Sky’s Internal communications manager Mark Tittle tells us how he landed his job.
Sometimes we end up doing a job we never thought we would. Probably because we just didn’t know the job we did actually existed. Take Mark Tittle, for example. When he was younger, his plan – if becoming the fifth member of Scooch didn’t work out – was to become a teacher. But his life journey took him in a very different direction, becoming Internal communications manager. Here, Mark reveals how he landed a job that he never thought he’d do and why he discovered that staying in the closet at work didn’t work for him.
So Mark, you work for Sky, but what exactly do you do?
I work for Sky doing internal communications, change and engagement. Internal comms teams help employees understand what an organisation is all about – what’s happening, why decisions have been made and what it all means for people. I’m currently working with our property team running a programme to get 7000 people ready for (and excited about) moves into buildings on our brand new campus in West London this summer.
What exactly is it that you do on a day to day basis?
A mix of planning, writing strategies, advising leadership teams, interviewing people for stories, running events, prepping presentations, managing websites. It’s pretty varied. And fun!
How did you land the job?
I don’t think anyone grows up thinking ‘You know what – I want to work in internal comms’. You grow up wanting to be a footballer, a fireman or the next big pop star, no? (Or in my case, the fifth member of Scooch.) Personally, I’d always wanted to be a teacher and did a degree in French and linguistics where I spent a year living in Paris working in primary and high schools teaching English. It was an amazing time and I loved it, but my colleagues – a fair bit older than me and who’d done it for years – were frustrated with the education system. Which got me thinking if it were the same for teachers in the UK, I could probably make a bigger difference if I got in ‘at the centre’ where the decisions were being made.
So what did you do?
So back home (after a brief stint working at Disneyland, thus ensuring my vocab covered important stuff like all the Disney characters’ French names) when it came to look for jobs, I turned to the public sector and got onto the National Graduate Development Programme (ngdp.org.uk) which is like a fast-track programme for local government. As part of my training with Suffolk County Council, I spent six months in our internal comms and engagement team where I got to meet and advise lots of people at all different levels on how to land their message in the best way, manage big events that brought staff and the community together, be a reporter for our county-wide magazine… and loads more. It was creative, fun, exciting, and – alongside working as a Special Constable – made me feel I was actually doing something that had meaning.
So you had finally found your feet.
Yes. But delightful as Ipswich was, after a couple of years I set my sights on the bright lights of London and got a job helping to set up the new internal comms team at Ofsted – so I finally got to work with teachers – before being offered a deputy head of department role at the Department of Health. I spent nine months there before finally deciding to dip my toe in the private sector. That’s when I joined Carphone Warehouse, which was a turning point.
In what way?
Carphone was my first experience of the private sector and was some of the most exciting, fastest-paced stuff I’d done at the time. It was a pretty big culture change too: my first day was an all-day party at Kensington Roof Gardens where I had to do karaoke with my new team in front of about 200 people having been force-fed Prosecco and cocktails. Possibly not my finest moment.
Sounds like hard work! Was it an easy journey or were there obstacles, especially as a gay man?
I’ve been really fortunate to have had loads of great experiences with lots of companies. Being gay in itself hasn’t necessarily been an obstacle but I think early on it was always on my mind. When I came out ten or so years ago, attitudes were a little different. My parents had told me to keep it quiet in case it affected my career, so I definitely kept that part of my life hidden to many people for a long time (although my annual Eurovision parties probably made it pretty obvious.). But looking back, I would now say that by not bringing your ‘full self’ to work, it affects what you do because you’re always putting all your energy into being something you’re not, rather than your job. So one of the biggest obstacles was me – and having the confidence to just be me to everyone.
You’re involved in a Sky LGBT network now aren’t you?
So I’ve headed up the LGBT@Sky staff network for the last couple of years now. There’s currently around 270 members from right across the UK, and we have monthly meetings to talk about upcoming activities like Pride or LGBT History Month and how we’ll support as a group, new policies we’re being asked to advise on, or plan social events. We’ve got a plan based on three core areas – supporting our LGBT staff, making a positive different for our customers community, and being industry leaders for promoting equality.
That’s very admirable. It must be hard work on top of everything else you do.
It’s all voluntary and it’s early days (so we don’t have a Exec sponsor or a budget yet) but we’ve done some great stuff – took part in our biggest coordinated Pride season ever, updated our People Survey to include a ‘trans’ gender option, grown the community by over 100 in a couple of years, run our first networking events, started joining up with Sky’s LGBT networks in Europe and entered the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index to name but a few.
So LGBT issues are important to you, then.
Yes. I’m also on the Steering Group for InterMediaUK, a network where LGBTers from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Discovery, MTV and any other media/creative organisations can come together to socialise, share best practice from work, and talk about experiences of being gay in the industry. Again, fairly early days as we’re a new team looking after the network, but it’s great to be part of something that reaches across the whole sector.
What’s the hardest thing about your job?
Internal comms is quite a new profession and it can be quite hard explaining what you do to people who quite often don’t ‘get it’ and think you’re there to write emails for them or ‘make a presentation look nice’.
What makes it so fulfilling?
Every day is different. It’s incredibly creative and you get to do loads of fun stuff. Right now, I’m working on interviews, running events, building an exhibition area and planning tours for 7000 people of a brand new building, for example.The nature of the role also means that you get to hear about and see loads of stuff before anyone else, and you’ll quite often be working with directors and Chief Execs directly at a fairly young age, advising them on how to land their message in the best way. And when you reach out and talk to people about what they’ve read or experienced and they tell you that they now understand what’s going on and why – that’s a nice feeling.
What advice would you give to others?
Get experiences in lots of different roles – there might be something out there you never knew existed but which turns out to be your perfect job.
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