Holland Park interviewed Alex Payne, Rugby Union presenter for Sky Sports, to find out how his education has influenced his career choice and success.
Job title and company: Rugby Union presenter, Sky Sports
Education: Sandroyd School, Eton College, Edinburgh University
Would you be doing what you are now if you’d been to a different school?
Probably not. Eton gave me several things. One of them is the ability to handle pressure. It is a pressurised environment there; it challenges you constantly. Then, when you find what you want to do, you can handle it.
Another important thing I learned at Eton was the confidence to go for it. My passion was always rugby. I used to spend all my time as a child recording rugby matches on the TV at home. My mother always said: “You’ve got to find something else to do, because you won’t be able to watch rugby for a living!”
I started out at Sky photocopying, making tea and earning £13,000. I did that because I was confident that it would lead me to where I wanted to be.
Were any of your teachers especially inspirational?
Mr Fowler, the Geography teacher and rugby coach at my prep school, instilled confidence in me as well. I hadn’t been a hugely confident child – but rugby was the thing I loved, and he made me captain of the First XI. That action ignited rugby for me – and it’s why I do what I do today. I tried harder at Geography after that, too!
What did your education give you that you are most grateful for?
Eton is an extraordinary school. It gives you every opportunity to find what you’re good at; then, once you find it – if you commit to it – Eton gives you the chance to excel at it. It also gave me some very good friends.
Alex is a presenter on Sky Sports’s live coverage of Rugby Union, and he was one of the youngest presenters on the channel when he started. He is now the lead presenter of their coverage of English and European Rugby and hosts coverage of England’s Internationals. Alex began his television career as a presenter on the ‘Rugby Club’ before travelling to New Zealand as the reporter on the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour.