David Parkin on an amazing Sky experience, Where’s Wally and meeting the Ant and Dec of business

David Parkin on an amazing Sky experience, Where’s Wally and meeting the Ant and Dec of business

THOSE who watch Game of Thrones will look at the photograph above and think: “At last, a strong, stable ruler who everyone can look up to has united the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and ascended to the Iron Throne.”

And those who don’t are thinking: “What’s that tosser pratting about at now?”

Well fans of Game of Thrones are probably thinking that too.

The Iron Throne, the centrepiece of HBO’s blockbuster Game of Thrones series, was one of the stars of the show at an event held by broadcasting and telecommunications giant Sky at Leeds Arena this week.

We were involved in organising the day-long conference for 3,000 staff who work in its Home Service division – fitting dishes, broadband and wi-fi.

It was a fantastic opportunity to work on a big, exciting project, although slightly daunting given it was the largest event Sky has ever put on in its 28 year history.

But my colleague Liz Theakston is a logistical genius who has masterminded a number of major events and ensured that this one was a huge success.

I did what I was told and also tried to inject a little humour to help relieve any pressure.

Although Liz didn’t laugh when I suggested that ever since she’d been given a walkie-talkie the power had gone to her head and she’d “gone a bit Cersei Lannister”.

Unless you watch Game of Thrones, or GoT as it’s known, you won’t know what I’m on about.

The ambitious project was the brainchild of Carla Stockton-Jones, Sky’s director of Home Service who loved bringing an event of this magnitude to her home city.

Titled ‘Driving the Future’, it saw senior figures from Sky take to the stage to outline the vision for the future of the company which is now part of US broadcasting giant Comcast.

But it was also a thank you to a team who are field-based and who, for customers, are the face of Sky.

As well as hearing about where Sky has come from and where it is going, there was also the opportunity to look into the future in terms of the technology it is developing and also what major new shows, and returning favourites, will be on our screens in the coming year.

The audience also had the chance to hear from a sports panel made up of former sports stars turned pundits Jamie Redknapp and Johnny Nelson, former England netball captain Ama Agbeze, as well as Sky Sports’ director of strategy Jonathan Licht and head of boxing Adam Smith.

The day ended with Sky signing the Armed Forces Covenant to underline its commitment to treat fairly those who serve, or have served in the military, and their families.

The Covenant is a promise from the nation to actively support the armed forces community and ensure they are not disadvantaged in their day-to-day lives.

Given the number of former service personnel who work for Sky, it was a significant moment and clearly very popular with the audience.

Sky already has a strong connection to the armed forces  and provides its content to military bases across the world and waives cancellation fees for broadband and media packages when personnel are posted overseas or to another part of the UK.

So it was particularly fitting that Carla was able to bring the event to a close by introducing the band of the Royal Armoured Corps, who entered the arena playing the theme from Game of Thrones.

You might have thought that was my moment to rise from my throne.

It would have been nice, but I was too busy preparing to give out 3,000 summer care packs to guests as they left the arena.

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YOU might remember I included a photo in this blog of the crowd at the Wembley play-off final between Aston Villa and Derby County last month and invited readers to try and spot me.

I said I was holding my head when Aston Villa scored their first goal, but my oldest school friend Simon informed me it was actually when Jack Marriott missed a chance for Derby in the closing minutes.

It’s typical of the man.

Simon, not Jack Marriott.

Anyway, I received an email after the photo appeared.

Mark Goldstone, head of policy at West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said:  “Thanks for the Where’s Wally game, wiled away some time whilst waiting in a car park in Easingwold.”

Well there are worse things you can do in a car park in Easingwold.

I’m told.

:::

I’VE had a couple of opportunities to view the impressive new stand at the Emerald Headingley Stadium in the last few weeks.

I hosted an event for fast-growing telecoms company Yoozoom at Headingley two weeks ago.

An invited audience came along to hear about the latest developments in the sector which include Leeds-based Yoozoom’s recent move into branded video calls.

Given these can be made through a web browser it really does underline Yoozoom co-founder Al Athraby’s presentation entitled ‘Web Calling – The Death of the Landline and How to Shorten the Customer Journey’.

The rise of technology in business is rampant.

For me, business is about people and relationships and in today’s pressurised world, with social media and new technology, it is easy to avoid meeting people and doing business face-to-face.

But Al Athraby and his Yoozoom co-founder Alex Deighton are great believers in building relationships and they do business the right way.

They are absolutely focused on doubling the size of their business in the next few years but also balance that ambition with being fun and engaging.

They even enjoyed me introducing them as the Ant and Dec of the telecoms sector.

Then I was back in the new stand last week as a guest of Martin Wolstencroft of expanding bar-restaurant group Arc Inspirations which is behind the Manhatta and Banyan chains.

Leeds Rhinos played Wigan Warriors in what was not a classic between these two great rivals, but the hospitality and company was top class.

I bumped into Rhinos legend Jamie Jones-Buchanan, who I had invited to speak at the Yoozoom event the week before.

Jamie is a great communicator and focuses on story-telling.

Given he has just celebrated 20 years with the Rhinos he has plenty of good stories to tell.

And his communication skills will certainly fuel the next chapter of his career when the curtain comes down on his time as a player.

:::

WILL Holman, the deputy agent of the Bank of England in Yorkshire is leaving his role at the end of this month to take up a new position in the civil service.

Given he will take up an economist role in the Office of Rail & Road let’s hope Yorkshire’s loss is UK transport’s gain.

Will dropped me a line to ask to continue to receive this blog and added: “It’s been brilliant to get to know the Yorkshire business world and its many characters – yourself included!”

I don’t care what you think, I’m taking that as a compliment.

::::

LEEDS boxer Josh Warrington looks to be on his way to America for his next fight after overcoming the awkward challenge of Sheffield rival Kid Galahad at Leeds Arena last Saturday night.

After the bout Warrington told journalists: “I felt like I was one more hurdle away from getting to the States and had I slipped now, it would have been even further away so I think I put pressure on myself at how bad I wanted it.”

He added: “There’s no-one left for me to fight over here. I don’t want to be coming back here and defending the title against some bloke who works at the car-wash on the York Road.”

I’ve seen some of those lads at the car wash and I wouldn’t fancy getting into a ring with them if the way they wield a chamois is anything to go by.

:::

LEEDS has the fastest growing digital sector of any city in the North of England according to recent reports.

We are told that the UK’s most talented digital brains are being attracted by this burgeoning reputation.

But before we get too carried away can I relay a conversation between two luminaries of the digital sector outside Restaurant Bar & Grill in City Square on Wednesday evening.

When his phone pinged, one guy looked at it and said: “I see Dominic Raab’s out.”

His colleague looked up from her phone: “What, from Love Island?”

:::

APOLOGIES for the lack of a blog last week.

No I didn’t have a hangover, I was actually let down by technology – my laptop crashed.

I’m away on holiday for the next couple of weeks.

But fear not.

At great expense I have arranged for a guest blogger to step in next week.

Leeds lawyer Rodney Dalton will dip his quill in ink and scribe some finely crafted thoughts for your pleasure and delectation.

When I was at the Yorkshire Post we published several articles by him in which he had a pop at recruiters, fundraising balls and architects who didn’t wear ties.

So he’ll fit in well here.

And I aim to be back in a couple of weeks with a tan – and a new laptop.

Have a great weekend.

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