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Candidate Stories: Ziyaad Desai, ITV Studios

Ziyaad swapped a career in asset management for the bright lights and shiny floors of ITV – and he is not looking back…

In his year as one of the first Creative Access interns at ITV, Ziyaad spent time with a variety of production companies including Potato and Shiver, as a runner on shows such as The Pride Of Britain Awards and Big Reunion.

“I did have a moment, standing in the wings at the Hammersmith Apollo watching fortysomething women losing their minds to Abz from Five, when I thought to myself: ‘I was on the trading floor four months ago and now I’m at this insane reunion’”

During his ITV tenure, Desai also worked on history documentaries and gameshows. He says the variety of formats he was exposed to was as much of an education as the skills he learned along the way.

He adds that the formalised training and masterclasses offered by Creative Access were critical in helping him realise that a career in the media was within his grasp. “The industry still relies on friends of friends for last-minute crewing up, but none of my friends or family has any connection to the industry,” he says. “The great thing about Creative Access is that it is building its own network of really talented people.”

Desai has now worked as a casting and location AP for indies including Lambent, Electric Ray and Minnow Films, where he’s currently working on the second series of Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins, as well as new format Spies (w/t).

With his mind set on a career as a programme director, there seems little chance of this former trader returning to the floor, although he hopes to cast his ex-boss – an astrophysicist with sparse people skills – in the right TV show one day: “He’s probably a millionaire several times over by now, but he’d make a great character.”