Morna Cook, Universal Music HR director

 9 November 2015

Senior director of HR for Universal Music, Morna played a key role in their groundbreaking paid internship scheme. For her outstanding commitment to passing on and developing creative skills, she was awarded the Music Skills Award 2015.

Morna has helped many young people get a first foot on their career ladder. (Image: James Fletcher)
Morna has helped many young people get a first foot on their career ladder. (Image: James Fletcher)

Nominations are now open for the Creative & Cultural Skills Awards 2016.

When Universal Music launched its paid internship scheme in 2009, it was a first of its kind in the creative sector.

Earning recognition in the House of Commons, the scheme was singled out as a fantastic leader in the field of paid internships.

The work that Morna and the scheme do has helped young people, from all different backgrounds, to get a first foot on the career ladder.

The scheme's in-house training and development programme has ensured that a large proportion of interns have gone on to successful careers within Universal Music and also the wider industry.

Jo Dipple from UK Music, who nominated Morna for her award, said: “Only Morna’s perseverance and willingness to take on a new idea has made this scheme possible and created so many opportunities for young people.”

Developing young people’s skills

Throughout the year, Universal Music recruits between 25 and 30 interns, both graduates and non-graduates. The internships last for a year, enabling individuals to get the training, development and encouragement they need to succeed. 

Morna has made sure that interns get to work in a variety of departments, across all areas of the company, including A&R, marketing and digital, consumer insight, commercial and finance. She has also made sure that every intern is paid the London Living Wage.

This means that anyone can apply for the scheme, not just those who live in London or can afford to work in London for free.

Growing the scheme

Six years later and the scheme has come a long way, even earning itself recognition in the House of Commons where it was singled out as a fantastic leader in the field of paid internships.

Morna has made sure that interns get to work across all areas of the company.

The scheme has now opened its doors to apprentices, with Universal Music hiring its first apprentice within the business.

It has also hosted its first work experience programme, welcoming 30 trainees from Universal Music’s partner East London Arts & Music.

Jo said: "The scheme is currently committed to providing 30 work placements each year across every part of our business to allow the trainees to gain invaluable work experience. This is a key point of difference in what East London Arts & Media can offer their students as part of their curriculum."

Winning the music skills award

The judging panel awarded Morna the Music Skills Award 2015 because they could see how instrumental she had been in establishing the scheme at the label and how her work had helped so many young people.

Morna said of winning the award: “It’s a privilege, but what’s most important is what the awards stand for – recognising the importance of supporting the next generation of young people into the creative industries.”

Nominations are now open for the Creative & Cultural Skills Awards 2016.


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