Meet the team: Enterprise Adviser, Mark Lloyd

Since the launch of our Enterprise Adviser programme in February 2016 over 60 senior business leaders from across the City Region have been matched with schools to help provide strategic direction to their employment engagement strategy, driving real business encounters for our City Region’s young people and helping them to make informed decisions about their working futures. Meet Enterprise Adviser Mark Lloyd, owner of Mark Lloyd Consultancy. We interviewed Mark about his career in the games industry and why he’s passionate about supporting the next generation of gamers through exposure to the world of business. Here’s what happened:

How did you start out in the gaming industry?

“I’ve always liked video games: BBC Micro Model B, the Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST and PC games. I played everything. When I left my job as an Aircraft Engineer in the RAF at the age of 30 gaming had really taken off and I was ready to make a career change. So I applied for a job to test video games at a small studio in Lincolnshire owned by Take-Two Interactive, Tarantula Studios, the parent company of Rockstar Games. I had begun what would be a 12 year journey of building a small Quality Assurance team into Take-Two’s primary, worldwide quality assurance studio. Leading a team of approximately 100 people, we facilitated the testing of over 200 titles in those 12 years, including, what was until June 2006, the best-selling PlayStation 2 game of all time.

I moved from Rockstar in 2011 and co-opened a mobile studio in Leeds, The Blast Furnace, with 50 permanent and 20 or so contractors. The studio closed in 2014 but I was still passionate about the games industry in the North and I saw a shift from people moving away from huge studios to start their own independent development studios. I realised that these people were struggling to find great coders, couldn’t get they exposure the wanted and didn’t know how to access finance. I set up my own consultancy business, Mark Lloyd Consultancy, shortly after to help small businesses, both in the games sector and outside it, to improve how they operate, help them to recruit new and talented staff and implement processes to help them grow.”

Why did you become an Enterprise Adviser?

"Throughout Leeds and the City Region there is an underground scene of indie games developers in who have set up small companies and are looking to make their own games and apps. Through my work with consultancy partnership, Impakt2, I saw a move by government and from organisations like the LEP to really build digital, technology and media in the North. This movement was already supported by local organisations like Game Republic and Creative Skillset but it seemed to me that we needed to start connecting the gaming scene to this movement earlier and, amongst other things, expose this talent to the tech industries and grow and support new talent directly within schools.

Young people start gaming early and it’s up to us to inform and empower them to think of gaming, not just as a hobby, but as a potential career. I feel passionately that we need to educate schools and teachers that this type of creativity can offer a long and fulfilling career. And we need to give teachers the tools and knowledge to pass that message on. That’s where being an Enterprise Adviser comes in. That way this incredibly creative and profitable industry can receive support from both the top, in terms of funding, and the bottom, in terms of a young, interested talent pool."

How did you get involved in the Enterprise Adviser programme?

"I was interested in commissioning a piece of research about the gaming industry in the Northern regions and I met with the members of the LEP’s Employment and Skills team to discuss this. One of the programme’s Enterprise Coordinators, Samantha Dymock (@DymockSamantha) quickly asked me if I was interested in a strategic role with a school and matched me with the David Young Community Academy in Leeds. The school and its student have a lot of creative and digital potential."

What do you do as an Enterprise Adviser?

"I sit down with the school leaders and work out how we can engage students with the world of work. I may advise and help the academy come up with sector specific plans or support them with their overall employment engagement strategy. Most of all I talk to as many people as possible, students and teachers, to change their assumption that gaming is a career, not just a hobby. I’ve held a few sessions with students to talk about how to get into the industry [ed note: Mark has also written a brilliant post for parents on How to turn gaming into a career available soon], the different types of roles available and how to approach developers to get experience.

My role as an Enterprise Adviser is fundamentally to get people, young people, really excited about what work is. To engage them and empower them to think of their interests as potential career options, to show them the different routes available and to inspire them to think about the next 40-50 years of their life."

- as told to the LEP.

Interested in joining the programme? Find out more or read Mark's 3 of the best tips for the budding Enterprise Adviser blog.