Only 12 miles away from the GSM Greenford campus is one of most of the most exciting industrial locations in the whole of the UK. Within its boundaries work individuals who are world leaders in their highly specialised field. They are quite simply the best money can hire.
Who are they? Where is this extraordinary place? They are the folk of Leavesden studios; the location is an old airfield and former Rolls Royce factory site. Nowadays it is far better known as home to “Warner Bros Studios & The making of Harry Potter.”
Here the skills of the computer science technician are combined with those of more traditional filmmakers. As a story of decline and rebirth, it is a case study of how out of the ruins of one industry, another can grow.
In the 1970s Rolls Royce (Aircraft Engines) was the key employer in South West Herts, providing hundreds of jobs for skilled engineers working on naval helicopter engines. But it was not to last. Following a long period of decline the factory finally closed in 1994 with the loss of many jobs. But all was not lost and slowly but surely the reputation of the film studios who took over the site grew. Nowadays employees work on computer screens, rather than engineering lathes. The opportunities are for computer science graduates and those with marketing expertise. It is the family filmgoer who is the customer now, not the Royal Navy.
This is a world of visual deception and entertaining illusion, whether it is on the cinema screen or in the wider world of advertising, and creative branding. At the forefront of these new developments are often household consumer brands. You only have to take a look at what Pepsi Max did with the humble bus shelter to see what I mean.
The UK leads the world in in the use of CGI techniques, which in turn offers exciting career opportunities for computer science and marketing graduates. No more it seems are IT professionals confined by the boundaries of the IT department.
Today Leavesden Studios continues to blossom and as I drove past it just recently another new set was being erected as a backdrop to no doubt more cinematic magic. I felt encouraged, and the significance of the transformation of the site suddenly dawned on me. The learning point is this. In 2014 both industries and individuals must be prepared to adapt and change to survive, and most important of all, to never stop learning. Just because one industry dies or one set of skills are no longer required, it does not mean that decline and decay must follow.
So lights, camera, action! …… let the story continue.