How to transform the arts

Anita Bhalla

Anita has enjoyed a successful career in the media industry spanning over 25 years and has held many roles within the BBC. She shares her advice on becoming an influential figure and transforming Birmingham and beyond.

Anita was attracted by the modules on our postgraduate media degree, and the flexibility offered by the course, as she was already working as a news correspondent and needed to fit her studies around work and home commitments.

The course helped Anita to change direction in her career, leaving behind her role as an on-screen correspondent to take up roles which were strategy-based and influencing the media, becoming the BBC’s Head of Political and Community Affairs for England.

What's the secret to success in media?

When I started, you went into journalism because you trained as a journalist. I never trained as a journalist, I trained as a teacher and I went to the BBC with a whole bag of other skills. It was those skills that took me to many different places. So don’t think about your career in a narrow way as one area that you want to work in, but think more broadly.

How can someone get the most from their time at BCU?

I'd describe BCU as an open university - If you go knocking on doors with an idea, somebody will listen to you.

How can someone get ahead in the media industry?

Keep your mind open in everything that you do, whether you’re sitting in a concert or drinking coffee with friends - you’re learning all the time. If career opportunities don’t obviously hit you, then go and create your opportunities. That’s what I did, I created my opportunities.

When I was offered the chance to present a radio programme for only a couple of hours per week, I never would have thought that my hobby would lead me to working for 26 years at the BBC. So be aware of all the opportunities that exist, but also be aware of the opportunities that don’t exist.

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Broadcaster, BBC

MA Media and Communication

Anita led the transformation of a Birmingham arts centre, leaving a long-term legacy to the industry.

She's also Chair of the Creative City Partnership and Performances Birmingham, and has held many roles within the BBC during her career, most recently as the Editor of Public Space Broadcasting.

Anita set up BBC Asian Network in the West Midlands, now a national digital service, and led the BBC's development of Big Screens in cities around the country.

Along with her varied career in the media world, Anita has a strong commitment to public services and welfare groups. While working as a Community Worker in Handsworth, Birmingham, she set up and ran one of the first hostels for Asian women.

In 2009, Anita was awarded an OBE for her services to Broadcasting and Communities and the following year, she was appointed High Sheriff for the West Midlands. She was also given an Honorary Doctorate by Birmingham City University in 2016.