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Connecting women and opportunity

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Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

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Why we must show girls that there’s a place for them in technology careers

Hayley O'Toole, Live Capture Supervisor at ITV

Hayley O'Toole

Hayley O’Toole is a live capture supervisor at ITV, leading a team of four. The Live Capture team delivers ITV’s live content to ITV Hub and other video-on-demand platforms. Hayley studied media at college in Huddersfield before going on to achieve a first-class BA Honours Degree in Media and Film Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Hayley O'Toole
Hayley O’Toole

“It’s vitally important that girls are equipped for technology careers so they’re not at a disadvantage.”

The power of work experience

I found myself on a broadcast media career path by accident. Around ten years or so ago now when I was in college I was on a performing arts course, but I quickly realised that that was not my cup of tea, so I switched to media studies on a whim. Then fast forward to university in Manchester, I took a degree in film and media. That’s where it all began for me.

A few years after that, I was trying to get my foot in the door and was looking for work experience opportunities, and I came across work experience in Content Delivery at ITV. So, I did that work experience back in 2017 and then in 2018 I was invited back to join a brand-new team in the department, the Live Capture team. I’m now supervising that team. I was promoted to senior in 2019, and then a supervisor in 2020 and I now manage a team of four.

Bringing content to catch up devices all over the world

Content Delivery is essentially ITV’s in-house content services provider. Any ITV content that you see on your screens or your catch-up devices all over the world is processed through our department. 

What I do, specifically as supervisor of the live capture team, is to oversee the capture and delivery of all of ITV’s live content, and we deliver that to catch-up platforms and ITV Hub. So, for example, if you missed Love Island, and you were desperate to catch up on tonight’s episode, we’re the ones working really hard to get that up online as quickly as possible.

We’re recording a live feed, so if we get notified of or if we spot anything ourselves such as swearing or anything offensive that shouldn’t be there we can cut that out straight away before it goes on to any online platforms. We’ve had quite a lot of swearing during the recent FA Cup games, for example.

Subtitling is done by another department but one of our jobs is to check that any sort of priority content which is online has subtitling.

A more flexible ‘normal’

Football matchCOVID impacted us in a few ways. One of the main ways was that we work to get a lot of live shows online, but when the pandemic hit and all that went out the window because the live shows stopped being produced, so all your live daytime shows and live sport. They couldn’t produce them anymore because of all the restrictions at the time.

We also work on the soaps, Coronation Street and Emmerdale as well, stitching in adverts for Sky and Virgin platforms, and for a period of time, they stopped filming as well. So, that had quite an impact on us because, for a period of time, we didn’t have any shows to cover, which was quite weird.

Thankfully, we work in a department that is really collaborative so we were able to work on other projects, while that was all going on. Thankfully, it’s all pretty much back to normal now as we’ve got all our big live shows back — I’m a Celebrity, Love Island, and all that sort of stuff. So yes, I’m glad to see that all back to normal pretty much now. 

Secondly, despite all the awful impacts of COVID, I would say it has had a positive impact as well because we always thought we couldn’t do our job from home because it involves a lot of editing, and there are restrictions on what we can access from home. But thankfully, during the pandemic we were able to change the way we worked so we could remote onto our computers, so now we can do pretty much every aspect of our job from home.

This has really improved our work-life balance, and particularly in my team, because we’re the only team or department that works seven days a week. We work from seven in the morning and the late shift finishes at 11:30pm so it’s been really good that we can work from home sometimes, and it’s had a really positive impact on us in that way.

Working hard to deliver content

We try and get the content up as quickly as we can really because people are viewing content so differently now.

Mobile phonePeople don’t have to rush home to make sure they don’t miss the start of a programme now because they can just watch it on catch up. People are viewing content totally differently now on their phones and tablets, catching up wherever they want to, so our working hours allow us to capture the programme as it’s broadcast meaning we have it online as soon as possible.

We get really big views on the ITV Hub for some shows in particular, like Love Island, which is one of those shows where you know the viewers are hooked because it’s in summer, they might be out and about doing stuff. We get that programme up as quickly as we can, probably ten or fifteen minutes after it’s finished broadcasting so it’s ready when they get home to catch up. This means they don’t miss out on all the social media conversations about it and they’re not seeing spoilers.

Shining a spotlight on tech careers

I think it’s really important to mark days like International Girls in ICT Day on 28th April because the skills that you learn in ICT play a huge role in any future career you might find yourself in, particularly now because technology is evolving so quickly.

It’s vitally important that girls are equipped for technology careers so they’re not at a disadvantage. It’s essential to have a day where we’re bringing attention to it, because we want to show girls that tech industry careers are appealing to them. We want to show them what exciting opportunities exist and that there’s definitely a place for them.

We want to inspire them to see themselves taking on a career in STEM. It’s really powerful to have girls’ and women’s voices in this industry to offer their perspectives.

To be honest, I didn’t actually know International Girls in ICT Day existed until I was researching for this article. When I was a girl at school, I wouldn’t have even considered anything like working in ICT, it just didn’t really seem like an option. For me, it was never brought to the table but I think it’s essential to show that it’s an option for everyone.

This year I will be raising awareness on social media, probably on LinkedIn. We have a diversity and inclusion team at work so I think it’s something I’ll be bringing forward to discuss with them to get different opinions on it. We need to be shouting about this!

Rise up

I did the Rise mentorship and programme last year so I’m looking forward to putting into practice everything I’ve learned from that and to being involved in any events that come up. I’m also hopefully going to be going to the Media Production Show with my Content Delivery team colleagues, so I’m really looking forward to getting properly involved with networking opportunities.

Personally, I’m looking forward to just making the most of things getting back to normal and attending gigs and festivals.

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