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Mentoring Scheme Success Stories: Lizzie Wingham – Editorial Commissioner, Barcroft Studios

Lizzie Wingham has spent her career working in development and production roles. Her programme credits include George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces (Channel 4), Married At First Sight (Channel 4) and Queer Britain (BBC Three). She was Deputy Editor at BBC Three from 2017 to 2019, and is now working as Editorial Commissioner at factual content producers Barcroft Studios, exec’ing both linear and digital projects.

Lizzie was a mentee on the first edition of the WFTV Mentoring Scheme, back in 2011. Her mentor was Tracy Forsyth, a TV exec who now runs the WFTV Mentoring Scheme. Here, Lizzie tells us what she got out of the scheme, and how the on-going peer-to-peer support from her group of mentees still helps her eight years on…

Why did you apply for the WFTV Mentoring Scheme? I was interested in having someone to give me independent career advice, in particular around managing a family and being a freelance PD.

‘At the end of the scheme we all received a page of positive peer comments ….I have kept mine and if I am in need of a career ego boost I’ll have a read.’

What were you hoping to get out of the scheme? I joined the scheme hoping to have someone that I could sense check things with. A person that I wasn’t employed by who could help me get on without having their own agenda. At that point I had been working at very small companies so the opportunity to expand my network was also a huge draw.

Was it what you expected? The scheme surpassed any expectations. We met regularly and the peer to peer lectures really helped open my eyes to the sheer breadth of the industry. At the end of the scheme we all received a page of positive peer comments ….I have kept mine and if I am in need of a career ego boost I’ll have a read.

Were you at all surprised by the mentor you were paired with? I didn’t have a fixed idea of who I might be paired with – so when I was given Tracy (Forsyth) I was intrigued to try and un-pick why (Scheme Producer) Nicola Lees thought we were a good match. It didn’t take more than 5 minutes to realise that Nicola had been spot on!

‘My mentor gave me the confidence to pitch myself out to new execs and companies. She taught me the art of selling myself without being too ‘female’ and self-effacing.’

How did the relationship with your mentor work during the scheme and what do you feel you gained from it? Tracy and I would regularly email, and then in addition we had a few face to face meetings. I would always come away from a meeting with ‘homework’ to do – and Tracy was pretty formidable so there was never a question of being anything other than 100% committed to the process.

The unique aspect of the scheme is how it uses peer-to-peer training as well as mentor support, how did that work? The peer-to-peer element was the unexpected highlight of the scheme. It has, over the past few years, been invaluable having a network of peers across the industry to call upon for advice, favours and collaborations. Even after eight years we are still actively supporting each other.

How did the mentoring scheme change your career and how did it lead to your present role? My mentor gave me the confidence to pitch myself out to new execs and companies. She taught me the art of selling myself without being too ‘female’ and self-effacing. Despite the fact the scheme was eight years ago – my mentor had a key role in my current role. After taking some time out of TV I was finding it difficult to land a decent production role and although we hadn’t spoken in a while I decided that I needed a top up of that unbiased advice from Tracy. She gave me a good talking to, told me not to feel sorry for myself and then opened her black book. Within a week I had an interview and I started a job at BBC Three a week later.

Can you tell us about your current role/work? I am currently working at Barcroft Studios in the newly created role of Editorial Commissioner. I am working across both the digital and linear teams exec’ing content and piloting new projects. It’s an incredible place to work with a young team and busy office.

What would be a ‘typical’ day at the office for you? Currently, I arrive at the office at around 9:30am and from then on in there is never a ‘typical day’. There will be various editorial meetings, and catching up with production teams, there may be an edit to drop into, but that’s my favourite thing – every day is different.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given, and who was it by? Mine wasn’t a piece of advice, it was a manner of being. Will Daws, the MD at Plum Pictures used to come and sit next to the production teams, feet up on the desk, grin on face and you’d hear those words ‘so…I’ve had an idea…..’ you knew it was either a moment of creative genius or utter madness – but it was approachable and inclusive. That as a management style always stuck out, and it’s the manner in which I hope I manage my own teams years later.

What advice would you give someone thinking of applying for the WFTV Mentoring Scheme? I would always recommend a mentoring scheme to people – I don’t think that you can ever go far wrong with getting some unbiased advice. I would advise someone to really think about what they want to get out of the experience before knowing what they can expect – so that they can push their mentor as well as being pushed themselves.

Our thanks to Lizzie for taking the time to chat to us.

Find out more about the WFTV Mentoring Scheme.

Meet the 2019 WFTV Mentees.

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