Interview: NEP Europe president Lise Heidal on staying close to clients and investing wisely

NEP at the 2024 Grand National with UK broadcaster ITV

Lise Heidal stepped into her role as president of NEP Europe 1 April, her appointment part of a reshuffle of NEP’s European leadership team that includes Christer Pålsson named chief commercial officer for Europe and Jose Teixeira joining NEP a few days after Heidal, as president for NEP Nordics, Central & Southern Europe. Meanwhile, Arjan van Westerloo and Steve Jenkins are continuing in their roles as president, NEP The Netherlands, and president, NEP UK & Ireland, respectively.

The reason, said global president of NEP Broadcast Services Mike Werteen when the appointments were announced, was to combine NEP’s UK and European businesses under a single leadership team, with Heidal tasked with “harnessing all of the talent, synergies, sales and employee career opportunities across these important markets”.

Lise Heidal: Appointed president of NEP Europe on 1 April

Based in Norway, Heidal leads the strategic direction, priorities, and focus for some 11 countries, spanning the Nordics, Southern and Mid-Europe, as well as the Netherlands, UK, and Ireland.

Speaking with SVG Europe at NAB 2024, she picks up on Werteen’s comments and explains that her priority is to focus on “identifying synergies” in these markets.

She says: “It is essential for us to always seek improved ways of enhancing internal collaboration, both in terms of sharing our skill sets and utilising our technical capabilities. While we are already managing resources effectively, we will further intensify these efforts.

“Additionally, we will explore growth opportunities within these countries and beyond. The industry has experienced significant instability in recent years, and NEP has remained a constant during these times. We are committed to maintaining this stability, ensuring continued support and development for our clients, employees, and the industry as a whole.”

Heidal’s new role means a return to an organisation she is already very familiar with; she held the role of managing director of NEP Norway in 2010 when it operated under the name Mediatec, before its acquisition by NEP Group in 2015. Prior to this she spent 15 years in the consulting and telecom industries at Accenture and Telenor. Immediately before her return to NEP she spent two and a half years at TV 2, Norway’s largest commercial broadcaster which she says provided valuable insights from the broadcaster customer’s perspective.

“Broadcasters, rights holders, and OTT-providers are facing a tough competitive environment, with new players entering, new viewing habits and a continuously growing volume of content offered to the audience. They need to be as efficient as possible, and at the same time produce not only more content, but also more relevant content”

“Transitioning between industries has allowed me to observe that regardless of sector, similar challenges and opportunities arise when working with people. Great teams, built on trust, honesty, openness, and constructive dialogue with a strong commitment to joint goals leads to stronger collaboration and achievement of results. And, it is so much more fun when we as co-workers dare to be honest and open and challenge each other.”

Having only been in role for a couple of weeks when she spoke with SVG Europe, Heidal says it’s too early to say whether she’ll make further changes to the teams she is now leading.

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“We are constantly evolving our strategy according to market developments, opportunities and the rise of new technologies. It is then necessary to look at which roles and skills are needed to fulfill that strategy. This involves assessing the current roles and skills within our teams and identifying any gaps that need to be addressed through, for example, training, upskilling, reskilling, or organising differently.

“I’m inheriting an amazing team of world-class engineers, technical and market experts, and talented support staff. We will continue to develop ourselves in accordance with market needs and technological advancements, and provide a positive learning environment for all to thrive in.”

European opportunities

Earlier this year, SVG Europe wrote about how NEP Germany has been providing production support for the nascent sports streaming service Dyn Media, employing a ‘hybrid’ approach of remote and decentralised production for coverage of a mixture of different tiers of sports for the platform which is dedicated to underserved sports.

Its work with Dyn provides a good example of the requirement for production services and outside broadcast providers like NEP to be able to provide a range of solutions that fit the needs – and budgets – of a vast range of clients.

“We have handled the broad range for many years, so our operations have full control over this. It also provides us with real opportunity for innovation, extracting and applying knowledge from both small scale and premium productions. This perspective shows us how to use smarter processes, solutions and efficient ways of working across the whole range,” says Heidal.

Converted VW Crafters with a core rack in a flight case with three stage boxes

What that means for NEP’s technology plans, says Heidal, is the need to invest “where the market needs us”, from flypacks to fullscale OB trucks in addition to a continued expansion of NEP’s connected production ecosystem.

She says: “We are also delivering, developing and investing in our own software solutions such as TFC (NEP’s proprietary broadcast control platform) and Mediabank, in various graphics and VR/AR solutions, as well as in service areas like playout, connectivity, postproduction, specialty capture and so on.

“The content providers such as broadcasters, rights holders, and OTT-providers are facing a tough competitive environment, with new players entering, new viewing habits and a continuously growing volume of content offered to the audience. They need to be as efficient as possible, and at the same time produce not only more content, but also more relevant content.

“In addition, technological developments are moving faster than ever, and our industry is, like most other industries, bombarded with new innovations. You must have the competency to filter out what’s important and prioritise your development initiatives accordingly.

“We’re staying close to our clients to understand their needs and offering them relevant and comprehensive solutions – from capture to distribution and everything in between. We are of course also challenged by evolving markets and new technologies, but it’s deeply rooted in our DNA to, at all times, serve our clients’ needs in the best ways possible.

“We have over 3,000 engineers and technical staff worldwide that have extensive knowledge in technological developments in combination with the experience of what works well in a live situation – when everything needs to work seamlessly to secure a solid delivery.

“We have a long list of new innovations being developed in different parts of the global group during the last few years, all based on a combination of market needs and technological opportunities. I am really looking forward to the years to come, and I know it will be an extremely exciting journey to be a part of.”

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