Graduate opportunities at Sky

Sky is the UK's leading entertainment and home communications company. Hannah Langworth has been investigating the exciting opportunities on offer

Case study

You might have already heard about NOW TV, but why and how did Sky launch this new service?

The launch of NOW TV

In July 2012 Sky launched an exciting new product. NOW TV is a brand new online TV service, offering people an easy and flexible way to access Sky content through their internet connection. NOW TV is available across a range of devices, and offers access to Sky Movies - the UK's most popular subscription movies service - with no contract, set-up costs or installation. Alongside Sky Movies, Sky Sports is due to launch on the service before the end of 2012.

The launch of NOW TV builds on Sky's strong track record of innovation and an appetite to take on new challenges. Both of which attracted Louisa Taylor to working at the company. "Sky is always evolving," she says. "Since I've worked here, we've launched an F1 channel, Sky Atlantic, Sky Go and an on-demand TV service. We're always developing new products and offering customers more ways to enjoy our content, whether at home or on the move."

From idea to implementation

Louisa, one of the 23,000 people Sky employs in the UK, is a Planning Manager in Sky's Strategy Group. "We're like an in-house strategy consultancy," she says. "Strategy seeks out new business opportunities for Sky and collaborates with people from many other sections of the business to develop and implement them." The Strategy Group works on projects across Sky's operations. "From bringing our customers the best content to developing new technologies," says Louisa, "- there's a very broad range of areas you can work on."

Louisa has been closely involved in NOW TV right from the start. "The Strategy Group wanted to find the best way to offer Sky's services to consumers who don't yet take a traditional pay TV product," she says. Noting the ever-increasing popularity of watching TV over the internet, they decided to build on the success of Sky's existing internet TV service for subscribers, Sky Go, to create a new online TV product: "We felt we could offer something distinctive," says Louisa. "We've got outstanding content and the trust of consumers, who know that a product from Sky will be innovative, but also reliable."

Once it was clear that a new internet service was the way forward, it was time to get to work on the details. "We thought about every aspect of what the product would be like," says Louisa, "which involved lots of customer research - finding out exactly what customers were looking for." But taking NOW TV from an idea to a viable part of Sky's business wasn't just down to the Strategy Group, of course. Sky's finance department was another team that played a crucial role.

Backbone of the business

Sita Shah is a Financial Analyst in Sky's finance team who, like Louisa, was closely involved with the launch of NOW TV. "As in any business," says Sita, "finance is a hugely significant part of the company's operations." The finance team at Sky work at the heart of things right across the business, from Sky's relations with its investors, to overseeing operations, to supporting business decisions - which is where their work on the launch of NOW TV fits in.

Sita collaborated closely with the Strategy Group on the business case for NOW TV. "Finance is the backbone of every single business decision we make," she says, "so we were key to the evaluation of the plans for NOW TV." So why did Sita and the rest of the finance team think launching NOW TV made financial sense? Sita explains: "NOW TV is a new way for us to meet the needs of customers, using the infrastructure that we already had in place for Sky Go, and gives access to a comprehensive Sky Movies library of films, from recent releases to favourite classics."

Sita and the finance team were also critical to the process of bringing NOW TV to launch: "We were involved in determining its prices and reviewed contracts with suppliers to make sure we were getting value for money," Sita explains. "More broadly," she continues, "I think one of our most important roles was to help analyse how business decisions around the new service would affect its revenue and future profits."

Working together

Of course it wasn't just the strategy and finance teams that brought NOW TV to life. "It involved a lot of other teams too," says Louisa. "We worked closely with Marketing to ensure we had a product they thought was right for our customers, and also with Technology to really understand how long it would take to deliver the new service and at what cost." "One thing I really enjoy in my role at Sky," adds Sita, "is getting to work with so many other areas of the business."

With NOW TV successfully up and running, both Louisa and Sita agree that they loved the challenge of building the new service. "While working on NOW TV I'd come into work and learn something new every single day, from how to negotiate deals more effectively to details of the technicalities of streaming content," says Sita. Louisa, meanwhile, highlights the feeling of achievement she got from helping to create something new that had a real impact: "I saw NOW TV come from an idea, to launching, to being a service I saw my family and friends using."

Finance Programme

Jasdeep is on Sky's Finance Programme for graduates

Can you introduce yourself?

I have a BA in Accounting and Finance from Nottingham Trent University, though you don't need to have a finance-related degree to get onto the Finance Programme. I joined Sky six months after graduating and have been here for 18 months now.

Why did you choose a career in finance? Why Sky?

I was interested in finance from a really young age. My dad has his own business and I used to go with him to visit his accountant, which first sparked my interest in the area. Also, I've always had an interest in numbers and a logical mind. So finance seemed like the right career for me.

I wanted to join Sky because I wanted to work somewhere I could identify with. I felt like I already knew a lot about Sky through using its services at home and the fact that it's a fun, forward-thinking organisation suits me - people are always interested when I say I work for Sky! The other thing I really like about Sky is that it's very successful and ambitious - it's the market leader in pay TV, while also experiencing great success in other areas like Sky Broadband and Sky Talk.

How is the Finance Programme structured?

It's a three-year programme with three 12-month placements that give you exposure to different areas of Sky's business. Typically you'll spend one year looking at the company's overall financial position, one year supporting the teams providing Sky's services to customers and advertisers, and one year in one of Sky's content teams, for example, Sky Entertainment, Sky Movies or Sky News. When placing you, they'll take into account your preferences, and they'll also consider what skills you need to develop, as well as the needs of the business.

As part of the Finance Programme you study part-time towards the CIMA management accountancy qualification. Sky funds our studies and also gives us plenty of study leave to revise for exams.

After the three years, once you've passed all of your exams, you qualify as an accountant and are promoted within Sky to a Financial Analyst role.

What does your role involve?

I'm in Sky Broadband and Talk, working with the Operations Teams. I help to set budgets and control what we spend on Sky projects - I've recently worked on the Wi-Fi Cloud project, where we're providing free Wi-Fi to Sky customers. I help to make sure the team stick to their budgets and try to spot any possible costs savings. I have plenty of responsibility - generally I'm given end objectives and asked to work to achieve them as I see fit, but with the support of my manager. I also have lots of commercial exposure through, for example, attending meetings.

What have you learnt so far?

I've learnt how to communicate effectively with people across the business and build new working relationships. I think my confidence has increased and I've improved my ability to think on my feet through experiences like having to answer questions from senior people about my work and give presentations. I've also learnt to manage my time so I can fit in work, studying and my social life.

What are your ambitions for your future at Sky?

Sky's a great place to build a career. A lot of the senior people at Sky started here as graduates and I'm hoping to follow in their footsteps.

Strategy Group Programme

What's working in Sky's Strategy Group all about?

Sky's Strategy Group is like an in-house consulting firm, but one which has a closer relationship with Sky's business teams than external consultants have with their clients. The Strategy Group works closely with Sky's senior executives to ensure Sky is on track to achieve its goals, and to shape the future direction of the business, making sure it's up to speed with the rapid changes in the media industry. And that it maintains and builds on its position as the UK and Ireland's leading media and telecoms company.

You might find yourself assessing growth opportunities in new markets and with new technologies, analysing what Sky's competitors are doing, or considering what Sky's response should be to proposed new government regulation of the media industry.

Who's suited to this programme?

For this programme, Sky is looking for those with a 2:1 or above, preferably in a degree which included some maths or economics. You'll also need a strong interest in business and, in particular, a passion for all things Sky. to be someone who enjoys identifying business problems and delivering solutions. Doing so involves thinking about the bigger picture and looking closely at the details, so you should be comfortable doing both. You'll also need strong communication and teamwork skills.

What might I work on?

On the scheme you'll start off by working in the Strategy Group to learn key skills and to get to know the team. You'll then do a rotation to a key business unit within Sky which matches your interests and career aims, and where you'll learn more about Sky and gain some further new skills. You'll then return to the Strategy Group to get involved in a major piece of work.

The Strategy Group's recent projects have included the Premier League rights auction, working out the optimal pricing for Sky's TV packages, launching Sky Atlantic and, of course, NOW TV (see the case study opposite for more details).

What will I learn?

You'll have plenty of training from day one, which will help you to develop core strategy consulting skills, such as structured analysis, research, financial modelling, and report and presentation writing.

What else is on offer for graduates at Sky?

Sky Bet Sports Trader Programme

What's Sky Betting & Gaming all about?

Sky Betting & Gaming is one of the fastest growing online betting companies around. Over 350,000 customers placed a sports bet with them last year.

Who's suited to this programme?

Sky is looking for graduates with a 2:1 or above who are creative problem-solvers with strong mathematical abilities and an interest in sport. You'll have a can-do attitude, plenty of determination, and will be able to give examples of where you've exceeded expectations.

What could I get out of this programme?

On this programme you could be using your maths and trading skills to calculate odds offered to customers, or to manage Sky Betting & Gaming's risk positions. You could also play a role in structuring new products, or analysing profitability. Whatever you do, you'll be helping to shape a business in its formative stages which is developing all the time.

Sky Bet Gaming Programme

Describe Sky's Betting & Gaming business?

Sky Betting & Gaming consists of four core brands: Sky Bet, Sky Vegas, Sky Poker and Sky Bingo and also encompasses the UK's leading online odds comparison site, Oddschecker.

Who's suited to this programme?

Sky is looking for graduates with a 2:1 or above in a mathematical or scientific subject who are passionate about the online gaming industry. You'll have a can-do attitude, plenty of determination, and will be able to give examples of where you've exceeded expectations.

What could I get out of this programme?

On this programme you could find yourself analysing gaming trends and coming up with solutions to improve Sky's offering in this area. You could also be working on developing new products. Whatever you do, you'll be helping to shape a business in its formative stages which is developing all the time.

Sky IQ Analytics Programme

What's Sky IQ all about?

Sky IQ helps other business units at Sky and external clients engage better with their customers. The team provides a range of consultancy services which help clients measure, target and maximise their marketing spend through insightful thinking and the use of powerful data tools.

For more information about Sky IQ, visit

Who's suited to this programme?

Sky is looking for mathematically-minded graduates with a 2:1 in any subject, plus some relevant experience. You'll also need to have a real interest in marketing, good commercial instincts and problem-solving skills.

What could I get out of this programme?

On this 12-month programme you'll rotate around four key areas of Sky IQ, including supporting our external clients and working with teams within Sky. You'll develop an understanding of the clients and their needs, and of how to deliver the products and services that will empower them.