March 2, 2022

Project Spotlight: Sky Early Talent Development Programme

4 min read
By Khairunnisa Mohamedali PhD

5 ways our data-driven partnership with Sky aided their early talent programme

Click here to read the full case study on the ISE Knowledge Hub

Our partnership with Sky aimed to re-imagine and re-build their early talent (ET) development programme. Together, a data-driven, behavioural science-based and market-relevant partnership formed that resulted in a unique (and uniquely Sky) development experience, anchored in ET, line manager and business needs.

The result was a comprehensive ET development journey, fit-for-purpose, future-ready and flexible to shifting business needs – one that was quite literally tested when Covid-19 struck. Our data-driven partnership allowed Sky to pivot the entire programme to virtual in a few weeks without sacrificing impact, value or experience.

United by the goal to create a graduate programme that would be able to bring Sky’s culture to life, we agreed three key working principles for our partnership: Get comfortable, challenge each other and use data for everything.

This laid the foundation for the five elements of our data-driven approach that would follow:

1. Co-creation

We collaborated with business-wide Sky stakeholders at all levels to understand needs and co-create. This meant:

  • Co-creating the development journey with Sky’s ET, line managers and business leaders using careful sampling methods to ensure a holistic and inclusive experience
  • Using design thinking and ethnographic methods to ground data in rigorous methodology.
  • Validating outputs from co-creation with Sky stakeholders.

2. Responsive collaboration

Our data-driven approach enabled responsiveness, agility, and quick pivots once Covid-19 hit. Together with Sky, and using data gathered on our ways of working, we adapted during the pandemic:

  • Halved time spent on meetings.
  • Strengthened communications to crystallise responsibility and accountability.
  • Designed new processes for virtual co-creation.
  • Constantly collected and rapidly responded to participant feedback, including 48-hour turnarounds, to ensure participants drew value from the experience and felt valued.

3. Authentic connection

As we were navigating the change and complexity brought by Covid-19, we realised in conversations with Sky that building a connection grounded in shared purpose and values and equipping ET during challenging times was critical for the programme’s success. This led us to focus our partnership on:

  • Being human first, rather than client-supplier (150+ human check-ins and one in four meetings dedicated to reflection/celebration)
  • Enabling a high level of long-term trust
  • Ensuring a reliable and solid foundation for collaboration

4. Openness and experimentation

The programme’s virtual pivot required we adopt new technologies, with minimal disruption, to design and deliver a stand-out experience for graduates/apprentices and the business. Together, we moved to more agile ways of working, always backed by data:

  • Increased scrum-style brainstorms
  • Tested, iterated, evaluated (50+ iterations of designs using new technology without impacting timelines or budget)
  • Embedded a strong feedback loop to ensure we were always learning efficiently

5. Bifocal approach

As an essential service provider, Sky had to address the immediate demands of the pandemic without derailing longer term strategic development imperatives. Through our partnership, we:

  • Responded to evolving business needs
  • Ensured longer-term strategic development goals were embedded into everything
  • Continuously researched and identifed key emerging skills for the immediate and long-term


  • 250+ people across Sky engaged in 1500+ hours of collaborative design
  • 238 graduates/apprentices touched through 45+ learning interventions
  • 99% Participants feel confident to try new things and learn new skills
  • 97% would recommend to their peers
  • 98% have a better understanding of how to work successfully in a changing environment

The impact of the partnership can be felt throughout the rest of Sky, too. Sky’s Head of Early Careers noted “TST have redefined what a working partnership should be. Ours is based on innovation, data, and trust.” The partnership went on to be awarded “Outstanding Employer and Supplier Development Partnership” at the ISE Awards 2021.

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