TITLE: Executive Vice President of Original Programming, TNT
WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Sarah Aubrey joined WarnerMedia’s TNT in 2015. Responsible for overseeing all development and production of original series and miniseries, she has helped TNT announce its presence in the market with a rapidly expanding programming slate of diverse shows, including Claws, Animal Kingdom, The Alienist, newly launched I Am the Night and the upcoming Snowpiercer and Raised by Wolves. She has also made it a priority to champion diversity at every level of the industry. Prior to joining TNT, Aubrey was a prolific television and film producer of such projects as the film and television series Friday Night Lights and HBO’s The Leftovers.
LIKES MOST ABOUT HER JOB: “I love my TNT team: They are smart, boisterous and lippy — just like my children. HA! We have dream jobs working with such vibrant creative people on our shows and laughing most of the day.”
LIKES LEAST ABOUT HER JOB: “First and foremost, I am very proud to be a working mom. But my life is a circus most of the time and as every working woman knows ‘balance’ is an illusion. So I am tired and drink too much coffee and occasionally think, woe is me. However I love my work and I love my kids, so I am fully committed to the insanity.”
BIGGEST MENTORS: “My mother Christine Aubrey is my No. 1 mentor/ cheerleader. She went back to work when I started college after being a stay-at-home mom for my childhood. She had built a remarkable career as a fundraiser in Texas and at 74 she is still working hard, traveling the world for her job and loving every minute of it. She is a model of grace and tenacity and swears like a sailor — my hero.”
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: “Don’t waste time looking for a specific kind of mentor. Take the one that comes to you. That ‘fantasy’ person may never materialize, leaving you to miss out on potentially great people who are actually present and willing to help.”
TITLE: Senior Vice President, Programming, Fox News
WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Meade Cooper oversees Monday through Sunday primetime and opinion programming across Fox News Channel and has been instrumental in the dominance of the network’s primetime slate. FNC topped the cable-network primetime ratings chart among total viewers in 2018, its third straight yearly win, averaging a network record 2.4 million total viewers in primetime. Leading the way was Hannity, averaging a cable news series-high 3.2 million viewers. Having joined the network during its inception in 1996, she previously served as VP of primetime live/programming before being promoted to her current post. Earlier she had been executive producer of On the Record with Greta Van Susteren and a senior producer of Hannity & Colmes. A Georgetown University graduate, she is also an active mentor at Fox News.
LIKES MOST ABOUT HER JOB: “I get to learn something new every day. Whether it is about policy, politics, people or technology, I am constantly learning new things.”
LIKES LEAST ABOUT HER JOB: “I usually thrive on the pace and intensity, but every once in a while it would be nice to have a quiet day.”
BIGGEST MENTORS: “Our CEO, Suzanne Scott. She leads by example and has also been very supportive of me and growing my career with new opportunities and challenges.”
BEST ADVICE SHE’S EVER RECEIVED: “Start each day by tackling the things that I am dreading the most. By crossing them off my to-do list early, I do not spend the rest of the day wasting time and energy worrying about them.”
TITLE: President of Entertainment, MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo
WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Nina Diaz has made her mark as a producer, showrunner, creator and top executive. Her track record dates back to her first introduction to Viacom-owned MTV, where she developed and launched the pop-culture hits MTV Cribs and My Super Sweet 16. She’s also credited for conceiving the idea behind The Osbournes, which at the time was MTV’s most-viewed series ever. She began her career at MTV as VP of the News & Documentaries division. Always a pioneer for diverse stories, she is credited with pushing boundaries from colorism and LGBTQ awareness in Love & Hip Hop to transgender visibility in Young and Pregnant. Before joining VH1, Diaz worked as an independent producer and is credited with creating the hugely successful VH1’s Mob Wives franchise and was the showrunner who launched The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
LIKES MOST ABOUT HER JOB: “The diverse array of multitalented people I get to collaborate with and be inspired by every day, whether it’s the many creatives behind the scenes or those whose stories we are entrusted with telling across our content.”
LIKES LEAST ABOUT HER JOB: “I have the good fortune to love what I do and pretty much everything about it. What a huge privilege to be able to spend every day bringing ideas to life that connect, entertain and move viewers. Unscripted television is a fast-paced business, so I do often wish we had more time to get every project to its greatest version — like a fine wine, some creative gets better with age — but we have air dates to hit.”
BIGGEST MENTORS: “My parents, who continually challenged me to push out of my comfort zone, experience as much as possible and share their passion for people and culture from all walks of life and all over the world. This instilled in me, early on, the power of human connection and storytelling which paved the way for my career in the television arts.”
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: “Keep focused on giving your absolute best to every assignment no matter how big or small — because if you work hard, the rest will follow.”
TITLE: Executive Vice President, Programming, Debmar-Mercury
WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Alexandra Jewett is an award-winning creative executive and former executive producer who joined Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury in September 2010 as senior VP, programming. She has played a pivotal role in expanding and growing the media company’s talk and game show portfolios, notably including The Wendy Williams Show, in its 10th season and still going strong. She’s also overseeing production on Caught in Providence, co-produced with Citylife Productions and recently renewed for a second season in national syndication. She joined from CBS Television Distribution, where she served as VP of programming and development, East Coast. There, she supported the launch of The Rachael Ray Show and the final seasons of The Montel Williams Show. She began her TV career as a producer for The Phil Donahue Show in 1989.
LIKES MOST ABOUT HER JOB: “As a producer, I had the opportunity to intimately get to know — and question — people far outside of my own narrow sphere; in creating and launching shows in international territories I was able to travel much of the world and in order for those shows to be successful I had to quickly understand and assimilate into different cultures. As a development and programming executive, I get to spend more time looking at the broader and bigger picture of our television business but still remain very connected to the creative side.”
LIKES LEAST ABOUT HER JOB: “My least favorite part came when I realized that I have no real talents, hobbies or skills that will come in useful when there is no more job! I don’t know how to garden, play cards, knit or change a tire. But I am smart enough to know it’s my own fault.”
BEST ADVICE SHE’S EVER RECEIVED: “When Bob Turner tasked me with creating shows in international territories, his marching orders were pretty simple: launch programs that would be successful in those markets because they were launched with our experience and expertise, but make certain they would continue to thrive and grow when we moved on to a new show and a different market. Bob was an extraordinary leader and his mentorship meant I could skip graduate school.”
BIGGEST MENTORS: "Mark Monsky: Former NYC news director & creator of Paramount’s syndicated magazine Hard Copy. I started my career working for him and he was brilliant, disruptive and intimidating. Ultimately, he gave me permission to push hard and be tough when it was necessary and that fear has too many limits.
"Phil Donahue: I was a producer for the Donahue show in the early ‘90s and he taught me how important it was to produce television 'minute by minute,' and especially to understand and respect the audience. It is an honor I feel every day to have been able to learn my craft from a master like Phil, who encouraged me to excel every single day and challenged me to deliver my best work for such an extraordinary talent.
"Bob Turner: The former President-CEO of Multimedia Entertainment, Orbis Entertainment and Pearson North America. For some reason, Bob believed I could do anything and at each of the companies he ran he gave me jobs I wasn’t yet qualified for and just had the faith I would do them well. I owe a lot of my courage in the workplace to him.
"And, of course, my two current bosses, Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein. They have been ‘family' for almost 10 years now and I feel really lucky to be working at such an innovative company. They are two very different people but both have taught me to challenge traditional thinking and operating. Their leadership sets a high bar but they give all of us the room to make the best decisions as opposed to following a restrictive path. I think one of the most valuable lessons they have taught me is that it’s better to be brave than to be perfect."
TITLE: Executive Vice President, Content Strategy and Distribution, Crown Media Family Networks
WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Erin McIlvain oversees content strategy and distribution for Crown Media Family Networks and its three linear networks, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Hallmark Drama; subscription video-on-demand streaming service Hallmark Movies Now; and e-book publishing division Hallmark Publishing. Based in Denver, she reports to CEO Bill Abbott and is responsible for aligning business development efforts with the distribution of Crown Media’s original content across multiple platforms. She also cultivates strategic partnerships that will generate untapped distribution opportunities. Previously, she was VP of broadcast relations at Charter Communications. She joined Charter from Crown Media, where she was VP of national accounts. She began her career at Dish Network, negotiating retransmission consent and linear cable network distribution deals.
LIKES MOST ABOUT HER JOB: “The people I work with and the company I work for.”
LIKES LEAST ABOUT HER JOB: “Perceptions can be difficult to change.”
BIGGEST MENTORS: “I was very lucky early in my career to work with some really good, tough negotiators. Their style was not necessarily mine, but I learned a tremendous amount about how to approach every aspect of a negotiation.”
BEST ADVICE SHE’S EVER RECEIVED: “From my Dad: In the face of fear, walk right through it. On the other side is freedom.”
TITLE: President, true[X]
WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Pooja Midha leads daily operations and long-term strategy at true[X], the advertising technology company acquired by 21st Century Fox in 2014. The company builds ad experiences based on consumer engagement, including by giving digital-video viewers a choice between accepting a longer message from one advertiser and having no more interruptions for the remainder of the program or watching a more typical load of commercials. Previously, she was senior VP of digital ad sales and operations for the ABC Television Network. Before that, she spent a decade at Viacom Media Networks, including as senior VP of digital ad sales for the Music and Entertainment Group.
LIKES MOST ABOUT HER JOB: “The breadth of my day to day. I love that in a day I can go from working with sales, marketing and business development and talking directly with our clients and partners, to working with our product, technology and research teams, to sharing our vision with the industry. The variety makes every day different and stretches me in all kinds of challenging directions.”
LIKES LEAST ABOUT HER JOB: “What do you like least about a job you love? Determining resource allocations is always a little painful. There are so many puzzles for us to solve (I love puzzles). You have a million ideas, a million things you want to build. You start to think of all of these ideas as children — it’s hard to choose between them! But you can’t do everything all at once.”
BIGGEST MENTORS: “I have learned a tremendous amount from [true [x] co-founders] Joe Marchese and David Levy. They have a bold and inspiring vision for the future of our industry and it’s energizing to see what they have done to execute on it already. I also previously worked under Geri Wang, who taught me a lot about the importance of healthy debate within an organization. Geri welcomed different perspectives and encouraged her team to speak their minds. I strive to do the same.”
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: “At the end of the day, the only things we really have that matter are our time and attention. They are finite, scarce and the most valuable things you have to spend or give, so be thoughtful about how you spend them and with whom you choose to spend them.”
TITLE: President and CEO, NCC Media
WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Nicolle Pangis became president and CEO of NCC Media in May 2018. Formed three decades ago by Comcast, Cox and Spectrum to sell cable TV ad inventory at the local level, NCC Media now also represents every other major U.S. telco and satellite player — a massive TV data set and a large addressable media business. She joined NCC with a background as a pioneer in data-driven media, most recently as global chief operating officer at GroupM’s [m]PLATFORM and, before that, at Xaxis, the programmatic media provider. Earlier, she was president of 24/7 Real Media.
LIKES MOST ABOUT HER JOB: “Two things. First, the people. I’ve been lucky throughout my whole career to work with amazing colleagues and executives who I learn from and laugh with daily. If you love the people you work with, it often doesn’t feel like work. Second, I believe NCC is in a unique position to change the media landscape by converging the data-driven television and digital worlds in a way no other entity is or will be able to. It’s for that reason I accepted the role, and every week that belief becomes stronger.”
LIKES LEAST ABOUT HER JOB: “The TV industry moves more slowly than the digital world in which I grew up and candidly, that’s an ongoing frustration for me. That said, there is so much positive change in the works for 2019-2020 that I think this frustration is just for the near term. Patience is a virtue and I’m using it as a life lesson.”
BIGGEST MENTORS: "Jon Hsu, previously the CEO/COO of 24/7 Media and most recently the CFO of AppNexus. Jon plucked me out of an Account Executive role at 28 years old after we chatted at a few company softball games to have me report directly to him when he became Global COO of 24/7 Media. He placed me as the point executive to our joint venture with Dentsu when I had zero international experience, had me in the center of our integration when we were bought by WPP, and asked me to run Global Product Management when I had never written a requirements document. More than anyone in my career, I have Jon to thank for where I am today. He pushed me out of my comfort zone every day but was always there when I needed him. I worked so hard for him because I knew he took a chance on me and I didn’t want to fail him. I learned so much about strategy, leadership, communication, organizational structure -- everything you need to be a strong executive. I’m lucky to call him a dear friend 11 years later. He’s the best.
"Dave Moore, Chairman of Xaxis, previously CEO of 24/7 Media who has been a great boss and mentor. Shortly after I had my first daughter, Zoe, Dave elevated me to president of Europe at 24/7 and then to president of Europe and North America just ten months later. He didn’t think twice about promoting a woman with an infant. It meant a lot to me, but also to every woman at 24/7 at the time. I’m not sure he realized the impact of those two decisions, especially within a span of a year.
"Ari Bluman, who was previously chief digital investment officer at GroupM. Ari was one of my first bosses at 24/7 Media, and if I’m honest, more a sibling to argue with at work than a mentor. As my manager at the very beginning of my career, Ari not only believed in me, but was very vocal with senior leadership in calling out my abilities. I am a big believer that you don’t and shouldn’t forget the people who believed in you before you believed in yourself. We all have them. Call them mentors, call them your professional cheerleaders, everyone has them and you know exactly who they are. Ari passed away after a heroic battle with leukemia several years ago but I think of him constantly and hear his voice in my head all the time – sometimes ‘yelling’ at me and sometimes giving me a pep talk. Those who knew Ari know exactly what I mean."
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: “Jon Hsu advised me to never hit ‘send’ on an email in anger. It’s the kind of simple advice that can make a big difference. Nine times out of 10, taking a step back to cool off and regroup allows you to find a more productive way to handle any issues.”
TITLE: Senior Vice President of NCAA Digital, General Manager of B/R Live, Turner Sports
WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Hania Poole, as senior VP of NCAA Digital, and her leadership team are responsible for content, operations and product development for the business including NCAA.com, the NCAA Sports App, live digital coverage for all NCAA Championships and the management of NCAA March Madness Live. She also is general manager of the B/R Live direct-to-consumer product, responsible for product development, business strategy and operations, content acquisition and marketing efforts for Turner’s new OTT sports platform.
LIKES MOST ABOUT HER JOB: “There is so much to like … are you kidding me? Being able to deliver the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, UEFA Champions League, The Match and other amazing sports content to millions of people each year is a gift. But, more than that, I love being able to bring talented teams together and challenge them to create great products and content each year. And with this responsibility, I get to be fairly autonomous in how I do that. And those things together are what I love about my job.”
LIKES LEAST ABOUT HER JOB: “It can be tough to compete in the digital space being within a more traditional media company. The goals we are held to are different than those in Silicon Valley and it’s sometimes tough to reconcile those things.”
BIGGEST MENTORS: “I am blessed to have had so many awesome mentors in my career. Prior to Turner, there was a woman named Paula Sims, who was molded in the GE management style. Within Turner, there are several. Matt Hong (COO of Turner Sports), Jennifer Dorian (EVP/GM, Turner Classic Movies) and Laura Dames (EVP, Turner Studios).”
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: “When contemplating a career move, salary and compensation should be small factors in your decision. What’s most important is who you work for/with and being challenged. If both of those things happen, then the job is right for you. I have followed that advice time and time again and it has not failed me.”
TITLE: Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment Leader, Deloitte
WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Erin Scanlon is an Audit & Assurance partner in Deloitte’s New York office and leads the firm’s U.S. Telecom, Media & Entertainment (TM&E) Audit & Assurance practice. She excels in understanding her clients’ businesses and focuses on early identification and management of issues. She has led engagements for many of the firm’s largest and most complex clients and serves as a resource to other Deloitte practitioners. She is also the board president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City.
LIKES MOST ABOUT HER JOB: “I love working in the TM&E industry because of the creativity within each company. This industry is fast-paced and dynamic with new challenges presenting themselves each day. I enjoy the satisfaction that comes from using my technical expertise to help my clients solve complex problems in this ever-changing business. I also love building and leading diverse teams with a shared commitment to excellence.”
LIKES LEAST ABOUT HER JOB: “My busy schedule sometimes leaves me with less time than I would like to focus on the next generation of leaders. Time pressures challenge me to find creative ways to pay it forward and ensure that I can mentor and develop the leaders of tomorrow.”
BIGGEST MENTORS: “I’ve always valued a strong circle of mentors. As the youngest of five children, I realize that each of my siblings taught me something valuable. To round it out, my parents instilled an extremely strong work ethic in all of us – something I value both personally and professionally. One standout professional mentor is a partner, who early in my career, demonstrated that a rewarding work life and a fulfilling personal life can coexist. You may not have perfect balance every day, but it’s important to keep things in perspective and find time to give back to your community.”
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: “Be passionate about your work, embrace change and don’t be afraid to be your authentic self.”
TITLE: President, Multicultural Practice, Cultural Quotient, Publicis Media
WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Lisa Torres, as president of Publicis Media’s Multicultural Practice, Cultural Quotient, has created a new, more modern and data-centric way to approach the multicultural marketplace. By linking culture to science, she leads what collectively is now the No. 1 spender in culturally targeted campaigns in the U.S. with $1.7 billion in billings. She had previously been president of ZenithOptimedia Multicultural (2011-2016). With more than 25 years of experience, Torres has held positions across agencies including MPG (Havas Media), Carat (Aegis), and others. Last year, she was named to the Steering Committee for the Advertising Research Foundation’s Cultural Effectiveness Council.
LIKES MOST ABOUT HER JOB: “I don’t just like my job, I LOVE it. I think that distinction is important. You can do good work anywhere, but when you love your job, you can do great work. At Publicis Media I am blessed to work with clients whose brands I love, in a company that inspires me to do better and be better everyday, and with an amazing team that supports me unconditionally. I’m very lucky.”
BIGGEST MENTORS: I have been blessed with a variety of mentors. The US Multicultural marketplace taught me how to hustle, how to be creative, how to squeeze a budget, how to sell, and how to manage multiple personalities from top to bottom to get the job done. Working in this marketplace provides you with a multi-faceted skillset that you just cannot get anywhere else.
"Charlie Rutman, who was president during my time at Carat/MPG, was a big influence on my career. He taught me to never underestimate the value I bring to the table, and to speak up because what I do is important to build a client’s business. He was inclusive before inclusivity was a “hot topic” and taught me that it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what degree you hold, it’s your skills and smarts that matter. Charlie is the quintessential New Yorker – tough as nails with a heart of gold.
"And of course, my current boss -- Tim Jones, CEO Publicis Media Americas. He taught me how to elevate my game. He put me in meetings and in front of clients because he believes so strongly in my ability to deliver. You really can’t put a price on that kind of support and confidence – and that means everything.
LIKES LEAST ABOUT HER JOB: “If you walk into the media business expecting traditional work/life balance, this is probably not the industry for you. It’s a grind of a business, which is why you need to love it, otherwise you risk losing your passion for the work. You have to be open to unconventional ways of creating balance, which includes setting clear expectations but also being flexible and realistic because at the end of the day, the client comes first.”
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: “All you can bring is your best work; the outcome will be what it is. I sleep well at night because I know I did my best work, even if the outcome doesn’t go exactly as planned.”
TITLE: Senior Director, T-Mobile Home + Entertainment
WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Lauren Wallace is a key member of the senior leadership team of T-Mobile’s Home + Entertainment division, where she heads its growing business and legal affairs team. After playing an instrumental role in selling Layer3 TV to T-Mobile for $350 million, Wallace joined T-Mobile to further disrupt the pay television ecosystem. She brings more than a decade of experience and a record of accomplishment that exceeds many professionals with double her years in the industry. She had been the chief legal officer at Layer3 TV. Prior to Layer3 TV, Wallace was a key contributor to content distribution and media sales strategies at Dish Network and Sling TV.
LIKES MOST ABOUT HER JOB: “Designing and executing impossible strategies — and encouraging and empowering emerging leaders. Whether building a disruptive business, empowering my team or closing a deal, each aspect of my role presents new and unique challenges that demand I continue to learn, adapt, remain resilient and question how to improve.”
LIKES LEAST ABOUT HER JOB: “Unnecessary politics and unreasonable people.”
BIGGEST MENTORS: “The most influential mentors in my career have primarily been my colleagues. Mentor relationships are too often forced. I’ve found that the best lessons are often those not being taught, but lessons learned through listening to, observing behaviors (effective and ineffective) of and asking for help from colleagues … at all levels. There are lessons to be learned from everyone with whom we interact. As the stages of my career evolved, those who have had the greatest influence changed.”
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: “There are so many. Being comfortable saying ‘I need help,’ and knowing that it’s OK that I’m not good at [insert weakness] was a breakthrough.”
TITLE: President of Entertainment, Showtime Networks
WHY WE’RE WATCHING: Jana Winograde recently earned a promotion to president of entertainment of Showtime Networks. She and president of entertainment Gary Levine share responsibility for developing and supervising all aspects of Showtime Networks programming across all genres; oversee the company’s production, program operations, business affairs, casting, scheduling, research and home entertainment; and serve as liaisons to CBS Corp.’s international and domestic distribution groups, among other tasks. She joined Showtime in 2017 as president, business operations, West Coast. She previously spent 23 years at ABC Entertainment, most recently as executive VP and head of business operations.
LIKES MOST ABOUT HER JOB: “I’ve just taken on a role that has given me the opportunity to flex new muscles and be meaningfully involved with our programming in a different way. It has been fun to take on this new challenge, particularly with a partner like Gary Levine by my side.”
LIKES LEAST ABOUT HER JOB: “As we all know, the pace of change in our business is constantly accelerating. While there are aspects of that change that I really enjoy and find challenging (in a good way), it can be a double-edged sword — just when you think you’ve figured out the best way to approach something, the changing dynamics require re-evaluation!”
BIGGEST MENTORS: “The person who had the biggest impact on my career — as a boss and a mentor — is Mark Pedowitz. He hired me as a director of business affairs at ABC and I worked for him for over a decade. During that time, he purposely trained me to be his successor, teaching me not just the substantive aspects of the television business and my role in it, but how to be a manager and a leader of people. Also at the beginning of my career at ABC, I was part of a year-long Executive Mentorship program and Bob Iger was my mentor. He took me to his meetings and gave me incredible access and advice. I learned a lot about the business during that year and am thankful for the opportunity to have been mentored by Bob.”
BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED: “I’m not sure it counts as advice, but I have a framed piece of art at home that says, ‘Let’s make better mistakes tomorrow.’ Words to live by!”
This article was updated after publication on Jan. 28, 2019.
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