He gets you to set your own deadlines

I Work For... Jenny Watt is PA to Paul Robinson, MD and senior vice-president of UK Branded Television for The Walt Disney Company
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The Independent Online

I have a Disney watch, and Mickey Mouse bookends from the States, but that's all. I'm restrained when it comes to all the memorabilia. If you wanted to, you could fill your house with toys and pictures, and wear Disney-branded clothes, but that's not me.

I have a Disney watch, and Mickey Mouse bookends from the States, but that's all. I'm restrained when it comes to all the memorabilia. If you wanted to, you could fill your house with toys and pictures, and wear Disney-branded clothes, but that's not me.

That's not to say I'm not proud to work for the company - I love it. I started temping for the television division eight years ago and when the cable and satellite channel was set up I moved over. We had to set the offices up from scratch, recruit the team, order stationery, negotiate licences, the works.

It was a fun time and we were breaking new ground because we were the first of the Disney channels to be set up outside the States. I worked for the previous managing director, an American who was sent over for three years to get the company up and running.

Paul followed as managing director two years ago. He's a radio man, with 20 years in the industry. He started behind the turntables, and was a heavy metal DJ in the Eighties (he says he got the job only because he had a degree in metallurgy). He loved being a DJ, but as time went on he grew more interested in the business side. He spent a long time at the BBC, and ended up as head of programming for Radio 1. Then he took the job of managing director at Talk Radio and that's where The Disney Channel headhunted him from.

He's made a big difference to the channel in two years, and took us through a huge expansion of our output. We launched three new channels on 29 September. It's almost unheard of to launch three at once. All three went live at 5am, as scheduled. Paul and the directors were at Pearson Television, where we transmit from, to watch the channels hit the screens. We had a champagne breakfast at the offices to celebrate and there's been an enormous buzz. We were very excited on launch day, and none more so than Paul. It's a big achievement, and he says the Sky negotiations were the most complex he's done. The contracts were intricate and all the time he had to keep in mind our licences with the Independent Television Commission, and deal with the Office of Fair Trading to make sure our deals are fully compliant.

Since launch day the screens on the office televisions have been split in four and you can see each of our channels at the same time. In one quarter is The Disney Channel, and in the other three quarters are the new ones, Playhouse Disney, Toon Disney and Disney Plus 1.

Playhouse Disney is our new pre-school channel, Toon Disney is animation and cartoons, and Disney Plus 1 is the entire schedule shifted one hour later. So you can choose whether to watch, say 101 Dalmatians, at 7pm on the core channel, or at 8pm on Disney Plus 1. The launch is a very important move for us, because it means we can offer more choice to viewers, and bring in new viewers. It also keeps us at the forefront of the technology, driving digital satellite. Disney was in at the beginning. Toy Story was the first feature-length computer graphic animation film - and we want to stay in front.

It has been a year and a half of extremely hard work but one of the things I love about it is that we really do work as a team, and everyone helps each other. I feel involved in the company and Paul often asks my opinion, probably because I've been here longer than most and I know the lie of the land.

We have a good working relationship and I know he trusts me. He's meticulous and that means he's exacting, but you can't have one without the other. He has a great way of getting you to fix your own deadline for giving work to him. He says: "And when can I expect it?" That's one of his phrases. He also has an amazing memory - once you've told him when you'll do it, he logs it and won't forget. He's very accessible to all the staff. If their line manager isn't around, he'll see someone who has a problem and I think people appreciate it that he can find time, though he's so busy. His days are very long - he commutes in from Bedfordshire, he's in at 8am every day, doesn't often leave before 7pm, and rarely has lunch.

He amazes me, because even when he leaves late in the evening, he'll still come in next morning and say he went out for a walk or a bike ride when he got home, or spent some time working on his garden. He is a serious gardener, and his latest project is to build a water garden. Beats me how he finds the time, but he always seems to cram an awful lot into his day.

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