Introducing Interns – Say Hello To Max
Prior to PPL, Max completed his degree in Philosophy in Bristol and went on to work as a Communications Assistant at a children’s palliative care charity. His career continued within the NHS, working both in project management and recruitment. These days, you will find him delving deep into data as an International Operations Coordinator within the PPL International Team.
Max, tell us what your role at PPL entails.
As an International Operations Coordinator, my day-to-day job involves assisting the International Team in managing PPL’s relationship with other CMOs (collective management organisations) around the globe. This can include anything from monitoring data quality on large data sets to sending emails. As a team, we do a lot of data analysis on recordings played in overseas countries and we claim for the performers and recording rightsholders that we represent to get them proper remuneration.
When you joined PPL, did it seem like a whole new world to you?
I had a very limited knowledge of music licensing beforehand. I’d heard some horror stories from the media, such as Taylor Swift signing away the rights to her music earlier in her career, but I knew little in practice. Also, on a granular level, I’d never done a job so heavily based on using Excel – that a was a big shift for me. What the International Team – and PPL – does is very data driven and that was new to me.
How did you land your role at PPL?
My route into it was quite unusual. I’ve come through Leonard Cheshire – a charity which supports disabled individuals across the UK. I was in 2nd year at university when I was diagnosed with dyslexia and, when I went to a careers fair in Bristol for young people who had just graduated at the end of their studies, I heard about the Change 100 programme. It’s their flagship programme of paid summer work placements for graduates. I went through the selection process earlier this year and expressed an interest in being matched to a creative role. When I saw the PPL job description, it threw me a little; I wasn’t ready for how data heavy it would be, and it wasn’t something that I would have put myself forward for. But I have really enjoyed it so far.
Would you say that dyslexia has impacted the earlier stages of your career?
Definitely. Finding out that I had dyslexia was revelatory – a lot of things that happened in school started to make sense. For example, when I was doing my GCSEs and A Levels, I would often never finish the exam paper. I would run out of time as I couldn’t physically write fast enough. For me, dyslexia manifests itself in a slow processing speed. It takes a lot longer for me to process information.
Does that influence your enjoyment of certain jobs?
Yes, that’s why data and Excel was something I used to shy away from and was a challenge to get my head around. I always hated maths and lots of numbers – I lean more towards creative and design work or anything where you can have a conversation and articulate yourself rather than write it down. I now understand that I need to plan my career around what I’m more naturally suited to.
What have you most enjoyed about working at PPL so far?
It’s been great to become more proficient in Excel and using spreadsheets. That’s been really big for me. It has also been enjoyable to learn about something I’d never thought about having a career in. It’s easy to forget about the mechanics of how musicians get paid when you’re consuming music. My team has also been so welcoming and accommodating. All my colleagues have been generous with their time and supportive in my training. Working in a team with a feeling of genuine cooperation and teamworking has been very enjoyable – especially when you know what the alternative is like. Alongside the internship, the Change 100 scheme also provides me with a mentor at PPL (David Tonks, who has been massively useful) alongside monthly professional development sessions. The office is also very cool!
How has it been working part office, part from home?
The day before I started, it was really hard to get my head around the fact that I would be starting a new job but working from home. But I’ve liked the hybrid approach and I’m really looking forward to being in the office two days per week from 20th September so I can meet more people. As a team, we have a check point meeting every morning which has been useful – it’s nice to see everyone’s face every day. Once a week, we also have open sessions where you can ask questions to more senior colleagues if there is anything you’re struggling with – for example, quirks related to collecting royalties from overseas territories. We also had a team building day where we welcomed two new joiners – it started with breakfast at Dishoom which I was buzzing about!
What would you say you’ve learnt so far in your role?
If I had to pick out one thing it would be the Excel skills and using formulae in a more active way. My manager, Michael (Whitehead), had to teach me VLOOKUPS and had to write longer formulae for me. When he went on holiday, I was using a spreadsheet which he had prepared for me; but when I went back to it, all the formulae were gone. After the initial 10 minutes of wanting to throw the computer out the window, I rewrote them. It was a minor thing that people in my team do every day, but I felt like I’d really achieved something.
I’ve also learnt about music licensing and the wider music industry as a possible career. I’m really passionate about music and love finding out about different careers. I remember going to a talk at university by an A&R guy at Ninja Tune – I thought that I would love his job one day but couldn’t ever see it happening. I believed that music was one of those creative industries which was really difficult to get into…you have to work for free and it’s about who you know – it felt completely impenetrable. So this becoming a reality has made me think that maybe I can give it a go with the experience that I’ve got – not just with data roles but with communications or relationship-based opportunities. One of the main things I wanted to get out of the Change 100 scheme was working in a job where I enjoy the subject matter, and so this has been a great opportunity to get more control over that. It feels like something I could now pursue.
How have you developed your relationship with Michael as your manager?
I couldn’t have asked for more in a manager – he’s been really supportive, frequently taking the time to check that my workload is manageable and that I understand what I’m doing. Given how busy he is, I massively appreciate it. He’s also got to know me as a person which is the main thing; that helps with that sense of teamworking. Just having a conversation to get to know and appreciate you as a person and not an employee is important. I can’t praise him enough.