A Week in My Life: Mikael Hellberg, Head of Games at Access to Games

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

This week Mikael Hellberg, Head of Games at Access to Games, runs us through a week in his working life. To suggest another senior media or creative figure for A Week In My Life, please email david@prolificnorth.co.uk.

Monday 28th August

A normal week in my life doesn’t really exist and in my department, we diverge from the idea of having regular Monday meetings as it would make our schedules far too inflexible. Instead, we meet, either in person or over Google Hangout, when we need to.

Personally, I plan my working week as the last order of business on Friday afternoons. This way I have a clear picture of what I need to do and where I need to be the following week before I enjoy my weekend.

Our organisation has offices all around the country, with myself being based at the head office in Manchester, and on this particular Monday I am off on the early morning train to our centre in Birmingham to partake in a staff training day for our Curriculum team, and to give a presentation on our new courses and the video games industry in general. Our Birmingham centre often acts as the go-to location for staff gatherings as it is, geographically, in the most central spot for our organisation, and it is always a great feeling walking down from the Birmingham New Street train station to Digbeth, where our centre is, and take in the historic neighbourhoods and architecture.

All in all it’s been a successful day and I received a great deal of feedback and ideas from our Curriculum team which I now need to implement on the train back north.

Tuesday 29th August

Today I get to start my morning in the head office feeling like a bit of a celebrity as Phoebe, our offline marketing executive, is having me star in a photoshoot, which hopefully will result in some pictures of me looking presentable and somewhat professional. Hah!

After nearly going blind from the cameras’ incessant flashing I have lined up a couple of phone interviews with potential new staff members for our Game Design courses around the country. Luckily all of the candidates I speak to come across really well and seem eager to join our ranks.

After shortlisting which candidates we wish to arrange a face-to-face interview with, I am off to a meeting with Martha Sama. Martha works for MIDAS, Manchester’s investment agency, and today’s meeting is about introducing Access to Games and discussing how we can work together in the best ways possible in the future.

After a very productive meeting with MIDAS I am instantly thrown into another meeting, this time with Sam Rushton from Creative England. Sam is a project officer for Games and Digital and this meeting is about showing what Access to Games is up to and explore how we can be a part of Creative England’s national strategy and events.

After a very busy day and have made some really good connections with local and national trade organisations I am off home for my weekly Tuesday swimming session with my fiancé.

Wednesday 30th August

Another early morning train journey down south, this time to Nottingham. We don’t have a centre in Nottingham but we do have a lot of different partnerships there which, today, I and business development director Jason Beaumont are looking to explore further.

We start off the day with a meeting with the curriculum staff at Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies. Confetti is one of our sub-contractors and delivers similar courses as Access to Music in the greater Nottingham area. The goal of today’s meeting is to explore collaboration opportunities and share ideas about how to best combine our efforts to improve both curriculum and industry connections.

After our meeting with the staff at Confetti, me and Jason head over to The National Videogame Arcade, a non-profit organisation based in the city centre of Nottingham which offers interactive sessions for kids of all ages to learn about and explore the colourful history of video games and their creation. Our meeting with the organisation’s managing director, Iain Simons, focused around potential collaboration and franchising of their highly successful model of engaging with both kids, parents and schools.

After our meeting with The NVA we head straight into a meeting with a team of developers from the Nottingham-based game studio Lockwood Publishing. Lockwood is mostly known for their critically acclaimed game called ‘Avakin Life’, a social game for all ages. The meeting focused mostly on introducing Access to Games and exploring the possibilities of our students being set live briefs by the studio as well as the potential for guest speaking opportunities. We leave the meeting, and Nottingham, feeling satisfied and excited about our future collaborative possibilities!

Thursday 31st August

Today I am heading up a game design taster day in our head office in Manchester. This is a mainly a keep warm activity for learners who have already applied to our courses and are waiting to start in the beginning of September. These activities are always loads of fun and I make an active effort to be involved in these as often as possible to ensure that I both get to meet our soon-to-be students but also to make notes of how we can improve our recruitment strategy in the future.

This particular taster day is spread across the entire day and offers an insight into the tools and software that will be used on the course as well as some team building exercises, game tournaments and similar, to give everyone a chance to get to know their new classmates.

The day is a massive success and we broke a record in the number of attending students, so to celebrate the team and I head to the local pub for a pint or two.

Friday 1st September

Looking forward to a fairly quiet day in the office as the week has been a hectic one. In the morning I have a meeting with our head of estates Collette, who is taking me through the plans for turning the ground floor at the head office into creative space for our new students starting in September, as well as the new branding on the front of the building. It’s all looking great!

After lunch I have a meeting with Sean, our quality and learner services manager, to iron out some last-minute bumps in preparation for the start of term. Being a national training provider with centres in eight cities around the country takes a lot of planning and managing to ensure that we provide the same learner experience across the group. Luckily we manage to solve all of today’s challenges without ruining the Friday feeling.

To round of my Friday afternoon I prepare my to-do list on Trello and sync my calendar for next week, and it looks like I’ve got another non-stop week in my life to look forward to. But before that, roll on the weekend!

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