Mike Colyer

Broadcast Engineer – Formula One

How did you first become interested in STEM as a career?
Over the past few years, I have made a few visits to schools to explain the role and importance of a Broadcast Engineer - and why it's such an important and exciting industry to be a part of. Alas, it was sometimes hard to find time to make plans with schools to lead a workshop or give a speech due to the time-consuming nature of working in the television industry.

Fortunately for me, Terry Marsh of the Royal Television Society highlighted the STEM scheme to me during a conversation we had in London in the summer of 2015. I did my research on the scheme that evening - and was amazed that such a streamlined, time-efficient platform existed for helping the engineers of tomorrow discover the broadcasting world. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of it - especially considering how important sourcing new technical talent is for an industry as volatile and fast-changing as live (and even pre-recorded) TV.

What pathway did you follow to get to where you are?
To get to my current post of working as a Special Cameras Engineer for Formula One Management, I started to think about where I wanted to be when I was in the latter half of my secondary school. I knew I wanted to work in TV - but didn't know wether or not I wanted to work in a strictly creative role, or take a more technical stance - especially as my younger self didn't attain particularly good grades in my GCSEs or A-Levels.

As such, I took a creative course at Ravensbourne University in London when I turned 18 - but as my first year progressed, I grew very envious of the Broadcast Technology students there and so decided to start my university education again - this time on the Broadcast Technology BSc programme. From that point, I took a few jobs in television rental houses, such as Procam in Battersea, who very much took me under their wing and provided me with insight that made what I had learnt at university very much applicable.

After a short while, I had gained the skills and the confidence to not only graduate from my course with first class honours, but be offered to apply for a job through professional networking site 'LinkedIn' for a roll at Formula One Management, where I remain to this day.

What inspires and enthuses you about your work and STEM?
Working in the television technical profession can be very rewarding, if equally challenging. I think a very common misconception is that working in TV is a 'life of glamour' - the days can be long, the stress levels can be very high - but, in my role, for example, when you arrive at the circuit on the morning of the race to hear thousands of fans cheering in excitement of seeing their favourite drivers take to the track - and knowing that you had a hand in making that happen - all of the stress of the time leading up to the moment seems not to matter any more.

Of course, keeping the home audiences on the very edge of their seats is also a massive part of the job - and with technology evolving at the rate it is, every week can see an exciting development come out that it's my responsibility to monitor and decide wether it needs to be added to our story-telling toolkit.

This is where the STEM generation come in - if we're going to keep audiences glued to their seats for years to come, it's imperative to keep the younger generation informed of our great industry and make sure that they are in a position to keep the industry alive and expanding in the not-so-distant future.

What would you tell your 18-year–old self?
The very same thing my former tutors at my secondary school told me when my journey began;
"Work hard, Play hard".

As important as it is to ensure that you focus hard on your studies or building to whichever you trade have chosen - it's important to ensure that you 'Play hard' too. No employer is looking for a robot to work for them - they will judge you on your character. Whilst your young, try and do something new whenever you can. Make new friends - go on adventures - take up a hobby you never thought you would. This is how you develop a strong character for yourself - and it'll make those dreaded job interviews a whole lot easier when the time comes!

 

"It's imperative to keep the younger generation informed of our great industry and make sure that they are in a position to keep the industry alive and expanding in the not-so-distant future."