Enjoying the buzz: IMG Studios lead engineer Becky Munks on loving the pressure of sports broadcasting
By Becky Munks, lead engineer, IMG Studios
Live sports has a certain buzz to it that I enjoy; there is something about the immediacy and pressure that I really love. You must think on your feet when it goes wrong, engage the team and get issues resolved immediately. It is also always very satisfying when you have a production that’s gone to air without issue.
Working in live sport is a very high-pressure job; we have to perform and we have to make sure all kit and technical equipment is fit for purpose, rigged, ready and tested with tight schedules and very quick turnarounds.
Working with technical equipment can be unpredictable and challenging. We have to prioritise, think quickly, and have workarounds in place in case of any failures. Any technical problems can impact routine and working hours to make sure productions get on air. But that is part of what I love about the job.
I was promoted to lead engineer in 2022 and this has given me an opportunity to be more involved with the management and development of the engineering team at IMG. We are at a transitional stage at IMG and I am pleased to be in the position I am in, as I am able to bring my own thoughts and ideas on how we can progress the engineering team and I know I can help make a difference.
Family and work balance
I have always been aware that the broadcast engineering industry is a very male-dominated environment, but this has never really bothered me too much. It had never hindered my career until I wanted to start a family.
Once I started a family I initially decided to step away from full-time employment as I wanted to find the right balance between work and young children.
After my first child I wanted to return to work part time but at the time there were no doors open to allow me to do this. It was at this point in my career that I decided to go back to freelance, giving me the flexibility I needed to fit work in around my schedule and find the balance I needed at the time.
“Working in live sport is a very high-pressure job; we have to perform and we have to make sure all kit and technical equipment is fit for purpose, rigged, ready and tested with tight schedules and very quick turnarounds”
Although this gave me the opportunity to work when it suited me, it has always felt daunting. I was never quite as flexible as other freelancers could be and I know this affected the work I got.
It was when a former colleague of mine approached me about a job share that we managed to work together and change the mentality of full-time hours at Timeline TV. That opportunity to work more flexibly is there for all now. This then re-opened the doors at IMG, who are also entirely flexible in their approach to part time.
When I returned to IMG, it wasn’t long before I was approached about a lead position. I didn’t want to commit to the full-time hours so put forward a new position to them, which would bridge the gap between the two sides of the shifts, that until then had always worked very independently. This has worked incredibly well and brought a new and exciting aspect to my career.
As lead engineer, I find the most challenging aspects of the role are balancing my workload, managing expectations and making sure my team are always happy. These also happen to be some of the things I enjoy the most! IMG has got busier and taken on bigger and more high-profile clients over the years, and I love being a part of this. I am getting to help, shape and remould the team to take this on.
Looking back on my career, I couldn’t wait to finish my GCSE’s and start work in broadcast engineering. This was the path my brother had taken and I found it fascinating. I started my A-Levels and did it for a year but quickly became bored, so approached the tutor at Ravensbourne and after many conversations, eventually I was invited to start my degree a year early!
At Ravensbourne I studied broadcast engineering and graduated with a 2:1 honours degree. The course gave a fantastic foundation in all broadcast engineering principles and opened the doors into the industry for me.
I got my first role at Satellite Information Services (SIS) based in Old Street as a trainee engineer. Ravensbourne would put on a yearly event to showcase graduating students’ talents, where professionals from across the broadcasting industry were invited to attend, and it was here where I first met the managers at SIS. The job entailed all the usual trainee tasks, exposing me to all areas at SIS, and offered me my first experience of working in a live environment.
After SIS I got a job as a broadcast engineer at Talkback Thames on the drama ‘The Bill’ working with a small team of engineers, which introduced me to a whole new skill set and I enjoyed the challenge.
During this time, I was also freelancing, mainly on outside broadcasting for sports. I loved the fast pace, the buzz and the excitement of the live world of sports broadcasting, compared to the more structured style of engineering on dramas.
This learning led me to IMG Studios, where I took the role of broadcast engineer so I got to work on live broadcast events daily.
To you, I’d say just go for it! You will find that stigma is not there, in fact it is quite the opposite.