“I have always been very passionate about supporting and nurturing new talent – on and off screen – and to see people I have worked with in the early parts of their careers go on to succeed is hugely satisfying”
Claire McArdle (MA Victorian Studies, 2013) is the CEO of Element Studios UK, a production studio with a focus on sports and entertainment. During her career in media production, she has held roles at Viacom International, Maverick Television, and Channel 4.
“I love working in an environment that has a balance of creativity and strategy, and the area that I work in is perfect in that regard” she tells us. “A lot of my role involves making sure that my very talented team have what they need to deliver brilliant ideas and programming. Our work is very collaborative, so I spend a lot of time working with people outside of our company – be that onscreen talent, agents, other production companies – to bring together the strongest team of people to make a particular project happen“.
She also feels fortunate to be able to combine personal passions with her professional life. “I am a massive football fan, and being able to work with some of the incredibly talented and legendary players that we’ve worked with over the last few years has been fantastic”.
Claire has worked on several award-winning projects during her career. She highlights a collaboration with the charity Cancer Research UK, whilst she was working for Maverick Television, as a project of which she is especially proud. “We created a game called Reverse the Odds, which involved players analysing cancer cells. It won lots of awards (including an International Emmy) but the really satisfying part was knowing that we had made a real tangible difference to the research that was being undertaken to change treatments, and ultimately save people’s lives”.
She acknowledges that she came to working in the industry through an unconventional route, completing a PhD in Ecclesiastical History. “I love history as an academic pursuit, and I was very passionate about my research area” she states, “however, I knew fairly quickly that academia wasn’t the right environment for me. I knew that I needed to be in a more fast-paced environment”.
Returning to Birkbeck to study Victorian Studies allowed Claire to reconnect with her interest in history and literature and to give her “academic side a bit of a run out“. “For me, Birkbeck was all about doing something away from my work environment, that would allow me to use a bit of my brain that was feeling a little neglected”.