Success Stories

Neil Cartwright

Neil Cartwright - VOD scheduler

“Write everything down, never go anywhere without a notebook”. Neil’s top tip for new MAMA Youth trainees

What have you been doing since you left MAMA Youth?

I did MAMA Youth five years ago, before that I studied at university but it didn’t go quite how I’d planned. I moved back home and worked in sales but I always wanted to get into television. I worked on an independent film and did some roles as a runner on short productions but was struggling to actually get a foot on the ladder. I heard about MAMA Youth and through a family friend found out more about it. I applied and luckily my sister was living in London at the time so I could live with her whilst I did the scheme.

What did you do at MAMA Youth?

I was Production Manager which was a great experience but I had to figure out a lot as I went. I oversaw all elements of production, I was a bit older than most of the production team so had to help out some of the others on everything from how to write a good email, to how to speak well on the phone – something I learnt through my sales roles. Overseeing the whole production process gave me the best experience seeing the ideas from inception, through production and then into the schedule of the show. It was an invaluable experience. I am indebted to Bob and the team for being able to learn all of it.

What did you do after MAMA Youth?

Through a connection of Bob’s I got a six week contract at Sky. I remember getting the call about the job at a motorway service station near where I live, my Dad and I had pulled into a Wimpy and I got the call about the job, I knew it had been the right decision to do the MAMA Youth programme. The 6 week contract turned into a 6 month and then a 12 month contract as Production Coordinator in the Factual and Ents team. It was there I was the production coordinator for What’s Up’s first show on Sky so I was on the other side of the table. From Sky I went to work at A+E networks initially on maternity cover but then got a permanent job as VOD scheduler. I was able to make use of relationships I’d made at Sky and find a space where I could really develop.

What did you learn at MAMA Youth?

At MAMA Youth I learnt ‘all of it’ – how the industry works, what skills I had, what I hadn’t and what I needed. I learnt when to back myself and to have the confidence in what I know. I still remember at the start of every job to think what will I know in 4 months from now, I learnt so much in that time at MAMA Youth – it’s given me the confidence in new roles to remember I will know what I’m doing soon.

What was the most challenging thing about MAMA Youth?

The most challenging thing about the MYP was working with lots of different people from different backgrounds. I had been in a bit of a bubble in Cheshire and so being in such a diverse team in London took some time to get used to. Understanding the job and having real responsibility, reporting directly to the management team and having to ensure we got a show ready to air that was quite stressful and certainly a challenge. But I quickly learnt what I was capable of and I learnt what I could do and what I needed support with.

Tell me about a typical day in your current job:

My job is all about managing the channels, we look after box set and catch up scheduling. The job involves knowing what’s going out on linear TV, what the priorities are, what’s there to drive ratings, what’s there to drive the brand and then put together the schedule 6 weeks ahead. I put together the schedule for all countries in UK, Europe, Asia and Africa – it’s a lot! I’m responsible for getting more people to watch our on demand content so I work with the marketing team and keep on top of current affairs to ensure our content is relevant. I have a lot of spinning plates as it’s just me and one other person.

What advice would you give to new MAMA Youth trainees?

Listen to everything the staff say. If you’re doing things that are outside your comfort zone then that’s good. Challenge yourself. There will be days when you’ll be furious, or question whether you’re doing the right thing and they’ll be other days when it’s fantastic but there will always be something rewarding.

Always listen to Bob, he’s hard for a reason and help him deliver a quality product to Sky

Don’t expect it all to happen when you leave, it can be hard work getting a job, but work on it full time. Get advice from the team at MAMA Youth, work hard and you’ll get there.

Write everything down, never go anywhere without a notebook.