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Rise: 2021 – the year of ‘firsts’

Journal Article from Rise

Mon 17, 01 2022

Carrie Wootten

Managing Director, Rise

Although Rise has been established since 2017, 2021 has been a year of many ‘firsts’ with new initiatives and projects being launched.

One of the most significant developments has been the launch of the Rise Mentoring Programme in North America, this year supporting 20 women from across the region. Rise has seen the impact and benefit that mentoring can directly bring to women in the sector through its UK programme over the last three years and the North American programme is running with the same framework, with three key strands: the direct 1-2-1 mentoring, CPD training and fireside chats and then monthly meet-ups with all of the Mentees. The camaraderie and support between the cohort of women is one of the main outcomes Rise hopes comes from the programme, so the women have an ongoing network of champions that lasts long after the programme has wrapped.

North American Mentee
‘’I was inspired by the diversity and ambition of the women I met as a Mentee. Their drive, passion for their job and the aspirations they shared were truly motivating. Not only did Rise promote a feeling of camaraderie, the program was also extremely clear that my career growth is my responsibility and gave me the tools to chart my course and take my next steps. I’m grateful to have been included in the program and excited to apply what I’ve learned.’’

North American Mentor:
‘’I am in awe and inspired by how hard everyone within the programme has worked to grow professionally and personally. It is very clear that each of these women has addressed topics ranging from: work/life balance, challenges of work in the pandemic, self-confidence, networking, public speaking, and the list goes on. All of this, plus the additional effort that went into their participation whilst carrying on with their day-to-day commitments...Amazing!’’

One of the key programmes of work that is central to Rises’ ambitions of creating a diverse and gender balanced workforce is the Rise Up Academy. Rise believes that unless the industry significantly invests in children and young people then the dial of diversity will not change. In October this year, Rise delivered 16 hands-on workshops where the children built a 4-camera fly pack gallery and studio. The workshops reached over 400 children in three locations; Hull, Portsmouth and East London. To say that the workshops are life-changing sounds cliched and perhaps a little over dramatic too. But I am confident that this is what happened with many of the students.

We worked with children aged 9 through to young people aged 18 years old. The format and structure did not change and the workshops were split into three sections; a practical lesson, where pixels, RGB and distribution of content were discussed. We then moved onto the central, practical, part of the workshop which is to build the gallery. Many students can feel intimidated by this when faced with a diagram and a pile of kit (!), but once they realise they can plug the cables in and that makes the gallery work, the atmosphere changes. The final part is where the students run a short quiz show and we work as though in a ‘live’ studio. They are led throughout this process by a team of industry volunteers and we had 40 individuals from across the sector working with us throughout October.

The feedback from volunteers, students and staff has been overwhelmingly positive with a huge demand for the workshops to be delivered across the country – my inbox is full of requests! We had the pleasure of working with diverse students across the country and met some incredible young people and one of the joys of these workshops was seeing those

students who do not normally engage in education, grasp the opportunity with both hands. Our challenge now is not to let them down and ensure that their next steps into higher education or the industry are clear and supported by the industry.

‘’In the rise up workshop, I had the rare and amazing experience of a lifetime as I had undergone a day that involved a detailed and mind blowing insight into the process of setting up producing a show in a fully functioning TV studio with 1-to-1 help of brilliant and well-versed team members, each with their own eye-opening stories about the world of media. This was one astonishing moment I will never forget, as it not only gave me deeper understanding of the creative industry, but also helped me shape my career choices in the sector.’’ Xavier, Aged 17, Mulberry University Technical College, East London

In November 2021, we also launched our first Women in Leadership Report, in partnership with the KTN. The report is the first of its kind for the media technology sector and provides an in-depth insight with recommendations into how the industry can encourage women to reach their potential and succeed in leadership roles.

Led by Peggy Rieckmann (Vubiquity) and Stefi Popescu (Sky), Rise developed an initial survey in early 2021 to discover if there were any specific trends that have led to women being leaders in our sector. The findings of this survey were then analysed, identifying underpinning patterns. This work has resulted in Rise’s fully-fledged report, authored by Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain (KTN) which will help companies have a better understanding of behaviours, attitudes and support that can lead to women occupying senior positions at companies across the globe. You can download the full report here:

In addition to the above work, Rise has also had a brand refresh and updated its website, of which one of the key developments has been the Rise Job Board, funded and supported by Moov. The aim of the Job Board is to encourage more diverse applications for engineering and technical roles across the sector. It will provide a valuable resource providing a library of international job postings and will also develop to add tools for CV and interview advice for women seeking more opportunities within our industry. It has been fantastic to see the Board being used so much already and we look forward to supporting the industry more to reach more diverse applicants in 2022.

One exciting last development has been our first ever Rise Retreat. We brought together 30 of our 2020 Mentees and Mentors to a beautiful site in Lancaster, where we were able to network, connect and spend time in a gorgeous setting. The sun even shone for us. This dedicated time together was quite special, as no one had met face to face due to the pandemic and ongoing lockdowns last year and I really can’t wait to plan our next one now.

These have been some of the key ‘firsts’ that we have delivered this year, but of course there have been other fundamental programmes that have continued throughout the year, such as the wider mentoring programme, where we are supporting 100 women in 2021 and of course our recent Rise Awards, as well as wider events and workshops.

The pace of the global advocacy group is moving rapidly and we are seeing extremely positive results. We are confident that there will be further international expansion in 2022, as well as other new initiatives.

Three is still much to be done to achieve a diverse and gender balanced workforce, but Rise is working extremely hard to ensure that we achieve our goal.

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