From education to employment

Keeping His Eye on the Ball

From not knowing where he wanted to go in life to working his way to a dream job which combines a passion for sport and travel, past @S_ERC student Philip Martin has certainly reached his goal @Hawkeye_view.

Philip (27), from Dundonald says, “After my AS levels at Methodist College Belfast I decided to take a year out.   I really didn’t know what I wanted to do study or career-wise so it seemed the perfect time to take a gap year which I spent travelling across Australia and New Zealand. I am glad I did because I felt it helped me focus on the career that I wanted, and I knew it had to involve sport. I played to a decent standard at MCB and played for Malone Rugby Club.

“When I returned to Northern Ireland, I enrolled in SERC’s Level 2 Gym Instructor and worked part time job as Strength and Conditioning Coach at Belfast Royal Academy as well as completing a summer internship with Ulster Rugby.   It was a good fit for me as I was able to combine studies with work.

“Following that I enrolled on the UU Foundation Degree in Sports Science, Coaching and Fitness, also at SERC.  It was a really good course and again meant I was able to continue working and study.   Sometimes it was hard to stay motivated, but most of my classmates where in the same boat, working and studying and the tutors kept the course well-paced and interesting and I knew that would lead me to the BSc in Sports Science at Loughborough which was my goal.

“At SERC, they had lots of guest speakers from the sports industry and it was great to hear about the opportunities and job roles available.   It was a speaker from Hawk-Eye Innovation, part of Sony, that caught my attention as it is one of the biggest technology-based sports companies in the world.  Before I had finished my degree, I did research them and applied for one of their interview and assessment days.   The calibre of candidates was very high, but I knew I had qualifications, skills and experience and was offered the post of Systems Operator.   Since then, I have progressed to a senior position and am now Operations Manager for the Tennis department. Hawk-Eye Innovation is based in Basingstoke and my role is UK based with global travel, so I am able to base myself here in Northern Ireland.

Philip said, “Most recently I have been out in Melbourne Park setting up the Hawk-eye system on all 16 courts with 40 plus people for the Australian Open which runs from 8 to 21 February. Our exciting new Hawk-Eye Live Line Calling system is a totally automated system the eliminates the need for line judges and makes the game fairer with less room for human error. I am glad to be part of the project team and playing a crucial part of the return of tennis on this global scale.

“My role involves pre-planning months before an event with the tournament directors and many professional bodies such as the International Tennis Federation.  This requires a tremendous amount of internal planning of staff and kit logistics and driving high standards during set up and delivery at major events to ensure accuracy and flawless service. I am also responsible for the health and safety of my team which has been challenging this year, particularly due to long quarantine periods and Covid-19 testing.  Another aspect of my role is communication and management of business to business with tennis associations, organisers and broadcasting.

He continued, “One of the best things about my job is the amount of travel involved. I’ve been to Russia, China, America, Japan and Australia. Hawk-Eye are involved with 20+ different sports and encourage cross-department work and I was lucky enough to work at the Rugby world cup in Japan which was a dream come true for any fan and player of the sport. I am part of the Project Team for the postponed Tokyo Olympics and am looking forward to planning for 2021.

Giving advice to anyone interested in a career in this area, Philip said, “After working in the industry for several years now, I am still surprised at the number of exciting roles and opportunities available. Look closely at the main players in the market and be prepared to travel.   Do your research, talk to people in the industry and don’t be afraid to reach to people even at senior level.   

“There is growth in sports technology as sports bodies and players increasing rely heavily on information, analytics and performance review. Competition organizers are continually looking at ways to provide more accurate procedures and cost-effective ways to deliver sport.  Hawk-Eye Live Production is a good example of this were automated player tracking cameras and intelligent production software streamline the production workflow. We see this system becoming more widely used in sports and international competitions such as the Premier League.

Philip, who recently got engaged and is set to marry Ashleigh Stobo from Belfast this September, concluded, “Sport is all about people and even in individual sports there is always a team involved. In my line of work teamwork is essential, most especially when you are required to attend a major sporting tournament where you will be working long hours away from home. For me, delivering the work through to the highest standard is like game, set and match.”

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Caption: Eye on the ball: SERC past student, Philip Martin (27), from Dundonald, who completed the Foundation Degree in Sports Science, Coaching and Fitness.  Philip is Operations Manager with Hawk-Eye Innovations, part of Sony and one of the biggest technology-based sports companies in the world.

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