other places I’ve worked is the responsibility it’s given me. Sky really gives you the chance to take ownership of your work and how it’s completed, regardless of the level you’re at. Personally, when I started (4 years ago) my team was just me. But over time, due the value we’ve been able to deliver, I’ve been able to grow my team into something bigger. Not every employer would back you in such a manner. On a day-to-day level I love how varied my role is and the understanding of the whole business you get as a result. And personally I was very proud when Sky won the best In-House Tax Team at the 2014 Lexis Nexis awards! It’s nice to be recognised internally but it’s nice when our hard work is recognised externally too.
- What would be your advice to someone who’d want to do what you’re doing? I’m not sure I should ever be held up as a role model if I’m honest! You obviously need the usual experience and qualifications you’d associate with this type of role. But away from that my main qualities, which have helped me at Sky, are…1) being personable (there are lots of stakeholders so it’s essential you can get along with them); 2) being reliable (you will have a lot of responsibility so your managers need to know they can rely on you); and 3) being relentless (If I think something needs to be done, I don’t take no for an answer easily).
- An interesting fact/something no one else knows about you? I have a few…-I once offered Justin Timberlake a bit of my Kebab after the European MTV Video Music Awards (when they were in Edinburgh)-I helped bring the Throne from Game of Thrones into the UK-I’m a qualified Beer Taster (See point 4 - I have a certificate to prove it!)
“We were really pleased to see how well our teams worked together to make the project a success.”
Around two years ago, due to an acquisition from another network provider, our Customer Contact Centre in Newcastle were tasked with managing the migration of around half a million customers to Sky. We wanted to make sure our customers had an excellent experience and a smooth move to us. Naturally this project had its challenges but the thought of being part of such a large project made it even more exciting.
As Team Leaders for Customer Experience , we were responsible for managing the people who would help our customers with the switchover and it was crucial that we worked together to make the project a success.
We were really pleased to see how well our teams worked together to make this happen. As a bonus, we even received a Believe in better award for our achievement. The awards are pretty prestigious and saw our team scoop a prize of £2,500!
This gave us a fantastic opportunity to have a team night out and celebrate our achievements together. There was Champagne, an exquisite three course dinner and lots of team bonding of course! It was a great way of reflecting on our hard work and it was a lovely feeling that our success had been recognised throughout Sky.
“I enjoy learning about new products or systems, so working with different teams and continuously learning is great.”
- Name: Stephanie
- Job title: Senior Delivery Manager
- What area of Sky Technology/PDD do you work in? Product Capabilities
- How did you get to where you are now? I joined Sky as a Senior Project Manager in Technology working on the software that goes on your Set Top Box. I’ve continued to work on different projects over the last 8 years and am focused on the Set Top Box, Sky routers, NOW TV and product capabilities (Content search, recommendations and TV listings).
- Describe a typical day… I arrive between 8am and 8:30am and get a coffee (essential), after that each day will be different. There are usually at least a couple of meetings / stand-ups (the development teams work within an Agile framework) relating to future requirements or delivery progress for work in play. I get lots of emails and then I spend time updating plans, finances etc. Sometimes I’ll have a meeting over a coffee and some days I’ll go to one of the many places to eat around campus, with colleagues/friends for lunch.
- What are the technologies you specialise in and work with on a daily basis? I’ve worked across numerous technologies and back-end systems so I don’t have a speciality.
- Is there any technology that you’ve worked on at Sky that you’re particularly proud of? Delivering the NOW TV App onto Google’s Chromecast device.
- Do you have any examples of things you’ve worked on that are ‘changing the game’? Most of Sky’s products are leading edge and constantly winning innovation awards. Two examples are Set Top Box, Now TV.
- Describe your work/life balance at Sky? On the whole it is good, though working in delivery there are times when you are busier than others, at critical points in a project for example.
- What’s the most enjoyable thing about your job? I enjoy learning about new products or systems, so working with different teams and continuously learning is great.
- Would you recommend Sky to other females in this industry? Yes, definitely.
- Are there any misconceptions that people have about doing your role? You don’t have to be really technical. Just be prepared to get to grips with what you are delivering, be organised and apply common sense.
- What would be your advice to other females who want to do what you’re doing? Go for it. We make great delivery managers.
- An interesting fact/something no one else knows about you? I’ve made lots of friends at Sky, so they all know all my interesting facts, but facts I’ve shared are: I have a black belt in karate and I have just bought a bumble bee hive.
“I love my job and I’ve never looked back from leaving hairdressing; it was the best move I could’ve made.”
Before I joined Sky I’d been a hairdresser for over 7 years. I was a stylist and I loved my job, however I decided it was time for a change of careers as I felt like I’d reached my full potential.
I plucked up the courage and decided to start looking for a new job, as I wanted a challenge within a completely new industry. After I read the role description for Customer Service Advisor I decided to apply. I’ve always pushed myself and strived to be the best I can be. The Customer Service Advisor role was really well suited to my strong communication skills, customer service ethic and outgoing personality. I also liked the possibility of longer term development opportunities that would be available here and this really excited me.
When I found out I got the job, I was really excited and proud of myself. Once I completed the initial training and felt comfortable in my new role I spoke with my Leader about the potential of becoming a Customer Experience Leader. I had no managerial experience so I knew there was lot of hard work ahead. Together with my Leader we put a development plan in place, which helped me learn some of the key responsibilities a Leader needs on a day to day basis. I gained as much experience as possible and used my outgoing personality to gain advice and coaching, from different people within Sky. This helped me to create my own leadership style and fully utilise my strengths.
As soon as a position for a Customer Experience Leader was available, I knew I had to apply. I’d gained a lot of experience since joining Sky so knew I could do a great job. I was successful in my application and have now been a Leader for over 2 years. I love my job and I’ve never looked back from leaving hairdressing; it was the best move I could’ve made.
Sarah, Customer Experience Leader, Sky Newcastle
“I got where I am today by not being afraid to stand up and take responsibility...”
- Name: Alan
- Job title: Manager of Broadcast Centre Support
- What area of Sky do you work in? Broadcast Services Engineering
- How did you get to where you are now? I started with a Maths degree from Bristol University, then 8 years at BAe Systems building spacecraft and then I was hired by Sky to control our new satellite fleet (which we no longer have). Over the years I’ve gradually gained more experience with Broadcast Systems, and leading bigger and bigger teams. Now I run a team of 60 people, have a multi-million pound budget and am jointly responsible for the faultless provision of TV to 12 million homes.
- Describe a typical day… It’s a cliché to say no two days are the same but I guess a ‘typical’ day would start with checking e-mails to see if anything has happened overnight that I might need to know about or to help with – this determines if I need to change what I was expecting to do for the day. If there’s been some substantial issue then a large part of the day could be spent talking with technical and operational teams about resolving the problem, and with senior managers to assure them that it’s been fixed. Most days don’t start with a crisis so a normal day will be a mix of discussions with my team members to make sure I know how they’re getting on and to see if they need any help, checking on the progress of any major projects we’re working on, and making some time to do the routine that needs doing to run a team of 60 people.
- What do you specialise in and work with on a daily basis? I used to specialise in Satellite Operations and the associated technologies but I don’t really “specialise” any more. I guess I now specialise in leadership – getting the most out of other people rather than actually achieving anything by myself.
- Describe your work/life balance at Sky? I work normal office hours but can be disturbed at any time if a big issue is going on – but that’s pretty rare nowadays. I like to think I work pretty hard when I’m at work but Sky is also a great place to find a place to think quietly or to have chat with someone
- What’s the most enjoyable thing about your job? I enjoy lots of different aspects of my job: 1) freedom to decide very important things2) being involved with very successful high profile products and 3) dealing with challenging technical issues/But on a day to day basis – I enjoy working with a challenging, hyperactive and fun group of people.
- What would be your advice to someone who’d want to do what you’re doing? I got where I am today by not being afraid to stand up and take responsibility; not being afraid to challenge other people’s views – wherever they were in the organisation – and asking every possible question.
- An interesting fact/something no one else knows about you? Part of a Spacecraft that I personally designed was on display at the Science Museum for about 10 years.
Alex joined us for work experience, he’s now an apprentice and working towards his NVQ level 2 qualification.
- Name: Alexander
- What do you currently do at Sky? I am currently an apprentice Sales Advisor working in the Retentions department.
- How did you find out about this role? I learned of the position from my Mum who works in this department and had heard amazing things about it.
- Why did you choose this role? I chose to pursue this role as I have previously completed excellent work experience with Sky and felt it was a great opportunity for my future.
- What’s next for you? My next step is to complete my training and obtain my NVQ Level 2 qualification in Customer Service at the end of my apprenticeship.
- How did you find your Work Experience in Customer Service? The work experience was a fantastic week and I enjoyed it more than I expected. It gave me a real understanding of what the role involved and really opened my eyes to an amazing career I had not considered before. The work experience helped me further my interview skills and gave me an insight into the interview process. We learnt what goes into making Sky’s customer service the absolute best, as well as developing our team building skills. Every day was entirely different and fun, as we also learnt about the different career paths and opportunities Sky has to offer.
- If you could give any advice for current applicants that want to follow in your footsteps, what would it be? Keep an open mind and fully embrace the opportunity, you will enjoy yourself and gain invaluable experience.
- Do you have an interesting fact/something no one else knows about you? I am a massive fan of Anime and Manga.