Rising cream

Posted on August 21, 2010


Cream rises to the top. That’s the expression.

Those with a tendency for looking on the world with a rose-tinted view look at life that way. We expect that even in the most difficult of situations or environments, those who effortlessly combine innate skill with an undeniably endearing and seemingly ego-less personality will remain true to the cause. They can be relied upon to stick with the organisation. They are the individuals who crop up in different places. They are the very people whose names normally prompt the response: “Oh yeah, I remember him/her. He/She’s lovely.” Shorthand for “yeah, they’re a good sort”.

Defectors Weld

It’s a common experience in BBC circles and I would imagine in most other work environments. Even now, similarly sized organisations can be found small groups of committed individuals who blend effortlessly with each other, striving to meet the high standards they impose on themselves and when the working day doesn’t go quite as planned seeking solace in a pint with the same people who also show the potential of being long term pals. At least that’s the hope when you stand at the bar in the likes of the Defectors Weld on Shepherds Bush Green.

Two events this week remind me of this consistent experience whilst working at the BBC. First was a reunion for a technical project manager who had left Future Media & Technology for the US two years ago. The intervening people have seen changes for lots of people. Job titles for a start. Producers are Product Managers. There are Delivery Managers and Product Owners. The designers and client-side developers may remain but the uncompromising aspirations inherent in the stricter project management methodologies make the creative process all very different from the experience I had a few years ago.

And yet, despite that change, the reunion drink saw the same familiar faces – some with new titles – who had weathered the change. A mixture of skill, experience and enviable flexibility characterise these people. These are the people who will – I’m in no doubt – remain at the BBC for years to come. Not, because they’re impossible to get rid of, but because they’re good at what they do. They are reliable. They’re excited. They inspire. They’re vital.

A few miles away over in the noisy horrors of Central London a few days later, the same story is repeated. The new BBC Radio Five Live Interactive Editor leaves his role in Audio & Music and – presumably at his leaving do – he gets to see the video his friends and colleagues have put together to send him on his way.

Nigel – the man in the cowboy hat the beginning of the video below – was an online producer on the BBC Two TV plus (the pre-cursor to BBC iPlayer back when it was Real Player or Windows Media) when I was a Red Bee Media (formerly BBC Broadcast) webmaster. He was part of a team of other online producers who have now spread across the Beeb, responsible for high-profile websites, some who face difficult decisions in the face of the 25% cuts promised in Mark Thompson’s ‘Putting Quality First’.

But these are the people who will – and absolutely should – remain at the BBC. They are the good people whose – like the people I caught up with in the Defectors Weld – keep the standard up. The people who share passion not just for their output but for the brand as well.

And when you see them or hear of those people’s progression throughout the organisation, the reaction is always the same. It’s a mixture of pride and pleasure. That and a sense that you’re not surprised they’ve done what they’ve done. Keep an eye on them. Value them.

Posted in: Internet