“Perfection is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat.” DAZN’s Caroline Ewerton on seizing opportunities
International Women's Day 2021 focus
DAZN’s Caroline Ewerton, vice president of production services (acting), quotes author Elizabeth Gilbert to describe her approach to seizing and making career opportunities in sports broadcasting: “perfection is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat.”
“I absolutely love and always quote that because it’s so true,” she says. “Perfection is the enemy of ‘possible’ and the learning process never ends anyway, so why wait for confidence?”
Just go for it
“Taking a job in a pure sport company can be an intimidating move for women but go for it and learn on the job,” continues Ewerton. “You can never be fully prepared for anything in life and the job is the best teacher you will ever have. Actively seek opportunities and embrace those that come to you without fear of not knowing enough about sports.”
“The glass ceiling is real but it’s also limiting and discouraging, so I had to keep smashing through the unconscious bias, leaving behind the doubt and sense of inadequacy”
Ewerton ended up in a career in the sports field of broadcasting by accident more than intention, but she loves the environment she has found herself succeeding in. “I didn’t actually seek a career in live sport, it just sort of happened, but I must confess there is a real buzz about working in a live sport environment! Ultimately everything we do is for the benefit of delivering great, engaging content to our customers – the sport fans – and for them there is nothing better than watching it live. The rewards outweigh the challenges we face in live production and we’ll always aim to deliver the best customer experience.”
Ewerton has ignored the glass ceiling concept as she has traversed the broadcasting field, making her own opportunities to take herself forward. She explains: “As a woman of colour, in order to succeed, I had to choose to let go of the concept of the glass ceiling, where you can’t obtain the opportunities you see in front of you, despite your suitability and best efforts. The glass ceiling is real but it’s also limiting and discouraging, so I had to keep smashing through the unconscious bias, leaving behind the doubt and sense of inadequacy.
“First, I chose to take ownership of my own career break and have always made my intention to grow known to those who could help me. I’ve always been vocal about my ambition but also made sure I delivered the best possible results to be able to back up my intention. The only way to succeed against the odds is to get people thinking about taking a risk with you because the opportunities you create are too good to miss.”
Showing up for business
Ewerton did a BA in Film and TV at university, eventually choosing the TV production path. She, “took a shine to post production” and began her career as a runner at a post production company, soon being promoted to a junior tech op role.
“I think what got me promoted pretty quickly wasn’t what I had learnt at university, but the several catering jobs I had to do to support myself while studying,” Ewerton says. “These jobs were hard to juggle while studying full time, but they taught me to ‘show up for it’, and I went into my first job in TV with a professional can-do attitude, rather than thinking like a student.
“The only way to succeed against the odds is to get people thinking about taking a risk with you because the opportunities you create are too good to miss”
“I developed an interest in how things worked and the process of pulling resources together to deliver an outcome; what we now call workflows. I worked for a few companies and built a good reputation, but the pay wasn’t good, and the opportunities for ascension in tech ops for women were scarce. I started freelancing for the same employers for better pay,” she explains.
Freelancing gave her the freedom to make exciting decisions, such as trying a new profession, which led her overseas with her own 3D printing business at the start of the boom in that area.
“I had to learn 3D design and printing techniques from scratch, which taught me some skills are transferrable and gave me the confidence to have a go at anything,” she reminisces. “Owning a business was the biggest lesson in life as it evolved my work ethic and professional mindset. What initially seemed like a career detour ended up giving me the development I needed to return to a solid career in the broadcast industry.”
Clear game plan
“Back in the UK I joined ITV, initially working as a media technician within a young team, which was tough after running my own business for a few years. But I had a clear game plan from the start, to move up again at the earliest opportunity, and I remained focused despite the challenges,” Ewerton states.
“I learnt to create opportunities for myself and soon developed a passion for technology and rolling out new initiatives. The transition from tape to file-based delivery and broadcast was my first experience in transformation management. This opportunity led to great career leaps as I moved up to operations management roles with a remit beyond post production, to encompass live and my first exposure to sport production at The London Studios.”
An opportunity to deliver transformational change and innovation brought Ewerton to DAZN, in her first role completely dedicated to sports broadcasting. She says: “I joined DAZN in 2019 initially on a temporary basis as head of operational delivery, focusing on the implementation of our global virtual production estate. I absolutely love delivering transformational change and was attracted to the project from the first time I heard about it. I actually turned down a permanent role at my previous company because I did not want to miss the opportunity to bring virtual production to fruition!
“I have recently stepped into the role of vice president of production services, in a temporary acting up capacity, leading international teams across multiple functions to deliver innovation, driving productivity and increasing efficiency for the global production estate. What I enjoy the most is the ability to transform the business, improving the suite of solutions that enable the creation and delivery of content.”
Over the past year, Ewerton has been able to encourage people to take hold of opportunities that previously would have been considered risky. She explains: “Looking at the production services function, 2020 didn’t initiate change but definitely accelerated transformation that was already happening. Our virtual production implementation started way before COVID as a means of powering our rapid global expansion. Traditionally people were more risk averse, but now there is an excitement around the opportunity and flexibility. People know that remote technology not only works but opens up more creative opportunities, while reducing the cost base. And this is sustainable transformation, so it isn’t going anywhere.”
“Due to our early adoption of remote workflows, through the height of lockdown we were able to facilitate content creation in many forms. The pandemic opened up the opportunity for our content teams to be more creative and really go for it when it comes to the adoption of modern technology such as virtual and remote,” she comments. “We certainly saw editorial considerations being redefined very quickly and our production tools having to adapt and evolve at incredible speed. For example, our re-imagining archive formats, or the use of lightweight, consumer-based tools, sometimes as the primary storytelling means to deliver COVID formats.”
“Right now, I’d say the biggest challenge is finding the right balance when delivering live content over remote and distributed workflows. Or in other words, delivering live production in a high-quality, low-latency and secure environment over remote, without sacrificing any of these elements too much,” Ewerton adds.
“On a personal level, working from home has been the biggest change as I used to work from the office five days a week. I was spending on average 18 to 20 hours a week commuting and the time spent travelling was counterproductive in many ways due to multiple changes in modes of transport. I now work from home and love my home office where I can be a lot more effective with my time! The only downside is I miss face to face time with the teams, but this can be achieved when normalisation returns. I look forward to a good balance between home working and face to face collaboration.”
All we can say about Ewerton is, “watch this space!”.