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Introducing Speechmark: A podcast about transformation and connectivity

02 Nov 2019Technology

Prefer listening to reading? Speechmark is the new podcast from Vodafone, looking at the transformative power of technology. We caught up with the team behind it to find out how a team of technology graduates from across the company get together to make it.

Podcasts are bigger than ever, with more than 700,000 out there in over a hundred languages.

Speechmark is Vodafone’s contribution – created by a team from across the company, telling stories about the transformative power of connectivity.

Most of them came from Vodafone’s technology graduate scheme. We caught up with some of them to find out more – Armen Bodossian, Chris Jennings, Josie Semple and Lucas Cesford.

Some subsequently stayed with the company – others, including host Ellie Williams, have moved on to new opportunities thanks to the experience gained during the two year programme.

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How did the podcast come about?

Armen: The brief of the competition was to come up with an idea that demonstrated the breadth of technology that Vodafone is interested in and actively doing.

Chris: The podcast was born out of an Ideathon – a design thinking based festival of innovation run by eRIS, the organisation’s internal ideas incubator.

With enough podcast lovers around the table, it was clear that the answer to every problem was going to look like a podcast! We were all firm believers in the power of podcasting as a medium.

It’s an incredibly authentic and expressive way to get across your values and interests, and showcase stories that people might not otherwise have the chance to connect with.

The biggest challenge was selling this idea to people who had maybe not listened to podcasts before. However, the real power of eRIS is that we were afforded a huge degree of trust and belief and told to go and get on with it.

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What was the biggest challenge pulling it together?

Armen: Creating a podcast is not as easy as hitting the record button.

You need to source stories, find a producer, arrange recordings around guests busy timelines, finding somewhere quiet to record, edit recordings, get signoffs, write show content – and do all that whilst focusing on your normal day job.

This has been the trickiest aspect – however it is worth putting in the many extra hours to do something you genuinely have a great interest in.

Lucas: Coordinating with so many teams to produce this was our biggest task, but we have been lucky enough to be surrounded by the best people for the job.

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What are you most proud of?

Armen: I am proud of being able to showcase a great variety of stories both from inside and also outside Vodafone.

Although each is different, they are unified with the common theme of implementing technology in ways that will affect society for the better

Chris: What I’m most proud of is that we were able to successfully use the podcast as a way to tell the stories we wanted to tell, and to set the tone of the company’s message in this medium.

This was just an experiment, but I think now everyone has an appetite for podcasts and will keep it up after this short series finishes.

Lucas: I am most proud of the cheery attitude by which the team has operated since we started this project over a year ago.

We have met loads of new people from all areas of the company, and have had the chance to listen to some leading voices in the most interesting areas.

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What advice would you give other people keen to get into podcasting?

Chris: My advice is think about the message you want to get across, and how you want to tell it.

Next, build a passionate and creative team around you who will help you realise your goal. Finally, be curious, and find people and topics that really interest you. That way, you’ll get the best out of them.

Lucas: First things first, LISTEN TO THEM (podcasts). Listen to as many as you can, in all areas, but particularly the area that you want to work in. See what works, what doesn’t work, what you don’t like, and go from there.

Armen: One key takeaway is remembering that when you undertake a project like this, structure is key.

Clearly mark out each step from episode definition all the way to podcast final draft. This should tell you the volume of work required and the timescales needed.

Our workload was also greatly depleted due to our excellent producer from Paddle Productions, without whose speed, creative touch and professional setup we would have struggled to get this out.

What do you want people to get from the podcast?

Chris: An appreciation that the technology that drives connectivity is inexplicably linked to culture and people, and that as we create new technology, we create new stories that are fascinating to hear.

Lucas: Vodafone has a huge amount that it offers, and works on – we don’t just sell phone contracts.

The company funds some incredible initiatives, and is sophisticated in more areas than the public would realise.

Armen: I want listeners to immerse themselves in the stories and reflect on the thought: can I also impact society with technology?

Finally, I hope this podcast encourages people to want to learn more about each story, either by visiting the Gigalife website or if they have any questions, emailing at gigalife [a] [vodafone.com.

You can subscribe and listen to Speechmark on Apple podcasts and Spotify.

And if you like what you hear – find out more about working at Vodafone and current career opportunities here.

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