"The quality of teaching was actually very genuine and looking back now I’m so grateful - I wouldn’t be where I am without it."
It is safe to say that Richard Walker didn’t plan to be where he is now. As Head of Media Planning at the BBC Richard is responsible of managing a team of 50 people who look after all the scheduling of the BBC’s, well, advertising.
Advertising isn’t a word you hear associated with the BBC very often but, as Richard explains, his job is a busy one, “Because we are a non-commercial entity, between all of our programmes we show people things that they might like coming up; we do it on TV on radio, online too. We also look after the continuity announcers who speak between the programmes.
“We have a modest paid media budget, so when we can’t reach audiences on own platform we pay to reach them on social media, or the cinema or outdoor. My team is 50 people who basically look after the whole media inventory for the BBC.”
It is a very responsible job for someone who only graduated from Bournemouth University in 2004, where Richard studied Advertising with Marketing Communication. He continued, “I wanted to do advertising at university and I looked for universities that did advertising and I got the BU prospectus and it showed a picture of Sandbanks, perhaps slightly misleading. But obviously it was a fantastic course.”
Richard, originally from Rochdale, has a lot of memories from his time at BU, “I remember staying in the student village in Brookside-style houses, being thrown into somewhere 300/400 miles away with people that I had no idea who they were.
“No one had a laptop as it was 2004, only the rich kids had a laptop and you had to race to get a terrible desktop computer, and saving everything on a floppy disk, especially my dissertation, which I now can’t do anything with. I met so many people from places that I’ve never really heard of before and making those friends and the quality of teaching was actually very genuine and looking back on it now I’m so grateful I wouldn’t be where I am now because of it.”
As a part of his course, Richard did a placement within the marketing department at Bradford Bulls rugby league club, before a chance encounter during his course at BU started Richard’s career journey. London-based agency MediaCom were involved in one of the course modules and asked a few of the students to come for an interview. “I finished my degree and had no intention of coming to London, but MediaCom rang me, and said ‘do you want to come for an interview, for our graduate scheme’. I went down there and had no intention of taking the job and moving to London. They offered me a job there which was too good to turn down. So I worked at MediaCom for about three years.”
It was then that a job came up at the BBC, where Richard has now been working for over a decade. “I moved from MediaCom to Radio 1 for about two and a half years. Then I started looking after the TV inventory and looked at if we were hitting all our targets. Then moved up to Salford and got a promotion.
“In Salford I worked on sport, and at 5 Live, so I did all the media planning for the Olympics 2012 in London, and then the World Cup in 2014, which was really cool.”
Following this Richard was asked to move to BBC Three, to manage the transition to online only, before being promoted into the role of Head of Media Planning.
Richard still credits his time at BU with the skills he learned for the job he’s doing now. Richard was honest in saying of BU, “It’s not an Oxford, Manchester or a top ten university, but what BU does is massively focus on vocations, on skills that get you jobs, through the courses they do. I’m really proud that I got really good A-levels results, and going to somewhere where I knew could provide me to get a good standing to get a really good job.”
For those looking at Richard’s career with an envious eye, hoping to follow in his footsteps, Richard was also on hand to offer some advice to current BU students, “When we employ grads, we’re not looking for the person with the most experience or the person who has best knowledge of TV ratings and scheduling. We want people who are incredibly enthusiastic about broadcast media, about the future of TV and the internet. I think it’s about having that passion for the thing you want to do.”