How Sky’s head of young people is making the broadcaster more inclusive
Sky’s head of young people, Nishy Lall, was named Change Maker of the Year at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose for her service in attracting younger generations into the media industry.
Change Maker of the Year, Sky’s Nishy Lall
The Drum’s Change Maker of the Year award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary excellence and innovation for change. At the end of 2022, the accolade was rewarded to Sky’s head of people, Nishy Lall, in recognition of the opportunities she has created for the next generation, through educational and outreach programs.
Lall began her career at Sky in 1998 as a junior member of the finance team. Now, she oversees a portfolio of programs each designed to offer young people direct experience of Sky's various roles. This includes sharing hands-on insight into career opportunities that exist within the media industry and actively reducing gender inequality among young people.
We caught up with Lall on winning the award.
What’s an example of an initiative you’ve introduced in your role that’s been particularly successful?
10 years ago, my team launched Sky Up Academy Studios, an immersive learning experience that places young people center stage as media creators designed to up-skill, inspire and introduce creative industry careers. Since then, we have rolled out different iterations of the experience to make it as far-reaching as possible, including introducing The Edit, an in-classroom news report challenge and Sky Up Academy Studios On Tour, a mobile version of the experience that visits the most isolated and deprived schools across the UK and Ireland.
Sky Up represents Sky’s ambition to have a positive impact on society and tackle digital inequality. Sky Up Academy Studios is just one part of the broader Sky Up three-part initiative which aims to provide support to digitally excluded people through a dedicated £10m fund. We support people to succeed in the digital age, ensuring that those who are most at risk of being digitally excluded are given access to the right skills, technology and connectivity they need to succeed.
Together these programs have already supported over 260k students, with an ambition to reach 250,000 by 2025.
How are you continuing to drive Sky’s initiatives and what is in store for the future?
We want young people to succeed. However, we know there is a growing digital divide and a societal need for digital equity. This is impacting young people and their prospects. Most jobs require an element of digital skills today, so continuing to support educators and young people in developing industry-relevant transferable skills remains the focus for our direction.
We will continue to work with our partners across the country to create new opportunities. We recently held our first Sky Up Tech Grants careers summit in Manchester, where our volunteers provided careers guidance to young people leaving the care system. The nationwide program is also providing grants to young people in Dorset and Gateshead and all 150 participants will be invited to summits in 2023 where careers and wellbeing discussions will be at the heart of the sessions.
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In your role, you strive to help hundreds of young people from under-represented backgrounds to have fulfilling work in the media industry. How can the wider industry do better?
We’ve seen the industry take big steps forward in attracting and onboarding young people from under-represented backgrounds; however, there is a shortfall in developing and maintaining that talent. Companies need to create a trajectory for young people upon entering the business and motivate them by being aspirational but also realistic and helping them with identifying and pursuing their career pathways. Sky will continue to lead the campaign to tackle digital exclusion and we’ll remain focused on creating opportunities for communities across the UK.
What has been your proudest career moment?
There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing young people realize their potential and achieve their dreams. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing our programs at Sky do that on multiple occasions. Nurturing young talent and fostering an environment for success is a passion for me, so seeing Isaac Nartey – who joined my team as a Leader in Sky Up Academy Studios – go on to win a Bafta and now become an Assistant Commissioning Editor at Sky, makes everything I do feel so worthwhile.
What’s your biggest source of inspiration?
Young people, their potential, and their imaginations. There’s nothing more inspiring for me.
Why is it so important to celebrate excellence?
Celebrating excellence and success sends a strong message both to those directly involved and to others in the wider organization and beyond. To celebrate excellence is to cultivate success; it drives motivation, inspires growth, and it builds hope.
The Drum Awards for Marketing EMEA is open for entry. The deadline for entries is March 23.