Brexit has been “total hell” to cover as a journalist, BBC Breakfast TV presenter Steph McGovern confessed. “There’s a lack of accountability, people can just lie.”
Appearing in a cherry red suit on the Keynote Stage at the Safety Expo, the former winner of Britain’s young engineer, McGovern was a breath of fresh air and frank views. Her talk was a whistle-stop tour through her career starting out with no live TV experience, awkward in block heels and peroxide hair, to the passionate advocate for business and equal opportunities that she is today.
In between anecdotes she dispensed friendly advice. Recalling how, after the boss of Blackberry persistently dodged basic questions in order to plug his product on BBC TV, he lost his job and saw his firm’s share price tank. “Talk in plain English,” she said. “We’re all terrified about giving the right message.”
She added: “It’s important to be yourself, I didn’t change how I am, how I speak.”
A child of a business-sponsored education – her Middlesbrough school was funded by British American Tobacco, which introduced pupils to local businesses – she has a different view on ways into work and success. “We assess children aged five for their academic skills, but vocational training is not valued.”
She wants companies to work on attracting people into their sector to address skills shortages. “Get youngsters where you work to film what’s going on. YouTube is great for appealing to the young,” she said.
The change she’s brought to the BBC, is, she hopes, broad coverage that reflects the different experiences and contributions of working people all over the UK. “I wanted to make a difference to the BBC, to reflect life outside of the political bubble. It’s why I’ve made it my mission to visit as many factories and businesses as possible.”
Safety & Health Expo 2019 took place over 18-20 June at ExCel in London
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