Interview with Matt Ridsdale

To mark our 15th year in business our founder Wayne Reynolds is interviewing a wide range of highly accomplished corporate affairs leaders about their experience and views of the function. This interview is with Matt Ridsdale who leads corporate affairs at media and entertainment giant Sky.

CV

Group Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Sky (current)

Executive Director, Camelot (2017 to 2023)

Joint Chief Executive, Tavistock (2005 to 2017)

What advice would you give to yourself 15 years ago?

Say yes to everything and run towards opportunities, however left field they may seem. Challenge yourself to fill in the pieces of the experience puzzle missing in your career. I started my working life in a reasonably small PR agency and there was an expectation to get stuck in and make things happen. That breadth of experience pays dividends as you go through your career.

How has corporate affairs changed over the last 15 years, and what do you expect next?

Corporate affairs is a more strategic function today, one that manages your relationships and reputation with every audience via every available medium and that makes it more challenging. 24 hour news brought about significant change but fifteen years ago we weren’t contending with the challenges and opportunities of social media. Looking ahead, we’re already battling an assault on truth and that is only going to become harder when widespread use of AI means that people have to question what they see and hear. Akin to the industrial revolution or dawn of the internet, it will fundamentally change society and we will have to react to a paradigm shift.

What three skills does a modern-day corporate affairs director need?  And if you could pick only one, which would it be and why?

Judgement, perspective, and a clear set of personal values. For me, first among these is judgement. Opinions are great but to make difficult decisions you need good judgement. Perspective is crucial: it’s important not to get lost in the detail or disappear into a bubble. And finally being clear on your own values and purpose, and being authentic to these, will underpin your judgement and advice, even when it’s unpopular.

What do you love about the job?

That there’s a lot of ambiguity. Often there isn’t an obviously correct answer but it’s your job to help make the best decision in the circumstances. It’s knowing the direction you need to travel and having a compass but no map, and I love that.

If you didn’t work in corporate affairs, what would you do instead?

There’s a wonderful Italian restaurant I like to go to, run by two brothers who make brilliant fresh food with no fuss. I think I’d like to run something like that.

What was the last book you read?

“Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon” by Michael Lewis.

What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind?

The West Wing, I think I must have watched it at least eight times.

What do you enjoy doing away from the office?

Hanging out with my family, eating Italian food and watching tv!

If you enjoyed this you may also like Wayne’s interview with Lisa Tremble, Chief People, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer at British Airways.

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19th February 2024

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