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Your Future – Tom Speight

Training Manager at the BBC where he’s worked in various roles for the last 25 years

– Why did you come to Cumbria?

“My career. I did a degree in History and Politics at Durham University. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I was interested in the world, so I lived in Western Ukraine for a year and taught English. I listened to the BBC World Service and realised it was actually the BBC I wanted to work for. I didn’t know what doing, just that it had to be the BBC. I worked for Waterstones in London for three years and during that time applied for jobs with the World Service. I’d decided I wanted to be a journalist, but my first job was administrative as a news output assistant. But once you’re in you can move around and I was able to make a radio programme called ‘Take Five’ about the British love affair with a cup of tea. It's a magical moment to hear your voice being broadcast. And that’s when I knew what I wanted to do and at the age of 27 became a journalist.

“I was working at Radio Five Live, but I had a two-year-old and I started to think about my next career move. I wanted to live somewhere nice that I didn't know anything about. I liked the adventure of going to Ukraine, I like exploring and at the same time I thought it might be easier and quicker to get up the management tree by moving out of London. That’s when the Cumbria News Editor role came up.”

– What do you think Cumbria has to offer?

“Back in the day all the big media jobs were in London but with Media City in Salford more people can live in the north in places like Cumbria. You can have a great career here with a variety of jobs. There’s lots going on. I was running a busy newsroom with about 12 people and within a year the big Carlisle flood happened. It was a big story attracting national coverage. It taught me some of the things that make Cumbria a pretty special place, like the communities and how everyone came together.

“There’s so much going on. I enjoy helping to run community music festivals and I’m involved in lots of arts and culture in my role as chair of the National Rural Touring Forum.”

– What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to Cumbria to live and/or work?
  • “Natural beauty: It’s a beautiful county so that’s a big draw. If you like walking, mountains, fresh air then this is the place for you. But it’s not just the Lake District the north and west coast are equally beautiful.
  • Art, music, sport, and culture: Cumbria has so much more to offer than just its natural scenery. There’s a huge cultural offer which isn’t often on people’s radar. It’s a vibrant, creative county.
  • Work life balance: I’m able to work from home most of the time and commute as necessary so I’ve got more freedom to travel around in my campervan and explore the county around work.
  • Top careers available: Journalism is a difficult industry with less traditional jobs with newspapers and radio stations than there used to be. But with advances in technology and flexible working you can live in Cumbria and work for big organisations like the BBC.”

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