Millions of people are passionate about football. But how many can turn that passion into a career? Mark’s done just – he’s a Producer for Sky Sports
Mark has a job that many football fanatics can only dream of. So how did he get to where he is now?
“I only joined Sky supposedly for a week back in December 1991 – somehow I’m still here!” he says. “I began in a department called ‘Tape Despatch’, which sounds more glamorous than it actually was. Basically, I spent eight hours a day erasing video cassettes.”
Six months later, Sky Sports helped launch the Premier League and Mark helped launch our new Football Library. At that stage this consisted of a wardrobe with four shelves and Mark was guardian of the key.
In January 1994, Mark joined Sky Sports as a Production Junior and that’s when things really took off for him. “Over the next few years I worked on many different strands of live football, performing various roles,” he explains. “I was on the gantry counting corner kicks at Anfield when Blackburn won the title in 1995, and the following year I was in the VT truck, again at Anfield, for the famous 4-3 against Newcastle which still remains my favourite Premier League game.
“I was also part of the team out in Rome in 1997 when England drew with Italy and qualified for the 1998 World Cup Finals. Just one of several memorable foreign trips.”
In 2001, Mark began producing Sky Sports’ Bundesliga and La Liga coverage. Since then, his involvement has been widespread, covering both the Premier League and, for the last couple of seasons, the Champions League.
Last year, Sky Sports showed over 10,000 hours of football, an increase of more than 29% over the previous year, helped by the launch of Sky Sports 5. Our viewers can now look forward to 57 more Barclays Premier League live matches before the end of this season, making Sky Sports the home to over three quarters of all live televised fixtures for the remainder of the season.
So how does Mark play a part in all this?
“A non-programme office day sees me planning for programmes – which, in reality, means sitting at my desk talking about football and joking with my colleagues. It’s a little like being in a pub but with a tea in my hand rather than a beer! A programme day is always busy, one quick decision after another. Ironically, the quietest part is usually the match itself.”
Mark has many memories to cherish from his 23 years at Sky Sports but one stands above all other. “I spent an hour chatting with George Best after his Goals On Sunday appearance, which I produced in January 2005 – what a legend! I can definitely say, if you love football it’s the best job in the world.”
If you’re a social media guru with a passion for IT, take a look at our apprenticeships in Digital Service
Our people are vital to our success and it’s our HR team that support our employees across the organisation. Meet Bex, Sophie and Katrina. All three started their Sky careers on our HR Graduate programme. We bought them together to reflect on their experiences and give an insight to the programme.
What were you doing before you joined Sky?
Bex - I studied at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after my degree when I started. I actually began doing a social science degree and ended up doing a joint honours in Law and HR.
Sophie – I was at Bath studying Business Administration at the University of Bath. It was a broad degree where you could pick your modules based on interest. Across the 4 years I also got to complete 2 six-month placements, in HR and Marketing Communications. These were great for building my experience and helping me choose which direction I wanted to take my career in.
Katrina - I had finished my University course at Northumbria studying Business Management. I took a year out after uni, as I hadn’t fully decided what I wanted to do. The work experience I gained after gave me the opportunity to determine which career path I wished to follow and (more importantly) which companies / industry I felt passionate about joining and that lead me to Sky.
Which different rotations did you do on the grad programme and which was your favourite?
Bex – I did five rotations in total, all completely different! We have a companywide engagement survey and my first role was supporting the delivery of this. I then had roles working with the team that support the systems and main HR people processes that we use at Sky. These gave me a great grounding and in my final rotations I was supporting a directorate restructure, working in the Starting Out team supporting graduate recruitment and then also working with the People Development team designing and developing management programmes and inductions for new starters across the business. In all of them I was given so much responsibility from day one and looking back that was an amazing way to learn. In the Starting Out team I was helping out on the grad programmes from start to finish, careers fairs, interviews to planning and running assessment centres. Having not graduated so long before it was great being on the other side and helping Sky find the best talent.
Katrina - I had a real range too. Within 2 years I worked for recruitment, employee relations and Business HR. What’s fantastic about working for Sky, is not only do you get to experience the set rotations, you also get the opportunities to work on exciting projects within the scheme, enabling you to develop in areas which you never expect. For example, I worked on a project revising the HR intranet site, so developed skills in CMS Web design.
My favourite rotation was my business facing role. I worked with a great manager who was focused on my development, making sure I was exposed to lots of new opportunities and challenges. This was my final placement and it allowed me to demonstrate all my previous experience and learnings, whilst continuing to develop and stretch myself.
Sophie – My rotations differed to yours but my experience was really similar. Action-packed and moving really quickly! My programme kicked off in HR Services, where I had to get to grips with HR systems and processes before moving into the Technology Recruitment team for 3 months. I spent some time with Talent Attraction getting an insight into how Sky attracts top talent. From here I spent 6 months as a HR Consultant in Technology, putting my experience into practice with a business area of my own. In my final 6 months, I worked with the People Development team where I looked after a leadership programme for Heads of Department.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Sky?
Sophie – For me, my favourite thing without a doubt is the culture. It’s an exciting place to work and has a real buzz around the campus. People enjoy what they do and it shows.
Bex - The amount of opportunities that are available. Two years ago I was finishing the graduate programme and now I am a business partner. The programme gave me a great grounding and lots of experience and the fast pace really set me up for the role I’m in now. I really enjoy this constant variety and the changing environment.
Katrina - The opportunity and encouragement to develop. Not only do you get the opportunity for more formal study whilst on the grad programme, there are countless opportunities for self-development. This is aided by the pace of the organisation, as there is always something new to get your teeth into. There is never a dull moment working here!
One piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking of applying to a Starting Out programme?
Bex - If you want to work somewhere where you’ll be given real responsibility and you’re keen to learn, try new things and want to work with the best people, then you should definitely apply.
Sophie - Spend time on your application. The roles are really competitive but making sure you do your research, think about why you want to work for Sky and what excites you about the opportunity will put you in a great position. It’ll shine through.
Katrina - Embrace every opportunity given to you. Sky is a fast paced highly commercial organisation and you will get out of it, what you put in.
We met Sian who works in Sky Sports Digital Media who tells us a bit more about what happens behind the scenes in Sky Sports and what she loves about her job.
How did you get to where you are now?
Three years ago, I joined Sky as an Editorial Assistant working in the Sky Sports Digital Media video team. Though I enjoyed the editing, I found myself craving for the chance to utilise my journalism skills. I asked my manager for a secondment and spent a few months testing my mettle on the editorial team, ringing Sky Sports pundits like Jeff Stelling and Chris Kamara for their weekly columns. A year later, and I have the responsibility of looking after the digital output for a whole host of sports including Tennis, Darts, NFL, Netball and Snooker.
Describe a typical day…
No day is the same in Sky Sports Digital Media. Some mornings I’ll be in at 5am live blogging an Andy Murray match from Down Under. Then I could be at Ally Pally interviewing Gary Anderson after his World Championship win. Or you may find me strapping GoPros to netballers and producing a video masterclass.
How does your role impact the ‘bigger picture’ at Sky?
2015 is the year of women’s sport here at Sky Sports and we’re trying to raise the profile with dedicated digital coverage. As a female-led sport, Netball is changing the scene for us as a company, on broadcast and at a digital levels. With a productive group of passionate fans working at Sky, we’re determined to make another step in the right direction by showing Great Britain how talented the athletes are and why all women should get back into sport.
What’s the most enjoyable thing about your job?
The most enjoyable thing about my job is working on a project and seeing it come to fruition. Witnessing a small idea you had being shared by hundreds of thousands of people online is very satisfying. Plus, as I mentioned before, every day is different.
What’s your fondest working memory or proudest achievement?
I have so many! Helping to make the 2015 World Darts Championship bigger than ever. Producing the first Transfer Centre video and seeing it hit a million views in a transfer window. Being the first female editor on our sports editorial team. The list goes on…
Describe your role in one word:
What would be your advice to others who want to do what you’re doing?
Don’t pigeon hole yourself into one area of the media. A modern multimedia journalist needs to be confident writing, video editing, reporting on camera, picture editing and, of course, they must be social media savvy.
An interesting fact/something no one else knows about you?
While living in Sydney, I worked as a feature writer for a tattoo enthusiast magazine.
Andy has been a Home Service Engineer with Sky for over 3 years. What he loves most about working here, is the opportunity to do different things in addition to providing great service to our customers every day. Check out Andy in our film of what it’s like behind the scenes to be a Home Service Engineer at Sky...
Matt Grest, Head of Technology here at Sky, explains how crucial and exciting it is, to be part of our Tech Team in Leeds. He shares how it's a place which gives people the environment to really achieve their potential.
Why is Leeds so important for Sky?
Leeds is a key strategic location for us at Sky, with a large team working in two locations in Leeds City Centre. We have a sizeable Customer Contact Centre as well as a large Technology Hub, which is what I’m going to talk to you about in a bit more detail.
Tell us a bit more about the work, which gets delivered by our Tech Team in Leeds?
Our tech team in Leeds is the one behind the online side of Sky Sports, Sky’s most popular digital platform. If you’ve ever visited skysports.com or used one of our sports apps, then you’ll have seen some of the great work that the technology team in Leeds is focused on.
What makes it so exciting to be part of some of these teams?
A key challenge for this team is the constant focus on getting you up to the second information on sporting events across the world, and alerting you within seconds of Wayne Rooney scoring a goal in stoppage-time at Old Trafford. You’d be amazed at the systems that are in place to get this goal-event updated on the web site and the notifications pushed out to mobile users. Then imagine the challenge on a Saturday afternoon when there’s several hundred football matches taking place across Europe; that’s a huge amount of data to process and push out to sports fans; all within seconds…
This team also have the challenges of bringing you breaking news of the latest sports headlines; with Football Transfer Deadline day being one of the big days in the year when millions of sports fans from across the world are following all the latest transfer news. The huge traffic demands on the Sky Sports Digital platform is a constant challenge for the team, so optimizing and streamlining is a constant focus.
What other work takes place in Leeds?
Sky’s Online Customer Service Technology Team is also based in Leeds. This team is responsible for the customer self-service tools on the Sky.com website; the Help and Support pages, the area of the website where you manage your account and view your bill, the system to report a broadband fault as well as the Sky Service App.
Customer Service means everything to us at Sky. With a constantly growing customer-base, it’s essential we give people the tools, the help and the information in order to resolve their query.
How do you think our people working in Tech in Leeds would describe the way they are expected to work here?
The Sky Technology Teams in Leeds all work to an Agile product delivery methodology; with a clear focus on delivering to the end-users’ needs, with regular product changes being pushed out the live platform.
We use Scrum and Kanban processes, depending on the needs and demands of the particular team, with every sprint having an agreed goal for all members of the team. This approach keeps everyone focused on what’s important and minimizes any waste in the team.
Technology teams work hand-in-hand with the Product Owners; we are very-much focused on a collaborative approach where the team succeeds or fails together. We don’t have a blame-culture, we’ve got no time for that as we’re all focused on doing the right thing for the Sky customer.
How would you describe the culture – what is it for you that makes Sky a great place to work?
At Sky everyone is empowered, and we want our colleagues to feel they really can make a difference. We want people to be creative, suggest new ways of working and new tools, and innovate around technology; we are constantly looking at ways to improve the things we do. This means that when a suggestion is made we never outright say “no”. We’ll give people the opportunity to trial and prototype new ideas, and work will colleagues across the team in order to see if this is an idea we want to turn into our standard way of operating.
Working together is key to us; we want people to share their successes and failures across the team so everyone can learn and move forward as a team.
The great thing about working for Sky in Leeds is that it gives you the environment to achieve your potential. …
Want to find out more? Follow the link above
We now declare these Skills Studio open...
Sky News journalist Kay Burley and pupils from Newbattle High School recently officially launched our brand new Sky Academy Skills Studio in Livingston
Sky Academy Skills Studios is a free, interactive learning experience, linked to the school curriculum, which builds life skills in the young people who attend.
Students will be able to create their own TV report about a subject they are studying at school using Sky’s state-of-the-art technology, including broadcast-quality cameras, green screens and touch-screen edit tables.
The Skills Studios in Livingston is available for use by students aged 8 to 18 from schools across Scotland and aims to welcome 12,000 young people each year.
Sky News HD’s Kay Burley was proud to be asked to cut the ribbon and was hugely impressed by the facilities on offer. “The Studios are a great asset for school pupils across Scotland, introducing them to the world of the media while helping them to build highly valuable life skills. It has been great to meet the pupils from Newbattle High School and get a first-hand view of how much an experience like this can impassion and inspire young people.”
Bob Foley, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Newbattle High School, added: “Some of our pupils were lucky enough to visit the Sky Academy Skills Studios in London which was an amazing experience, so I am thrilled we now have an equally impressive facility here on our doorstep and honoured that our pupils had a leading role to play in its launch.”
Since the launch of the first Sky Academy Skills Studios in West London in 2012, more than 30,000 students have taken part, helping them to build important skills including communication, creativity and team work.
Meet Ricardo, Software Developer
Ricardo Mallols, one our great people at Sky, is a Software developer in the NOW TV Web Team. He tells us what he loves about his job, and what Sky shows he watches the most:
What’s the best thing about your job? I love to work with highly talented people, building a sophisticated product
Top three things about working at Sky? It the quality of the product we’re building, the people and the infrastructure.
Describe your role in one word: Builder.
What’s your favourite thing about your week? Deliver new features to the people to make their life easier.
What’s your favourite Sky show? Ted’s notebook, from Sky Sports F1.
You’re on a desert island, what’s the one box set you want to be watching. Air Jaws Apocalypse.
If you could only watch one Sky channel for the rest of your life what would it be? Sky Sports F1.
If Sky came to you and asked you to make a programme, what would it be? Who would be in it? Great undiscovered movies. I would try to explain why some underground movies such as Megashark vs Crocosaurus are so great :).
What is the first thing you show a new joiner? The skills of the people of the team he’s joining to motivate him to be a better professional.
If you could be any Sky TV Character, which would it be and why? Damon Hill, because of his successful professional career and how cool his current job position is.
An interesting fact/something no one else knows about you? It' d be great to be an engineer on Sky’s F1 broadcasting team even just to serve coffees....
Over 25 colleagues from across Sky have been at the Big Bang Fair in the Birmingham NEC. They've been using Sky technology to inspire young people to pursue careers with tech. Take a look at the gallery above to see how they got on.
One of the main reasons Sky is such a successful brand is because of the technology that makes it all happen. We also know that there is a shortage of young people continuing education in science and maths. So, we took volunteers from across all areas of Technology and Sky Academy to Birmingham to help inspire the next generation.
Heena Harbham, Senior Change Control Analyst, says: “I wanted to work at Sky because it was a huge company that looked like it had plenty of opportunities to progress my career. As Sky are continuously developing and expanding, the Big Bang Fair is the perfect event to promote not only what sort of work options there are available, but also how fun it can be!”
At the Big Bang Fair, our Sky volunteers delivered a range of games and activities for visitors to the event to try their hand at. Graduates from the Software Engineering Academy developed a coding activity for visitors which allowed the young people to develop a new Sky website. And in our production area, students could see the technology used behind a green screen.
By talking to our role models from the business and taking part in our activities, we hope to have inspired the young people attending the event. By being a part of events like the Big Bang Fair, we hope that attendees may either find out more generally about Tech careers, or more specifically apply for one of our Early Careers opportunities either work experience, graduates or apprenticeships.
Are you someone who gets a buzz from science or is tenacious about technology?
Check out the exciting development opportunities we have here at Sky - www.workforsky.com/earlycareers
This week is National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), a chance to shine a spotlight on Apprenticeships across the UK.
We caught up with Priscilla Ossai, Apprentice Software Developer to hear about apprenticeships at Sky.
"Looking back over the past couple of years as an Apprentice Software Developer at Sky, it has been a journey but I can honestly say it has been the most exhilarating 2 years of my life so far. This apprenticeship has provided me with the best way to learn on the job, gain fantastic experience and also receive great qualifications, which could help me further progress my career.
"The application process consisted of a telephone interview, an assessment centre and finally a face-to-face interview which was tough. I was up against several candidates and I felt the pressure. However, it was all absolutely worth it because Sky has provided me with so many highlights and proud moments in my short time working here!
"Not only is it NAW this week, it’s also the Big Bang Fair, the biggest Science and Engineering Fair in the UK and I’m really pleased that Sky is there showcasing the careers available in Technology. Sky has exposed me to a whole new world of technology and work, and I was totally surprised at the length and breadth of roles that are available in the company. There is something for everyone.
"Now, coming towards the end of my amazing apprenticeship, I continue to aspire to become the Chief Technology Officer at Sky one day. I have my foot in the door and I’m prepared to work hard to get to where I want to be.
"If you know someone who would be interested in an apprenticeship at Sky, then we have a range of Customer Service roles opening next week.
"If my experience is anything to go by, they will absolutely love it!"