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Meet the… managing director

TVBEurope sits down for an executive perspective with Ben Blomfield, managing director, UK & EMEA, TMT Insights

Talk us through an average day in your role.

I took the role at TMT Insights as it was an opportunity to expand a business into EMEA with a team comprised of industry-leading talent. Who’s culture is founded on building a secure working environment where everyone feels safe to ask questions, state opinions, and even disagree.

I knew that no two days would be the same, but understanding the culture and talent of TMT, combined with my passion for people, collaboration, and innovation, has enabled me to help drive our clients to think bigger and accelerate their success, so I tackle each day as it comes in the knowledge that I’m fully supported. 

Software development and professional services, with a particular focus on the media supply chain, are at the heart of what we do. Given this varied nature, each day can bring a different challenge. For example, it could involve overseeing contractual negotiations for new product implementation projects to managing the operational delivery of enterprise-scale live streaming and VoD platforms for global media brands. It could be planning trade shows and developing new business opportunities. On the flip-side, I could be running payroll and making sure our quarterly VAT reports are filed accurately. It’s incredibly varied, which makes it so enjoyable.

How did you get started in the media industry?

Being dyslexic, going to school was never my thing, so at 17, I got a job as a runner at VTR, a leading post-production company in Soho. I moved through the ranks, from making tea to becoming an assistant editor, working for and guided by Dave Cadle, an industry legend, who went on to found the hugely successful Envy group.

The company was well-regarded for producing high-end work that pushed the boundaries of what was possible using the latest technology. I started there just as the first wave of digital technology, such as Sony D1, Quantels Hal & Henry, was beginning to emerge. As a result, I had the opportunity to work on some of the most iconic TV ads and pop promos of the early ’90s. For a 17-year-old, it was the most exciting place in the world.

This experience of combining high-end technology with creative brilliance overlayed with a strong work ethic of working hard to get results and being a decent person to everyone I encountered, helped lay the foundations for who I am today. I’ve worked across the globe in various roles in TV production, live sport, interactive, and multimedia. That led me into technology and operational management, leadership and consultancy roles for ITV, BBC Studios and Discovery.

What training did you have before entering the industry?

Everything I learned was on the job to start with. I was surrounded by the best equipment and the most innovative operators, all willing to show the next generation the ropes. Back then, the Post Production industry was founded on the apprenticeship model. In some cases, it still is, but the qualification to get through the door nowadays is higher.

Hard graft, a positive attitude and a bit of luck go a long way. However, having a higher education qualification shouldn’t be a prerequisite for getting into the industry. Nowadays, we are lucky enough to have the likes of Rise, the award-winning global advocacy organisation supporting gender diversity across the media technology sector. They are also doing outstanding work in making our industry more accessible to the next generation.

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

I’ve worked in media in some shape or form for the best part of my adult life. Because of that, like any industry, it’s seen me at my very best and worst. It can be the most brilliant and sometimes frustrating business to be part of, but the thing that always grounds me is the people I’ve met. Everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with or meeting loves what they do. It’s an industry that breeds passion (and yes, it’s where I met my wife, who also works in the business). Yes, the technology is inspiring, as is the level of innovation, but taking a step back, if you were to boil it all down, the essence of what we do is to help people tell their stories. The BBC puts it brilliantly, but as an industry, we help to educate, inform and entertain.

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

Understand what you’re getting yourself into. Find out about the people, the culture and what drives and motivates the company. Listen, and never stop learning. Be comfortable with being surrounded by people who know a lot more than you on certain topics. Their mentorship and advice will only help accelerate your understanding of new subjects. Making mistakes is OK; you won’t get it right all the time. If you start working for an SME, get familiar with the internal systems. Be it bookkeeping to project management.