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Young Leaders Ride TV's Waves of Change

‘MCN’ spotlights emerging industry leaders who are keeping their companies on the cutting edge 5/08/2017 8:00 AM Eastern
MCN's 2017 Next Wave of Leaders honorees

When we cast the net for up-and-coming executives across media disciplines who have been making a distinctive impact, we had no way of expecting the variety and quality of the 40-and-under aged executives we’d find. You’ll read here about impactful engineers, marketers with an eye to digital and data, successful consultants, negotiators and dealmakers who share a track record of success but who aren’t necessarily the bestknown — hence the Next Wave of Leaders. This class will also be saluted at a breakfast event in New York on Friday, June 16, closing out the inaugural VIDWeek (VID-week.com).

SEAN ALFORD
ASSOCIATE, PROSKAUER

SEAN ALFORD is an associate in the corporate department and a member of the Technology, Media & Telecommunications and Sports Law Groups at New York-based Proskauer. He started his career as an associate at the firm before spending a year on the business and legal affairs team at NBC Sports Group, rejoining Proskauer in 2014. He has had a hand in content distribution agreements shaping the way millions of consumers tap into and view content today. He has advised on deals for everything from traditional TV-affiliation agreements to the Internet (including groundbreaking TV everywhere distribution deals and over-the-top transactions). He has represented Hulu in several content distribution agreements connected to its upcoming new linear overthe- top programming service, and represented Dish Network in its highly-publicized content distribution deal with Viacom that included carriage of Viacom networks on Sling TV, Dish’s OTT service.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“Fundamental shifts in the concept of ‘must-have’ programming. We are already seeing big changes in what constitutes ‘must-have’ and where and how that programming can be accessed. I expect that those changes will only accelerate in the near term, which should lead to increased M&A activity and some significant shifts in leverage when it comes to content licensing deals and advertising sales.”

Proudest accomplishment of 2016?
“Helping clients navigate through the current content renaissance. In 2016, I had the opportunity to work with a variety of clients on cutting-edge transactions that reflect the dynamic state of the media industry. From a virtual reality deal in sports and an investment in a digital-only sports network to the launch of a major virtual MVPD service and the rollup of several digital publications, I am proud to have worked with some incredible people on some exciting new beginnings.”

DAN AVERSANO
SENIOR VP OF AD INNOVATION AND PROGRAMMATIC SOLUTIONS, TURNER AD SALES

DAN AVERSANO and his team lead the development of next-generation ad capabilities, notably around audience targeting and advanced TV solutions, as a part of the company’s year-old Turner Ignite division. Based in New York, Aversano reports to Michael Strober, executive VP of client strategy and ad innovation for Turner Ad Sales, as well as co-head of Turner Ignite. Aversano and his team have been hard at work bettering Turner’s capabilities with spaces like audience targeting. Capabilities like AudienceNOW and TargetingNOW are now delivering results for clients, including stronger key performance indicator (KPI) delivery for their brands. Aversano and his team are focused on driving interactive, addressable and OTT advertising solutions, as well. In about five years with Turner, Aversano has also served as senior VP of client and consumer insights as well as VP of research and strategy for Turner Entertainment Ad Sales, supporting TBS and TNT ad-sales strategy. Prior to joining Turner, Aversano held various roles at Nielsen across its Watch and Buy businesses, most recently serving as VP of media and advertising analytics.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“Simply because there will be new platforms and new ways for consumers to experience content in the near future that we may not even know about (not to mention the industry’s struggle with it today), I am going to say measurement. We are awash with data and analytics, but how we put together the right data sources, standardize that across all stakeholders, and have everyone agree to the process is a massive wave that’s coming — we’ll all either come together and get pushed by this wave into the future, or it will potentially leave some of us lost at sea.”

MARCELLO BELLISARIO
SENIOR VP, TALENT AND CASTING, LIONSGATE

MARCELLO BELLISARIO is the first head of casting and talent relations ever for Lionsgate Television, a department and VP position he created upon joining the company in 2014 after four and a half years at ABC and ABC Studios, overseeing the casting of Scandal (Kerry Washington, Joe Morton), How to Get Away With Murder (Viola Davis), Grey’s Anatomy and Revenge (Madeleine Stowe). His responsibilities have grown to include casting for all Lionsgate scripted series and all Starz original programming, too, after Lionsgate’s December 2016 acquisition of the premium programmer. He has worked closely with and supervised casting series and pilots for Jason Reitman and Helen Estabrook (Casual/Hulu), Oprah Winfrey (Greenleaf/OWN), Jenji Kohan (Orange Is the New Black/Netflix), Clyde Phillips (Nurse Jackie/Showtime and Feed the Beast/AMC) and more. He is currently overseeing the casting of upcoming series including Dear White People (Netflix), White Famous (Showtime), Dimension 404 (Hulu), Nightcap (Pop), and Manhunt: The UNABOMer (Discovery/Trigger Street).

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“From a casting standpoint, the growing number of platforms for which series are being developed and produced has created great opportunities to showcase fresh talent who otherwise wouldn’t be seen and heard. Their embrace of diversity has ushered in a new wave of groundbreaking multicultural series for our global audiences, including Orange Is the New Black and Dear White People on Netflix, Greenleaf on OWN and the upcoming White Famous on Showtime. As an executive who is now working with two global brands, Lionsgate and Starz, I will continue to stay competitive and push the boundaries of what is possible with regards to casting and talent.”

SUNG HO CHOI
COFOUNDER AND VP OF PRODUCT, FUBOTV

SUNG HO CHOI is vice president of product and cofounder of fuboTV, the sportsfirst virtual MVPD, bringing subscribers access to linear and on-demand, over-thetop content from 50-plus channels and on desktop, Android smartphones and tablets, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Roku devices. As cofounder and the company’s first CTO, Sung built the tech foundation on which fuboTV initially launched in January 2015 as a streaming soccer service. fuboTV’s new service, launched in February, goes beyond soccer to include channels that carry all major live sports, as well as entertainment content. The work now includes migrating legacy video systems to a new platform with improved reliability, latency and video quality; integration with network partners’ TV everywhere platforms; and adding linear and VOD content from new programming partners.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“The next big wave is transition of premium live content to over-the-top, with two main trends currently unfolding in the industry. First, we will continue to see more virtual MVPDs enter the market from nontraditional distributors like YouTube, Hulu and others — both domestically and abroad. Second, we will see smaller operators transitioning to an OTT model to focus on their high-margin broadband business. Most of them will look to leverage the right technology partner to help them with the transition. We are betting on these two trends. We are investing heavily in our technology infrastructure to create the best-in-class, sports-first vMVPD, providing the best possible live OTT viewing experience. At the same time, we continue to develop our software into a platform that domestic and international distributors can utilize.”

ASAF DAVIDOV
SENIOR MANAGER, AD SALES RESEARCH, HULU

Reporting directly to the VP and head of Ad Sales Research at Hulu, Asaf Davidov oversees Hulu’s customs sales research, including consumer behavior, ad effectiveness and future ad models. His current focus is understating the marketplace value of new to market ad products and original programming sponsorships. Earlier, he spent five years at NBCUniversal, where he was a director leading the ad sales research team for news, sports and the Olympics. He began his career at GfK as a research analyst. He is the driving force behind Hulu’s industry insights platform, Hulu Insights, and works closely with prominent third parties such as Nielsen and Kantar’s Millward Brown to identify new solutions for marketers to reach valued audiences. He helped to build and implement Millward Brown’s OTT Ad Effectiveness solution, the first of its kind in the industry. He has also worked with Nielsen to develop XCR OTT, a measurement tool that allows for crossplatform measurement of extended reach versus TV.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“There’s no question that the television landscape will continue to evolve — TV isn’t just relegated to your home via a set-top-box. TV can be digital and streamed on just about any device with an internet connect. And finding a way to explicitly measure audiences tuning in across mobile, PC and via connected TVs has never been more critical. Measuring these audiences is the next wave need for the industry. With TV viewing via connected devices emerging as a mode of choice, it’s time the industry followed suit: disrupt the current model and adopt measurement and validation to the evolved TV viewing landscape, such as Digital Ad Ratings for OTT.”

DOMENIC DIMEGLIO
SENIOR VP OF DISTRIBUTION AND OPERATIONS, CBS DIGITAL MEDIA, CBS INTERACTIVE

As the head of distribution and operations for CBS Digital Media — the network’s digital businesses such as CBS.com, CBS All Access, CBSN, CBSSports.com and CBSNews.com — Domenic DiMeglio leads the brands’ digital-distribution strategies, including full episode streaming and electronic sell-through, and oversees the CBS Audience Network, CBS’s digital network of distribution partners. He was an instrumental part of the launch of CBS All Access, CBS’s direct-to-consumer premium subscription VOD and live-streaming service, in October 2014. He continues to oversee marketing for the service and drive business insights to help serve its growing audience of more than 1 million subscribers. DiMeglio also has been key to the expansion of CBS All Access’s live geographic footprint across the U.S., partnering with affiliates; it now reaches 90% of the U.S.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“The convergence of ‘television’ and ‘streaming’ in the eyes of the consumer. It’s all ‘TV,’ loaded with a ton of compelling content, and people will continue to become more and more agnostic to how they are getting television content delivered to them. As an industry, we’ll continue to be tasked with not only expanding crossplatform delivery, but also consistently improving the UI/UX to deliver the best possible viewing experience no matter the platform.”

JUSTIN FORER
PARTNER, IBB CONSULTING

As the youngest partner at IBB Consulting Group, Justin Forer has shown he can help promote and achieve evolutionary change in fast-growing and changing industries. IBB Consulting comprises more than 180 consultants focused solely on the cable, broadband, media, and mobile industries. Since he joined in 2005, Forer has worked with senior executives at major MSOs, cable networks and broadcasters on a wide range of strategy, operations and technology initiatives. They range from mergers-and-acquisitions-related planning and execution efforts to successfully rolling out campaigns driving broadband adoption among low-income Americans.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“Two key areas of significant interest to the industry are the M&A landscape and the journey to digital transformation. As the next wave of convergence drives more consolidation, the lines between media, broadband and wireless companies will continue to blur. This intersection of business models will introduce new challenges and complexities for managing operations, maintaining customer relationships and getting new products to market quickly. Media companies and service providers that are making strategic acquisitions must take a structured and metrics-driven approach to integration so they can control, align and optimize those new assets. On the evolution front, more competition and new entrants means that media companies and service providers must focus on making the transition from being ‘online’ to being ‘digital’ companies. Digital transformation can unlock significant cost reduction opportunities, promote better customer experiences, enable greater employee engagement and establish the capability to get new products and services to market faster. To be successful, digital transformation initiatives must be based on a clear vision and well-articulated strategy, have a tactical and actionable plan for execution and be driven by tangible and measurable metrics.”

MONICA HALPERIN
VP, STRATEGY AND BUSINESS OPERATIONS, CONTENT DISTRIBUTION, VIACOM

MONICA HALPERIN helps lead Viacom’s Content Distribution group’s overall distribution strategy, developing new products and securing deals with the largest U.S. pay-TV and digital affiliates. She has been strategy lead on several key subscription VOD deals over the past six years, driving hundreds of millions of revenue for Viacom, per the company. She’s an expert in Viacom’s longform content library, serving as a subject matter expert in terms of rights information and how content can be exploited. She’s led Content Distribution’s shortform video strategy creation for ad-supported third-party platforms. She also has managed the import and distribution strategy for several of Viacom’s international networks for U.S. distributors.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“The continuing fragmentation of business models, along with the proliferation of new types of content (e.g. shortform, user-generated, semi-professional, VR/360, augmented reality, 4K/HDR) and ways to purchase/view it (Pay TV vs. Virtual Pay TV vs. SVOD vs. AVOD).”

Proudest accomplishment of 2016?
“I had the opportunity to lead my team in developing an important presentation about our business to the new members of our board of directors. It was a complex story to tell, and I was thrilled by the reception of our work.”

Moment you knew were in the right place doing the thing you’re meant to be doing?
“I’ve always loved working in the entertainment industry, but that feeling really hit home when I visited the set of TV Land’s Younger last year. There, I got to see first-hand the enormous amount of effort, dedication and passion — and the sheer number of people and hours — that goes in to creating our amazing shows.”

MATT KRAMER
TELEVISION AGENT, CREATIVE ARTISTS AGENCY

MATT KRAMER is a rising star among agents working in the sports broadcasting space today, representing top “insiders” in the NBA (Adrian Wojnarowski), Major League Baseball (Buster Olney/Joel Sherman), college football (Pat Forde), college basketball (Gary Parrish) and golf (Jason Sobel). Kramer’s clients span 19 sports media outlets, including ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, Turner Sports, NBC Sports, MLB Network and NFL Network, and he represents more talent at Yahoo! Sports than any other agent in the industry. An early pioneer in representing print journalists transitioning to television and new media platforms, Kramer negotiated Wojnarowski’s groundbreaking deal for The Vertical, the standalone NBA basketball platform and app of Yahoo! Sports. He is also one of the first agents to negotiate sports media talent deals with Bleacher Report.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“In the same way athletes forayed into social media to forge a direct connection with their fans and audiences, sports and news journalists have also embraced a direct connection to their audiences via social platforms like Facebook Live, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. How the traditional sports and news networks compete with those platforms — or even develop exclusive relationships with these platforms — is something our industry will be spending a lot of time on. It used to be that getting a story on TV quickly was faster than putting it in the newspaper the next day. Now our clients can get something out on a digital platform faster than they can get it on TV.”

DAVID LEVY
EXECUTIVE VP, NONLINEAR REVENUE, FOX NETWORKS GROUP

DAVID LEVY leads the team responsible for nonlinear sales, monetization strategy and operations across Fox Networks Group’s portfolio. Levy, who cofounded true[X], the advanced-advertising company acquired by 21st Century Fox in 2015, also manages true[X]’s revenue and business operations. With his September 2016 appointment to his current role, Levy became one of Fox’s youngest EVP-level executives. He spearheaded the partnership between Fox Networks Group and Mondelez International in which Mondelez is leveraging Fox Advanced Ad Formats on streaming and VOD platforms. The partnership centers around ad-format innovation and content co-creation, and reflects how advertisers can work with entertainment properties to define new consumer brand experiences through storytelling. Levy’s work is delivering financial returns, FNG reports: In its fiscal first quarter 2016, FNG increased its revenue per view by 16%, year-over-year, while decreasing ad time by 13% by implementing new ad formats.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“Currency and unified metrics.”

Proudest accomplishment of 2016?
“Reducing commercial interruptions on Fox Full Episode Player (FEP) by 24% while improving monetization.”

Moment you knew you were in the right place, doing the thing you’re meant to be doing?
“I know I am doing the thing I should be doing when I wake up everyday passionate about the problem we’re trying to solve. When that changes, I know I’ll need a career change.”

MARCO LICEAGA
VP, MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS, UNIVISION DEPORTES

With nearly 20 years of experience in sports, Marco Liceaga is known for successfully managing broadcast and media for the National Football League in Mexico, and overseeing the launch and distribution of NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL Network in the territory. He has also directed marketing strategies and international business for Major League Soccer in New York and, since late 2012, has spearheaded marketing strategy across platforms for Univision Deportes, the multimedia sports arm of Univision Communications. Liceaga carried out a plan to overhaul the Univision Deportes brand across all media platforms while re-establishing it as the leading Spanish-language sports cable network. Recent marketing programs have helped propel UDN past ESPN Deportes as the No.1 Spanish-language sports network and drive UDN’s overall growth. Liceaga’s commitment is seen through successful new marketing programs such as Liga MX Campeón de Campeones, Balón de Oro Liga MX and Univision Deportes Tour. His efforts have also been evident in marketing to passionate fans by combining social, mobile and experiential efforts with major leagues and tournaments such as the World Cup, Copa América Centenario and Gold Cup.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“The continued fragmentation of content and audiences are ‘next waves’ that the industry contends with. While sports is in somewhat of a different and privileged position, we must continue to innovate and improve the consumer experience.”

Proudest accomplishment of 2016?
“2016 was a great year for Univision Deportes Network, but if I have to choose one single achievement it would be what we were able accomplish with Copa América Centenario. Our team worked hard to ensure we delivered the best-in-class programming, and because of it, UDN became the no. 1 sports network in America in any language during the month of June.”

BRINTON MILLER
SENIOR VP, TECHNOLOGY STRATEGY AND ARCHITECTURE, DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS

Since joining discovery in 2007, Brinton Miller has risen as an influential leader in the all-important cloud space. He oversees the company’s Global Media Engineering and IT Development teams, working with Discovery’s digital leadership on all strategic technology plans, investments and implementations globally. Discovery reaches more than 3 billion cumulative viewers across pay-TV and free-to-air platforms in more than 220 countries and territories. This year, his role grew to include oversight of day-to-day operations for Discovery’s Silver Spring, Md., production center, as well as the Discovery Television and Technology Center in Sterling, Va. During his Discovery tenure, he has managed multiple strategic projects, including overseeing the building of nine production facilities in five countries; the 2007 design and rebuild of DCTC to support HDTV telecasts; and the design and buildout of Discovery’s domestic media workflow and asset management systems.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“The Next Wave is already here, and it is change. The industry has never seen change like there is right now. Technology, consumer behavior and monetization models are all evolving faster than ever. The challenge, as with all change is the ability to quickly react. It also doesn’t hurt if you can position your organization to be one of the disrupters versus one of the disrupted.”

Proudest accomplishment of 2016?
“It was a year of massive technology change for Discovery. Our biggest accomplishment for 2016 was the launch of a new cloud-based delivery system that fundamentally changes the way we receive, format and distribute content. This has laid the ground work for our operation to rapidly respond to the ever-changing content publishing needs as Discovery launches new and innovative products.”

JANELLE MOMARY-NEELY
SUPERVISING PRODUCER, BENTO BOX ENTERTAINMENT

Originally hired as the producer of Bob’s Burgers, the Bento Box animated comedy on Fox, Janelle Momary-Neely quickly proved invaluable to the production and the overall company. Her promotion to supervising producer in 2015 was largely due to her drive to make the highest quality content and to build an authentic brand. She also oversees multiple other projects, including pilots, and is instrumental in augmenting and managing the studio’s production pipeline. She has earned an Emmy Award and multiple nominations, as well as several Annie and Pixie Awards. She also supervises Bento Box’s Special Projects Department, which creates pilots and presentations, and was the supervising producer of Seth Meyers’ and Mike Shoemaker’s The Awesomes for Hulu.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“We are indeed currently in the “Next Wave,” as the industry continues to contend with the concept of creating strong content that can live across multiple viewing platforms. With more options than ever before, and the desire to view content when and where they want, the viewer rules, and we producers need to meet these challenges head on.”

Moment you knew were in the right place doing the thing you’re meant to be doing?
“Although I went to school for architecture, I fell into animation and immediately fell in love. While finishing up school I got a temp job as an executive assistant at Disney at the time Mickey Mouse was first being presented outside of the classics. I got to work directly with Roy Disney, and after my first week in seeing how TV animation was made — from the structure of production to the endless creative opportunities on the shows — I was hooked.”

MELISA ORDOÑEZ
DIRECTOR, PROGRAMMING ACQUISITIONS, DISH NETWORK/SLING TV

MELISA ORDOÑEZ negotiates programming contracts for Dish Network and has filled that role since November 2007, adding the negotiation of rights for broadcast carriage on both Dish Network and over-the-top spinoff Sling TV in 2014 and 2015. Because Dish is the only multichannel video programming distributor that carries local channels in all 210 markets, she is one of the few industry executives who has negotiated for retransmission consent with every single U.S. broadcaster for both Dish and for Sling TV She has successfully negotiated more than 1,000 such agreements. She works closely with Dish Network’s customer retention department to coordinate and prepare for the removal of local channels in their perspective designated market areas during all retransmission negotiations. She has worked with Nielsen Media to establish new programming designated market area boundaries, increasing customer satisfaction and retention.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with the most?
“Steep competition and rising programming costs: You have your traditional MVPDs, sites and apps (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube), OTT distributors like Sling, Sony Vue, and DirecTV Now, and you have over-the-air stations. Keeping content prices low enough to keep subscribers paying for content is going to be one of the biggest hurdles we face.”

Moment you knew you were in the right place, doing the thing you’re meant to be doing?
“After I signed my first programming deal, I knew I was in the right place, doing the thing I was meant to be doing. Negotiating content agreements never feels like work, and is something I truly enjoy doing.”

JOSH PRESSNELL
CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, PENTHERA

JOSH PRESSNELL has led Penthera’s evolution in the mobile video download sector since 2011, serving as the company’s director of engineering prior to becoming CTO in 2017. Earlier in his career, he became well-known in the mobile development industry as an independent developer of top-ranked, and top-grossing, iOS mobile apps. At Penthera, he has personally worked on every software development kit (SDK) Penthera offers and was the primary architect of the company’s core iOS SDK, which enables content providers to offer video download-to-go to consumers. Penthera’s software is now used by such content providers as StarzPlay, and the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime have adopted download-to-go as a must-have feature for any streaming provider.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“I think the biggest challenge the industry is going to face is the changing expectations of the ‘Next Wave’ of customers. The traditional cable/video customer is an aging population. The new generation of video consumers is a younger group that grew up in a time where change is constant, brand loyalty is fickle, and nobody sits still. So-called cord-cutters are an increasing demographic and the day of the multichannel package is starting to set. How our industry pivots to address the needs of this new group is going to shape our business going forward. More than ever, we need to focus on the best user experiences we can deliver and to do so, we may need to make what may seem like some disruptive choices. Embracing a model that supports subscriptions to individual channels, the ability to subscribe to ongoing content feeds and the ability to take that content with you anywhere, whether or not a broadband connection is available, will become a necessity, and that will be a hard shift in culture for some.”

DANA REYNGOUDT
VP, PARTNER MARKETING, CONTENT DISTRIBUTION, NBCUNIVERSAL

DANA REYNGOUDT is the brand manager and key liaison for the NBCUniversal cable entertainment networks USA Network, Syfy, Bravo, Oxygen and Sprout. This past year, she was elevated to VP and added more brand responsibilities, with five networks under her purview. She played an integral role in the marketing efforts during an extremely productive deal renewal period, contributing to the overall strategy to mobilize fan bases on all platforms including on-air, online, VOD, TV everywhere and social media. She’s been project manager for numerous network tentpole events and was instrumental in developing and executing such award-winning campaigns as Bravo’s “Top Chef: The Tour” and the NBCUniversal “Your Super Solution” affiliate promotion across the entire cable portfolio, a program which continues to deliver $60 million in cross-channel value annually.

What is the “Next Wave” that the industry will have to contend with most?
“The emergence of live linear streaming products like YouTube TV, DirecTV Now, Sony PlayStation Vue and others represent a new opportunity for distribution, and it will be interesting to track consumer adoption rate, particularly among new pay TV subscribers.”

Biggest hurdle of 2017 — and your plan to deal with it?
“Content discoverability! With so many new platforms and partners emerging, there are so many places for consumers to view our content. We are tackling this in a number of ways — working closely with partners on brand attribution, optimizing metadata and examining our own crossplatform messaging as viewer behavior continues to evolve.”

Moment you knew you were in the right place doing the thing you’re meant to be doing?
“This may sound crazy, but I’ve always known. In my high-school yearbook ‘where will you be?’ I predicted I would be working in TV. I put it out in the universe, and here I am.”

JAMES SHAUT
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TECHNOLOGY ENVIRONMENTS AND STRATEGY, COMCAST CABLE

In his role within Comcast Cable’s technology and products organization, James Shaut is charged with developing a unified and consolidated enterprise testing facility business model by engaging growth opportunities with cloud computing, virtualization and automation of legacy, current and next-generation products and services. He has 20 years of experience in leadership and technology with Comcast, Verizon, Qwest Government Services, Pennsylvania Power and Light Telecom and the U.S. Marine Corps. Prior to starting his current role in October 2016, he developed Comcast’s comprehensive innovation facilitation system across the entire company. His priorities included boosting innovation, defining objectives, mobilizing the organization behind innovative challenges and building on ideas and technology advancements across Comcast. He worked to sustain innovation as an ongoing transformational endeavor, stimulate entrepreneurship, facilitate networking and communications and prioritize related activities across Comcast and NBCUniversal. He took an enterprise-innovation program that started out with 30 ideas in 2012 and ended 2016 with 8,000 ideas.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“IoT, or Internet of Things, as everything will continue to connect with each other from work to home and the travel between.”

Proudest accomplishment of 2016?
“Reaching 8,000 innovative ideas submitted from employees within my organization when just a few years earlier we barely hit 500.”

Moment you knew you were in the right place doing the thing you’re meant to be doing?
“When I was in the Marine Corps — I was a newly promoted 20-year-old sergeant assigned to my first large team and felt the exhilarating sensation of leading people to achieve things they didn’t think were possible.”

ERIN VOGEL
SENIOR VP, CREATIVE STRATEGIST, BRAND CONTENT, MEDIAVEST | SPARK

ERIN VOGEL joined Mediavest | Spark in 2010 and has worked with clients such as Valspar, Red Lobster, Hanes and Ari by Ariana Grande. In her 17-year tenure within parent organization Publicis Groupe, she’s worked across an array of disciplines, and she’s played a key role in developing her agency’s content team from the ground up. Her Chicago-based team has grown by 300% in the last year and the number of active projects has tripled. Their approach came to life in a recent campaign with client Red Lobster. Her team executed a season-long integrated sponsorship of Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch with a sustainability focus, including tagged tune-ins, social sneak peeks, on-air show intros and custom video with Capt. Sig Hansen. They generated more than 1.5 million views in 24 hours — a new brand record for social video performance.

What is the “Next Wave” that the industry will have to contend with most?
“My vision for the industry’s ‘Next Wave’ may be scary for some folks, but for me, it’s incredibly exciting. I foresee continued conversation around the convergence of data and how it applies to creativity. Additionally, it will be interesting to see the continued evolution of the age of the algorithm and how that determines the future of storytelling, but with the progression, we as an industry need to ensure that creativity never becomes a commodity. Change happens when people are willing to open their minds to other ways of solving problems, and I am excited to see what the future holds for all of us as we move forward.”

NICO VRIJENHOEK
GLOBAL PROCUREMENT DIRECTOR, LIBERTY GLOBAL

NICO VRIJENHOEK is responsible for pan-European and regional sourcing projects for marketing, sales and care services/products across the Liberty Global footprint in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Central Europe. His scope of responsibilities include media buying; creative; all customer contact technology tools; contact (call) centers, to deliver outsourced customer care; market research; point of sales material; online marketing; and billing and collections. Liberty Global, with operations in more than 30 countries that serve more than 29 million customers and generate more than $20 billion in revenue, is the world’s largest international TV and broadband company. He recently handled a Pan European Media Request for Proposal (RFP) process that has led to an annual operational expense savings of 8%, according to LGI, and led a global integration of customer contact center strategy throughout 2015-16 to streamline some 68 outsourced vendors of customer care to a short list of five strategic partners.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“Our industry is at an exciting time with a lot of new innovations and opportunities, but also with a strong changing customer base. This can be from a perspective of demanding different content, the way of consuming content, but also expectations on customer service and experience. I believe the ‘Next Wave’ the industry needs to contend with is ensuring the customer is offered an experience instead of a product.”

Proudest accomplishment of 2016?
“Launching and completing the largest contact center services tender in Europe in 2016. This required full alignment across 12 European markets of Liberty Global on the requirements, standardization on definitions and all managing multiple languages and products. The launch of the tender was followed by an intensive period of negotiations with the suppliers and alignment with the Liberty Global stakeholders to maximize the deals.”

RACHEL WEBBER
EXECUTIVE VP, DIGITAL PRODUCT, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

RACHEL WEBBER leads the digital business across National Geographic Partners, helping to adapt and bring the content of the almost 130-year-old brand to digitally connected audiences across the world. Nat Geo has about 300 million followers across social media, and the TV network is available in almost 500 million homes across 171 countries and 45 languages. Since joining NGP, Webber’s digital initiatives have earned Nat Geo some of its highest viewership numbers ever. This past November, coinciding with a rebrand, the network premiered Mars, the scripted and unscripted drama series about humans landing on Mars in 2033. Webber’s digital extras included a prequel series and helped guide Mars to reach 15 million worldwide viewers and hit No. 1 in the U.K. Nat Geo aired Before the Flood, the climate-change feature documentary, commercial-free in order to underscore the message, and Webber’s efforts made the film available for free on digital platforms including YouTube, Hulu, iTunes, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Google Play. More than 60 million people worldwide viewed Before the Flood.

What is the “Next Wave” the industry will have to contend with most?
“Two words: Your attention. Continuing to deliver quality and scale and cultural significance at a time when there is so much media fragmentation and a thousand different ways people can connect with your brand is something companies of all shapes and sizes will be addressing.”

Moment you knew you were in the right place doing the thing you’re meant to be doing?
“Immediately following our Gender Revolution premiere on National Geographic, we went live on Facebook with a Town Hall session moderated by Katie Couric. Witnessing the community discussion we sparked on such an important topic, and enabling our audiences to engage with each other and with experts was incredibly inspiring.”

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