Spotlight: Thomas Urbye – CEO @ The Look

Thomas is the CEO of high-end TV and film post production company, The Look. It is recognised as a leading player, working with Netflix, Amazon, BBC, Sky, Apple and HBO, on series such as Gangs of London, Fleabag, Top Boy, Sex Education and Landscapers.

Thomas shared with us his top 3 innovation areas.

“Streamers have demanded ever higher picture quality, and that means we are often at the cutting edge of what is technically and creatively possible. This requires innovation in working practices, as well as constant equipment investment.

1. Solving the time management trap

By far the best changes we have made is the way we manage our people, rooms and systems, treating them all as ‘resources’. I have evangelised to other CEOs that allowing people to manage their own time is a trap to disorganised and unhappy employees.

We have seen great improvements in efficiency and happiness by having small teams coordinated by a single ‘Team Co-ordinator’. Each morning team members arrive and have their day arranged for them, with differing projects allocated to them throughout their day based on time required to complete the task needed that day – no more, no less. They will flag anything that isn’t sensible and can decline these ‘bookings’ as needed.

The result is they maximise their day and feel more has been accomplished as they ‘time report’ each booking with their progress and notes to the Co-ordinator – they even get a slot for lunch and leave on time.

I think a lot of companies could benefit from this kind of resource management and project tracking, as it gives big data on a variety of business activities. Staff can initially push back as they fear their day will no longer be theirs to control, but in fact it helps them have clear vision and not react to their inbox or get distracted all day, plus meetings between people become less necessary as project stage information is being shared via a central resource management tool and tracked by the Co-ordinator to report to senior leaders.

2. Automating repetitive tasks

The other main innovation we have embraced is the automation of repetitive tasks using Python scripting. This is a way of controlling systems using a series of commands to carry out intelligent data transfers, analysis and processing. This allows huge time saving both between our systems and databases both local and in the cloud.

Imagine you have lots of information in one system that needs to be spread across other databases fast – Python can allow you to select specific data and filter it & push it anywhere you like rather than a human looking it up one step at a time.

Essentially you automate the boring stuff! It can saves hours of time, that leaves team members focusing on more rewarding tasks, both for them, and for the company as once they get in to automation they then keep asking “shouldn’t we just automate this?” This creates a positive change in mindset, and we can take on more profitable creative work.

3. Creating corporate memories

Post pandemic I’m an advocate of creating corporate memories. I firmly believe company culture has to be maintained and grown from regular in-person communication. Exchanging innovation ideas usually happen more regularly face to face and often unprompted. As such, most of my team come in at least twice a week. We keep the music going, order in cakes and actively try to have fun in and around work challenges. This creates FOMO for other staff so they are keen to come in. As raised by a IP speaker, you don’t create memories on a zoom call!

Innovation Partnership has very been helpful through their fantastic speakers and the exchange of ideas. Debating remote and onsite working and discussing future trends post pandemic has opened my mind to differing approaches and thought diversity. I like the fact I’m sat next to a big corporate who have oddly not dissimilar challenges in people engagement and change management.”

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Corina Balaneanu

Founder, Innovation Partnership

IP is a board and C-suite network focused solely on innovation and change. 👉 Matchmaking - sourcing pioneering solutions and connecting corporates with other corporates or startups. 👉 Roundtables - monthly discussions showcasing innovation and change management case studies.