RTS Futures enrolled at the Sky Academy in mid-September, receiving an afternoon of valuable teaching at the broadcaster’s West London headquarters
The visit attracted more than 30 students, recent graduates and people working in an entry-level TV role who benefited from the advice of Sky trainers. Megan Cooper, senior leader at the Sky Academy Careers Lab, organised the event, which included two sessions with Sky talent and a tour of the company’s broadcast facilities and studios.
Sky Sports boxing pundit Spencer Fearon – a former professional fighter whose life went off the rails – drew on his own often difficult experiences in a lively motivational talk.
Having retired from the ring at just 29, Fearon became involved in “crazy stuff’, was shot in the hand and spent a month in jail. On his release, he opened a gym and resolved to make use his of his vast boxing knowledge in the media.
Fearon is now a member of Sky Sports’ boxing commentary team and co-host of its weekly podcast, Toe 2 Toe. “You have to find your passion,” he said. “I made my passion my pay cheque – people now pay me to speak [about] boxing.”
Addressing the RTS Futures audience, Fearon said: “Anything you want, you can have – but you’ve got to graft for it. Know your stuff and be on top of your game.
“The day I woke up [and realised that] I was wasting my talents, everything started to come to me. If I could grab [the opportunity], then so can you.”
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Cooper interviewed Sky head of creative Oli Francis who talked about the benefits of getting a good grounding in TV. He was just 16 when he undertook his first work experience at Sky Sports.
“If I’m being totally honest, no one has ever looked at my degree or grades,” he said. However, the experience Francis gained at Exeter University where he studied history, was invaluable. Francis was sports editor of the student newspaper and also produced content for its TV channel.
After leaving university, Francis worked on ITV’s Rugby World Cup coverage in 2007 and a year later landed his first permanent TV job at Sky Sports, as an editorial assistant on its rugby production team.
He then switched to Formula 1, working as a producer for the broadcaster. “It was an incredible experience travelling the world on the F1 circuit and making loads of fast-turnaround TV with ridiculously wealthy people.” Francis has now taken on a PR role in corporate communications at Sky.
Looking back over the afternoon’s sessions, Cooper praised the RTS Futures visitors: “They’ve been brilliant. Working with thousands of students in the Career Lab over the last couple of years, I’ve seen all types of people. Today’s [visitors] really wanted to be here and showed a desire and passion [for TV].”
The Sky Academy, which launched in 2013, is designed to help primary and secondary school children, students and graduates fulfil their potential. Initiatives include the Careers Lab; work experience and placements; and skills studios where students can make their own content using the latest TV technology.
RTS Futures visited the Sky Academy on 14 September. All photography by Paul Hampartsoumian.