Natalie Orchard

Assistant Producer

I started my working life as an A Level Psychology and Sociology teacher. I taught hundreds of students over nine years before I decided to look for a new challenge. My next stop was Education Consultancy, where I worked with local and central Government on a host of educational programmes. I eventually set up my own Education Consultancy and Project Management company, working with local authorities and schools.

However, a few years later, whilst lying on a sun lounger in Tenerife sipping a cold glass of Sangria I announced to my best friend, “I don’t want to be an Education Consultant or Project Manager any more, I wanna work in TV!” And being the best friend one could ever have, she replied “Go for it!” So, when I got home, I literally Googled “How to get into TV”. My career in telly started from that moment.

After two unsuccessful attempts, I made it to the Edinburgh TV Festival as a ‘Networker’ in 2014, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I met such a variety of people and worked alongside some great individuals who worked for the BBC, Endemol, Sky, and many more. The opportunities The Network provides and the people you get to meet truly do support your career from that point on.

Following The Network, delegates receive emails about roles and opportunities through the Network at Work scheme. This is how I heard about the ‘Open Newsroom’ day at CNN in London, which turned out to be a game-changer for me. It connected me to some extremely important people within the CNN London Bureau. Whilst having an open conversation with the Head of Programming, she suggested I apply for their Internship programme. I went on to successfully apply for the Newsdesk internship, and thereafter I continued at CNN as a journalist for a year.

My ultimate goal was to work in Entertainment/Factual Entertainment. My next role was on Rip Off Britain, and from that I got a Researcher role on Dragon’s Den … the rest is history!

Two things I need to mention. Firstly, not only does The Network open doors that are normally locked, it pairs you with a mentor from the Ones To Watch scheme. My mentor was, and still is, fantastic – he has guided and supported me throughout my TV career and we’re still really good friends. And secondly, if it wasn’t for The Network, I do not believe I would have ever made it into television. The contacts, the ‘network’ of people it connected me to, the events it put on, really helped my career and I feel ever indebted to the wonderful people behind it and who had the faith in me to give me a go!

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