As part of my role I’m fortunate enough to occasionally travel and spend time with our businesses outside my home base of Singapore, and last week saw me working out of Tokyo, Japan.
We have around 100 people based in Tokyo, with the majority working for our Home Entertainment business. The purpose of my trip was to gain real insight into the challenges of recruiting top talent in this unique market, and to support our local teams in attracting the very best people to join us.
Our Tokyo based HR team, plus one visitor!
And Tokyo in Spring is well worth a visit. I was lucky enough to get to see the end of the famous cherry blossom season, Sakura. This, combined with the vibrancy of a large, diverse and fascinating city, was reason enough to go.
Work however was just as insightful, providing me with a better understanding of the challenges we face in attracting great talent.
One part of the business unique to Japan is the Animé / Local Acquisition division. This team work hard to identify great Animé stories, acquires the Intellectual Property, and works with some amazing production studios to create highly popular series that we then distribute via TV and Blu-ray.
(Our latest hit is Seraph, a story about humanity’s struggle to overthrow its Vampire overlords following a catastrophic epidemic that wipes out every adult on Earth).
Estimates vary, but it’s thought that between 3-5% of the Japanese population speak English. Take into account the fact that last year only 5% of the working population moved jobs; factor in the often very specific skillsets that we require, such as Animé production, and you end up with an extremely limited talent pool! But that bilingual expertise is essential for a lot of our roles as the teams liaise with our International HQ in London and the US teams.
But what a time to be working in Japan! As well as our great slate of content this year, both from an Animé and a film perspective, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has also agreed a deal with Paramount to distribute Paramount’s DVD and Blu-ray discs in overseas markets where Paramount has an office. This includes Japan, and as such creates meaningful benefits to both studios.
2015 is looking to be a great year for our Japanese operations, drive by a fantastic local team and some great content. I look forward to returning to Tokyo soon.
For more information on roles and opportunities in Tokyo, keep an eye on our open roles and further updates on this blog!
I get very enthusiastic about attending training courses, conferences and events. I’ll go to anything I can get my hands on. Partly because it’s good to get out of the office and network with other people in the industry, and partly because I want to learn new things. But somehow I’m always left wondering what did I actually learn, and was it really worth it?
That’s exactly what I’m thinking after an event I attended a couple of weeks ago. It was about how businesses should plan their workforces for the future. Of course, it’s really important for any business to understand where they’re heading and what skills they’ll need when they get there, so I was keen to attend and work out if there were any tips we could use here at NBCUniversal.
I tried to concentrate on the theories that were presented to us, and I focussed really hard on the case studies from other companies who are going through this process right now. But for some reason I just can’t imagine putting most of this stuff into practice and that’s the issue with these types of events – what do we actually get out of them? They’re expensive, take you out of the office for long periods of time and you don’t necessarily get any benefit in return. Thinking back, it’s the same for most of the events I’ve been to in the last few years.
When I got back to the office, I talked to someone in my team who also went on a training course this week and she said pretty much the same thing. Her view was that she hadn’t learnt anything that she didn’t already know. In fact, 6 people were booked on her course but only 2 showed up. So that course didn’t even have the benefit of meeting new people! But hey, maybe I’m just telling you what you already know – that “classroom” learning is no longer the most useful development tool for you or your business.
I was inspired by a new idea today though, when I had a conversation with someone about MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses if you don’t know). Now this sounds really interesting. Fair enough, they don’t give you the face-to-face networking opportunities that might be one of the reasons you’re attending an event, and they definitely don’t get you out of the office for the day. But the learning is in short, sharp bites over a longer period of time and if you don’t find the first hour useful, you can simply skip the rest of it and choose another course.
So I feel a change coming over me. Less of the events I’m used to and more of the new – which means I must have learnt something after all!
You don’t necessarily need to have studied technical subjects at school, as we are looking for individuals who have a passion for technology and a strong commitment to pursuing a career in this area.
In terms of criteria, you will need to:
At the start of the programme, you will work with your Manager to create your personal development plan. The plan focuses on your training and development needs. Beyond that, as part of your two-year development you will attend different training courses which will develop your technical and managerial skill-set and allow you to apply your learning to the day job.
Don’t miss out! Check out the timetable below:
As Talent Acquisition Manager for Asia Pacific, I feel a responsibility. As NBCUniversal International continues to grow across the region, and with what feel like our most exciting years still to come, I will be playing a part in shaping our businesses across Asia to help us achieve our goals. Heady stuff… but these are the challenges that make my role so much fun!
So what is my part to play? I help to attract and hire the very best emerging talent – talent that could eventually shape and define what we look like as an organization. This new talent is disruptive, ambitious and come armed with fresh ideas, a taste for innovation and both eyes firmly on the future. Identifying this talent is the first step.
As part of this journey, I spent this week visiting some of our key partners in Singapore – the Universities and Polytechnics who work with us to supply a pool of exceptional interns and future employees.
For a country of its size, Singapore enjoys a large number of exceptional learning establishments. Not only do they provide courses on the more “traditional” career routes, such as finance, business management and marketing, but they also offer more diverse opportunities, including mass communications, combining elements of journalism, public relations and marketing.
These diplomas are perfect for students wishing to pursue a career in media, advertising, PR, production, corporate communications and more. In addition there are an ever greater number of courses in media and design, including the likes of creative writing for TV & new media, visual effects & motion graphics, and digital animation.
Here at NBCUniversal we consider ourselves story-tellers, creating compelling content that is distributed around the globe. And as our world changes, with ever-increasing pace and diversity in the way consumers watch our content, the next generation of talent will play a key part in our evolution.
So, it’s always a real thrill to visit the Universities and Polytechnics, building relationships with the lecturers, the people who run internship programs, and the folk who partner alumni and MBA graduates, and understand that the talent we need to build our future may well be right here in Singapore.
Whilst the number of students participating in these specialist courses is relatively small, the talent that they produce is exactly what an international organization such as NBCUniversal needs to ensure that we continue to entertain, inform and shape the World.
For us, it’s a very exciting time of year as we welcome applications from hopeful sandwich-year students. It’s great to see so much enthusiasm for the business, and industry. And I think we learn more throughout the interview process than we teach sometimes – Millenials are keyed in to so many new technologies and have fresh, innovative ideas.
But, as someone looking for an internship, how do you decide which are for you? Things to consider might be…
Above all, just ask. Whether or not a particular interview or company is relevant for you, it’s all good knowledge building and a chance to build your network. So speak to people, get the 411, and keep asking questions until you find out what works best for you.
This time last month I was driving home (technically ‘driving home for Christmas’, in fact) eager for the relaxation, fun and inevitable indulgences of the next 14 days to commence. At the very moment my exhausted, pre-Christmas work brain was beginning to wind down for the holidays, I was also attempting to mentally gear up for my new job at NBC Universal, starting in January.
Having never worked in media before, I was as excited about the prospect as I was nervous – it would be totally new, and pretty strange learning a completely new and different industry. However, three weeks after my first day I am starting to understand this (quite complex) business, and already love it.
Once you get to NBC Universal’s office in Central Saint Giles, it is pretty obvious you work within entertainment. From huge cut-outs of various film stars, to screens playing the latest big-release trailers, there’s no mistaking where you are. The other day I walked past a meeting simply titled: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. Why not?
I have joined the International Talent Acquisition team as a Manager for our Theatrical business. The film division is great: there are loads of brilliant releases and interesting things happening this year so it’s been the perfect time to join. What with Pitch Perfect 2, Jurassic World, Fast & Furious 7 and Minions coming up, it’s all systems go. And while you get a bit of an insight at interview, you never really know how much you will get on with the people you’ll end up working with. Fortunately I’ve lucked out at NBCUniversal (and I’m not just saying this for brownie points), everyone’s been really welcoming, fun, and easy to work with.
Last week I spent the day at the CNBC Fleet Street studio. I have never seen a live studio in real life, and it was nowhere near what I expected. At CNBC you effectively have to walk through the studio to go to the loo, you bump into the TV reporters in the office (a gentle reminder to wear more make-up on CNBC visit days), and you can hear the news live from your desk. For someone who has just spent three years working on Slough trading estate, it’s pretty impressive.
Iam trying to think of something to write that will convince you that I am giving a balanced view of my new job and company . The best I can come up with is this; it’s easy to get lost. Today when I arrived for work I got all the way to my desk before realising I was on completely the wrong floor surrounded by a team I definitely didn’t know. They may or may not have been gently laughing at me.
If you hadn’t considered NBC Universal or the entertainment media industry before (as I hadn’t until recently) but get excited by the idea of working for a fast-moving and creative business with fascinating products and hugely talented people, I’d challenge you to consider it.
It’s around this time of year that journalists go into overdrive – trying to predict trends, forecasting big events and imagining new products that will take the world by storm. Even the political campaigns are starting now, a full 5 months ahead of the general election. And in our world of talent and recruitment, we’re trying to work out what our business will need from us in 2015 so we can get one step ahead.
Along with planning our workload for the year, I’m also a sucker for a New Year’s resolution. So in 2015 I’ll be walking 1000 miles and doing the 5:2 diet. However, I’ve noticed that people don’t often make team resolutions – sure, we talk about our plans and aspirations for the year, but we never really make resolutions. By resolution I mean adopting a change of activity, behaviour or mind-set, not just taking on new projects or pieces of work. So I thought I’d have a stab at a short list of some recruitment-related resolutions for my team that will help keep us doing a great job all year, something both we and our customers can hold ourselves accountable to:
Now these resolutions don’t seem tough or hard to tackle, they just seem to be common sense. But is it really that easy? As a manager, do I need to put these resolutions in my team’s individual objectives or just assume that we’ll all make them happen? It’s food for thought, but putting them down on paper seems like the right place to start. And now I’ve committed them to public viewing, we’ll have to stick to them .
So from the Talent Acquisition team at NBCUniversal, we wish you a very Happy New Year and look forward to whatever 2015 may bring. Keep checking out our new jobs at www.nbcuni-internationalcareers.com and following our latest updates on Twitter @NBCUglobaljobs.
UNIVERSAL PICTURES INTERNATIONAL OPENS BEIJING OFFICE
Something rather special happened on Monday 17th November.
At the Park Hyatt hotel in Beijing, Universal Pictures International officially opened its Beijing office.
The great and the good of Chinese cinema were invited, including exhibitors, distribution partners, consumer product licensees, promotional partners, film agency partners, advertising agencies and the like, as well as our own stars in the form of Jo Yan, MD for China, Jeff Shell, Chairman of NBCUniversal’s filmed entertainment group, and Comcast Chief Brian Roberts.
Last year saw global box office revenues gross over US$35bn. An ever growing percentage of this revenue is coming from China. And according to most sources, China is now the second biggest box office in the world, behind the US.
And as US studios continue to develop their attempts to woo an ever-growing Chinese audience, NBCUniversal is looking at playing a major part in driving that growth, not just through the distribution of our own movies, including the likes of Jurassic World and the Minions movie, but also through the co-production and co-financing of locally produced content.
UNIVERSAL’S NEXT THEME PARK IN CHINA
We also recently announced the creation of our next theme park, to be based in the Tongzhou suburb of Beijing.
A joint venture between Universal Parks & Resorts and the Beijing Shouhan Cultural Tourism Investment consortium, this $3bn investment is expected to cover up to 1,000 acres, and will hopefully open around 2019. With many estimates indicating that Chinese theme park visitors will rival US numbers by 2020, the timing couldn’t be better!
RECRUITING IN CHINA
Given the growth of our operations in China, and the development of our strategy across the broader Asia Pacific region, we’re always on the lookout for the very best talent to ensure the success of these major projects.
From Sales and Marketing, to Business Development, to Finance and Distribution, our teams are being challenged in new and exciting ways every day. And working in places like Beijing and Shanghai offer our teams invaluable insight into the Chinese market and culture.
The next few years are going to be pivotal in NBCUniversal International’s presence in the region. To be a part of this incredible journey, and to fast track your career development in one of the fastest growing and dynamic markets in the world, keep a close eye on our International careers site for opportunities to join us.
Earlier this month we held an assessment day for our Future Leaders Programme, our flagship commercial graduate scheme running across the International Television businesses. From a staggering 1,200 applications, we guided our candidates through a range of assessments before a final twelve were selected and invited to the last stage, the assessment day.
After a fun evening of (sensibly restricted) drinks and an ever so slightly foreboding welcome from our SVP of HR David Walsh, the final twelve prepared themselves for a full day of assessment involving a group exercise, individual presentations and sit-down interviews with senior people from the TV business.
So far, so X Factor. But we’ve seen from the results that assessment in this environment is an effective way to identify core competencies and potential. Which is particularly difficult when everyone attending is qualified, talented and quite frankly, lovely. So … how do you prepare yourself to succeed at one of these assessment days?
Often at NBCUniversal International, this first round is managed by our recruiters. Our role is to find out more about your background and skill set, your motivations to join our business in a particular role, and to gauge whether you’d be an overall fit for the company.
We are also there to ask questions. Whether you’ve applied for the role or we’ve approached you, we view the interview process as a two-way street. It’s as much about you feeling comfortable with us as an employer, as NBCUniversal International wanting to bring you on board. We want to sell you the value of working with us.
Your interview is unlikely to look like this…
So, it can be a little disconcerting when (having deliberately left 20 minutes for this exact purpose) we ask, “So, what questions do you have?” and … nothing. Often people say that they have done extensive online research, or that they’ve worked in a similar business, so they feel very comfortable. Which is great, but there’s only so much you can gauge from the outside, and we admire inquisitive, curious types.
With that in mind, there are some questions that we feel a great candidate would want to know. Often these are:
You’d be surprised how often this isn’t asked! You spend a surprising amount of time at work, and thinking about work, and we want to make sure that you understand who we are and what we stand for. We will be honest – and glad that you have expressed the need to work in an environment that suits you, as well as a job that you’re qualified for.
We usually get as far as titles, but bear in mind you’re working with internal recruiters. Often, we know the manager and the team, and on occasion they might be someone we’ve been to the pub with! So feel free to ask.
Is there anything about my application that you’re concerned about at this stage?
You’re already at the interview stage, so don’t be afraid to ask about this. It shows a willingness to learn and improve yourself, which is great. And again, we’ll be honest, and try to help you think about ways to strengthen your application, for now and the future.
Particularly for strategic or senior roles, we’d hope that candidates will be inquisitive about the bigger picture. Of course, we won’t grab a flip chart and start outlining our entire strategy, but we can give you an idea of where we see the business going, and our challenges and opportunities going forward.
This is a question that people are often cautious in asking. There’s no need to be – we do support flexible working as a business, and it’s useful for us to know what you’re needs are in this area.
A really good question, as it shows you’re performance-orientated, and that you want to understand our expectations.
For a few seconds I was stunned – nobody had ever asked this. But it was a brilliant question – that candidate came away with a lecture on our current situation, how we stack up against the competition, international growth, an in-depth discussion on China, talk about our epic Christmas party, thoughts on Downton Abbey season 5 (in fact I don’t remember if we discussed that but we discussed pretty much everything else!) and much more. By asking one simple question, he learned more than anyone else in the process. And that stood him in good stead.
The moral of the story is – don’t be afraid to ask. There are very few stupid questions, and we are here to help. Just don’t ask us what’s going to happen next on Made in Chelsea. On that, we know as much as you do…