Nigel – Deputy Technical Director
Who or what inspired you to become an engineer?
I always wanted to work at the BBC. I found the idea of being on the air with the transmission light on all very exciting. When I got to work at my first Olympics games I realised that it was a world-wide event with an even bigger audience and found that really interesting. It is always a challenge making sure that everything is working properly and that the broadcasters from all of the different countries are happy as they are the ones paying the money.
What does your typical day at the Olympic Media Centre involve?
It depends where we are in the procedure. In the run up to the games it is all about testing all of the equipment to make sure that it will all work properly when required. Once the Olympics begin we have to keep an eye on everything and make sure that the transmissions all run smoothly. We also have to be ready to switch between feeds so that the picture you see at home is a smooth transition between the event, athlete interview and presenter round-up.
The working hours are usually from 7am until 1am (depending on what time the last event in the day finishes). This is split into 2 people working on the early shift, 2 on the late, and the others covering shifts in the middle.
Where do you normally work?
I normally work at BBC Television Centre with secondments to the Olympics or other major events.
What do you love about your job and what would you change?
I love it when it all runs smoothly and the team is working well together. The negative sides of the job are when something goes wrong and you have to take it off the air.
What qualifications did you need for this role?
Work experience is essential! I did my A-levels to get into the BBC, and from there they assisted me through technical college to do a HND in electronics.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Take an interest in technology. The best subjects are physics and maths to get you into broadcasting. Electronics would be beneficial to specialise in.
It is important to note that you should not go too far down the computer software line as not everything in broadcasting is computing. Broadcast engineering is more to do with learning how programmes are put together and the equipment required to do it.
Would you say you have a good standard of living/work-life balance?
Yes! Shifts are common across the industry, but once you are used to the long days it reduces the amount of travelling and commuting you have to do as you have to work fewer days. This can be very good for family life as you can be there when required to do the school run!
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax?
I enjoy walking, sailing, DIY and gardening.
What has been your best Olympic moment so far in London 2012?
I was lucky enough to be able to go into the stadium the evening when Team GB won 3 gold medals in fairly quick succession with Jessica Ennis winning the heptathlon, Greg Rutherford the long jump and Mo Farah the 10km. It was a very special evening (but very loud too!)
What will you take away from your experience of working at the Olympic Media Centre during the London 2012?
I will look back on it and remember the remarkable team work and friendships within the team. People have come to work here from all over Europe and we all pull together for a fortnight before going back to our own countries and working lives again.
What would you most like young people to know about what you do?
I think it has to be the job satisfaction. Everyone is interested in the Olympics and is interested in the product that you are producing. This makes you feel important even though you are only a small part of the whole event.
If you were an athlete for a day, which sport would you compete in?
I would love to be an Olympic rower – it is certainly the best sport to watch in my opinion so why not!
With thanks to Nigel Phillips for providing Future Morph access into the International Broadcast Centre and providing all of the ‘behind the scenes’ information required.