Abigail Seager

Senior Systems Engineer, BBC

How I came to STEM

My parents, particularly my Dad, always instilled in me that I should study and take part in what I enjoyed and never mind what anyone else had to say about it! If it hadn’t been for my parents’ unwavering support in absolutely everything I tried, I might have stopped doing the things I loved because they were a bit ‘nerdy’ or ‘tomboyish’. I’m eternally grateful that they taught me to do what made me happy, that I can do anything as long as I’m willing to work hard – and that nothing is just for boys or just for girls.

Armed with a love for, and a fascination with, all things mathematical, logical or space-related (and an unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter!), I went to study Physics at the Uni of Nottingham. I joined a society there, where I learnt the skills of a live events technician, doing the sound and lighting for Student Union events. I then also worked as a technician at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour and a local theatre.

As much as I loved Physics, by my final year, I’d realised it probably wasn’t right for me long-term. So at the end of my degree, I was looking for something new and I applied to the BBC’s Broadcast Engineering Graduate Scheme.

I joined the BBC in 2014 and spent two years on a rotation programme whilst training and studying for a masters. I’m now a Systems Engineer working in connectivity; I help get video and sound from live event locations back to the studio.

Why I love what I do

There are lots of reasons I love what I do. It’s different every day, I get to travel, and I work with some incredibly talented engineers. Plus sometimes I get to see people watching things in hotel lobbies or on their phone on the tube and I smile to myself and think I made that possible. That’s a novelty that has never really worn off.

I work on a network which is used to getting live video and audio from events back to the studio. In 2018, we provided connectivity for two Royal Weddings, Wimbledon, the Proms, the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup, to name just a few projects we worked on. I get involved from the planning and designing stages, through to testing, implementing and sometimes even supporting events on-site. This year I went to South Korea to help set up and support the broadcast of the Winter Olympics. It’s an experience I’ll never forget and it’s the achievement I’m most proud of in my role.

When we’re not planning for events, we spend time developing and maintaining systems to help make broadcasting from remote locations easier and more reliable. We build monitoring systems, and plan and install broadcast networks in new locations; from London and Belfast, to Delhi and Nairobi.

What I’m proud of, & what I’m hoping to achieve through the WYPB

Going to an all girls high school, I didn’t appreciate that I was a minority in my fields of interest until I arrived at University. That first week was the first time I noticed the imbalance – and now I see it all the time; industry events, work meetings, and interview panels.

I hope as part of the WYPB, I can help to balance things. I’d like to banish the harmful stereotypes that plant seeds of doubt in children’s minds about what they should or shouldn’t do or like or be interested in.

I also firmly believe that men need to be active participants in the conversation about gender diversity; after all, diverse teams produce the best results! I hope as part of the WYPB I can better encourage other STEM diversity groups (such as WiSTEM in the BBC) to continue to promote an atmosphere where everyone, regardless of gender, age, or field, feels that they can do something to help redress the balance.

Posts, Projects & Events

  • Project (WYPB): Male-Allies for International Women’s Day
  • Project (WYPB): Negotiation Skills session at WISE Conference 2019
  • Project (WYPB): WISE Problem Solving Competition 2019
  • RiSE (Women in Broadcast) International Women’s Day Panel – 6th March 19
  • Wycombe High School Careers Talk Panel – 28th March & 5th November
  • BBC Birmingham, Internation girls in ICT day – 24th April 19
    • Hosted a practical activity where the girls could set up and film their own small outside broadcast
  • BBC Bristol STEM ambassador panel – 20th June 19.
    • Panel session to engage more volunteers to help run STEM events at BBC Bristol
  • Online article: RiSE In Focus
  • Uni of Nottingham Pathways to STEM graduation – 5th July 19.
    • Pathways to STEM is a scheme run in partnership with the University of Nottingham encouraging young people to apply for STEM degrees and participate in workshops, mentoring and study groups throughout the year to provide support in their STEM subjects at school. I presented at their graduation ceremony to inspire them to use their time at University to find out which areas of STEM are the best fit for them.
  • BBC Kudos Podcast – August 19
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