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A diverse and disruptive talent pool

Callum Elsdon
BT Apprenticeship, BT Media & Broadcast

Diverse and disruptive – how the next generation of talent is making its mark in broadcasting

Callum Elsdon is a fourth year Degree Apprentice currently part of the Media Networks product management team, focussing on our global network solutions and working closely with our Asia-based teams. He recently won the Highly Commended status at the 2019 London Regional Apprentice Awards, organised and hosted by the UK Government's Education and Skills Funding Agency. Outside of work, Callum loves travelling to far flung locations, cooking and Korean pop music.

I’ve had the honour and privilege to be on BT’s Media & Broadcast Degree Apprenticeship programme for just over three years now, and with 9 months left until I graduate, I thought it would be great to reflect on what has without doubt been my best year since joining the organisation.  As one of the top providers of broadcast networking globally and one of the UK’s biggest investors in R&D, we’re not afraid to go beyond limits in driving innovation and adopting bleeding edge technology.

To name but a few, we’ve had some truly brilliant examples of these advancements over the past 12 months:

  • One of the world's first 8K live sports broadcasts
  • The highest ever specification English Premier League match broadcast in 4K UHD, HDR and Dolby Atmos (trust me when I say this was hair-raisingly and spine-tinglingly great to experience!)
  • International remote production utilising 5G from three different stadiums in the UK via Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • The UK's first ever live TV broadcast over 5G for BBC Breakfast
  • As well as the recent brand refresh for BT - seeing our vision and aspirations re-energised for the new decade and beyond.

Early talent schemes are a valuable entry point for enabling the best and brightest to help fuel our dynamic and growing business further– as well as giving people from all walks of society greater opportunities to thrive in major business.

Experiencing the kind of industry-changing activities that we’re driving and can be involved in is hugely motivating. It gives you a taster of what we can one day expect to lead in. And the great news is, 2020 is shaping up to be an even more amazing year for us and our customers.  We’re making a multi-million-pound investment into our next generation media network, increasing adoption of industry leading technology across our portfolio alongside next level security capability and expanding our global footprint -  something that I’m driving in my current role in the product management team.

I’ve benefitted enormously from the degree apprenticeship scheme at BT. Currently I’m focussed on supporting the product management of our Global Media Network but previously I’ve been across our Outside Broadcast product, marketing and even the helpdesk! These experiences have enabled me to gain an end to end understanding of our business, which would never be achieved through formal education alone. The pleasure of this scheme is having the opportunity to experience both sides of the coin – valuable experience and a full university degree. BT have worked with Ravensbourne University, London, to build a degree that is built with the future of our industry in mind – with a focus on building technical network skills that sit alongside our experience of the broadcast industry in the workplace.

This came to fruition in my dissertation which focussed on the impact of over-the-top services on UK broadcasters, enabling me to take some of my technical understanding from university, use contacts I’ve built through the workplace and analysing this to create a comprehensively researched, grade A piece of work. Simply attending traditional university would have made it far harder to have done this same analysis in such a comprehensive manner. Together, apprenticeships can give the next generation of talent a perfect introduction into the broadcast industry using university studies to build a strong foundation of understanding networks and IP but using our day-to-day work to immerse ourselves in this dynamic, changing and ground-breaking sector.

We’ve been joined by new apprentices and graduates across the business and in 2020 we will grow the early talent community to be its biggest ever in Media & Broadcast history. From personal experience, I am a clear advocate for these programmes which truly benefit both BT and the individuals on the scheme. These schemes ensure that a new wave of talent comes into the business bringing benefits like:

  • Sharing of knowledge from existing people in the team
  • Enabling greater diversity of ideas and viewpoints
  • Learning and development opportunities in the form of fully funded technical network degrees for apprentices and professional training across the board
  • Valuable work experience across Media & Broadcast as well as wider BT.

As my graduation draws closer, my next step is to move into a role than can harness my experiences from the programme to its greatest ability for the benefit of Media & Broadcast and my career progression. And, most importantly, I look forward to a little rest at the weekends after 4 years of studying!

Media & Broadcast's current cohort of Apprentices and Graduates

Media & Broadcast's current cohort of Apprentices and Graduates

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