MEDIA CFO — Episode 011 — Claire Hungate talks to Tobias Jaeger about her work as in-house counsel and business affairs were the perfect preparation for life as a COO, CEO, and officer of a public company
We sat down with former Brave Bison CEO Claire Hungate to talk to her about her start in the television industry by working in a pubcaster in-house legal team and subsequently rising through the ranks in business affairs and, later, company leadership at several production companies. Claire was instrumental in making a studio-backed management buy-out of a listed production company a reality and after leading the newly private company for some time, Claire became the CEO of AIM-listed social content studio Brave Bison.
Claire started her career more than 20 years ago as a barrister in BBC’s in-house legal department. Since then she has been in the entertainment industry in various legal and business affairs roles in production companies like Princess Productions, Wall to Wall Media and subsequently as Chief Operating Officer at AIM-listed shared media group. In that role, Claire was instrumental in taking the company private in a management buy-out backed by Warner Bros. and she became the CEO once the MBO was completed. Claire just recently completed another milestone in her career as CEO of AIM-listed Brave Bison and is ready to take on the next challenge.
“You have an absolute responsibility to shareholders and that weighs on you very heavily. Going to see potential investors who are pension fund, you’re sitting there thinking, well people are investing their pension funds into a company that I’m running, that is a heavy responsibility. And I like to think that I have quite a strong moral compass and I always try to be transparent and honest in doing business. And when you’re running a public company that is an important consideration to you. And so you have to put always first the best interests of the company and the best interests of the shareholders. And as a CEO of a public company, it’s not like running your own startup where it’s about you, it was never about me. I think that’s difficult for some CEOs, but I think it’s partly because I’ve been a COO before and as a COO, you don’t take any glory for anything, you don’t have an ego, you just go and get stuff done.”
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Tobias Jaeger: Claire, welcome to the program.
Claire Hungate: Thank you for having me.
TJ: Well it’s a pleasure to have you, and I’m really looking forward to chatting with you because obviously, you’re a veteran of the industry.
CH: Does that mean old?
TJ: Not at all. Experienced. And when I got to know you what I found fascinating was that I think you’re one of the few people that I’ve seen in the industry from almost every angle. Maybe except for talent, I don’t know, but you’ve seen it from a legal perspective, from the CEO perspective, from someone who has to run the organization. And before we dive into that, I would love to talk to you about your journey and how you got there, how you got started in the business. What was your first kind of entertainment job?
CH: I left college during a recession and actually went into retail, which was great fun when you’re 21 years old. And I moved to London. I worked for a record store called Our Price, which doesn’t exist anymore, I think it was bought by WH Smith, and then they got rid of it. So that was fun, and then I went to work for Waterstones. So I worked at a couple of Waterstones, and it’s lovely being that age and having no responsibilities and living in London. Your only responsibility is to close the book shop at night, and you make great friends and have lots of fun. And I then started running the book shop at the Institute of Contemporary Art on The Mall where I became very, very interested in contemporary art, both live arts and contemporary art. And while I was there, one of my colleagues set up a digital arts center, which was backed by Toshiba and we began working with Harbottle & Lewis to kind of put together the deal around this digital arts hub and the deal around it, the sponsorship around it, the rights angles around it and I became quite fascinated with the law and IP law and decided to go and qualify as a lawyer.
TJ: Was that something you had studied? You had mentioned college.
CH: No. I studied literature with film studies at Warwick. While I was at the ICA, I studied, and I did an MA in critical and cultural theory so I was big into semiotics and all that kind of stuff which, in later life, I realized was completely irrelevant and a great luxury to have done earlier in life. But then later in life, those things become less important, and you realize there are other priorities in life than talking about semiotics and philosophy and the meaning of things.
“So I learned quite early on that as a lawyer my skills lay in deal-making and commerciality. I don’t believe you can teach that, I believe people either have an instinct for that or they don’t. And I’ve spent so much time in my career interviewing business affairs people which is what we tend to call lawyers in TV production, as you know, and you cannot learn the instinct for deal-making.”
TJ: You discovered they weren’t hiring at the philosophy company?
CH: Exactly. It didn’t pay enough at the semiotics company, so I’ve withdrawn from that. But I went to study law, so I … in the UK you can, if you’ve got a three year BA or BSc, you can go and do a one-year conversion course which is called the CP. So you do a one-year legal conversion course, and then I decided that I wanted to be a barrister. You then decide whether you want to be a solicitor or a barrister. I decided I wanted to be a barrister because that was the quicker route. As a barrister, you had to do a one-year pupillage, as a solicitor you had to two years articles. So I was a slightly mature student by that time because lots of people on that course had just come out of college so I just wanted the quickest route to as much money as possible as quickly as possible, so I decided I wanted to be a barrister rather than a solicitor. It was a quicker route to finishing, so I had to do my one-year conversion course, then you had to do one year to train as a barrister and then one-year pupillage. I did half my … I always had an interest in the arts and in entertainment, so I pushed and pushed and pushed to do six months of my pupillage in house at-
TJ: What’s a pupillage?
CH: A pupillage is like articles, so solicitors do articles and barristers do pupillage, so it’s your on-the-job training. So I did some of that in a chamber, so barristers work in chambers and then I hassled and hassled and hassled at the BBC to get half my pupillage in house, which you could do. And so I persuaded a guy called Rikki Nath, who was then director of legal at BBC resources, so the BBC used to be divided up into … I think it was BBC public service, BBC resources, BBC R&D. So BBC resources became part of BBC Worldwide I think. But it was the commercial arm of the BBC in those days. So Rikki was the director of legal and I persuaded him to take me on for a pupillage. He couldn’t pay me, in those days you didn’t have to, so now you have to pay someone. If they’re pupillage you have to pay them. So I was unpaid for six months, very grateful to my brother for letting me live in his apartment in London during that time.
TJ: That’s what brothers are for, right?
CH: Exactly, exactly. Yeah, that’s what I kept telling him. And very grateful to Ricky for giving me that opportunity. He really put me through a kind of trial number of different interviews and questions and blah, blah, blah. But I did my six months pupillage there, really, really enjoyed it and then moved on and went straight into working in independent TV production.
TJ: Would you say that the pupillage, that was the kind of place where you learned the business, how it all works? Or kind of dove into more the mechanics of that industry?
CH: So I learned quite early on that as a lawyer my skills lay in deal-making and commerciality. I don’t believe you can teach that, I believe people either have an instinct for that or they don’t. And I’ve spent so much time in my career interviewing business affairs people which is what we tend to call lawyers in TV production, as you know, and you cannot learn the instinct for deal-making. You just have it or you don’t and I realized quite early on that I wasn’t great with detail, I wasn’t very patient and so as a lawyer that you would pay money to, I’m slightly unfair to myself but I was much better in house, in a business affairs role which later became more of a managerial role. I was very, very lucky at the BBC because Ricky had a very, very kind of hands-off attitude. He told me later he was always watching what I was doing, or always had someone watching what I was doing, but he gave me a great level of independence. I remember the first big contract I did was for the Eurovision Song Contest and for some reason the BBC owned the scoreboard and we were lending it out. I can’t remember who to, maybe to Norway and so I had to do the contract for the provision of the Eurovision Song Contest’s scoreboard to the Norwegian broadcasting corporation or whoever it was, I can’t exactly remember. And that was quite terrifying. But of course no-one ever looks at a contract again unless something goes wrong. But I did that with Ricky pretty hands off working with the commercial teams within the BBC and you just learn very quickly. And in business affairs a lot of what you are doing isn’t about your knowledge of the law and what you learn from a textbook, it’s what you know about the market, the value of what you have, the value of what someone else has, how much they want what you have. It’s market forces, isn’t it? And putting together a deal and then a contract from there. So not much of what you do in business affairs in TV production can be learned from textbooks, it’s from the experience, it’s from knowledge, it’s from instinct.
TJ: So when did you feel that kind of change or shift happened in you? Because you described your studies, that was all very creative and artsy and then the institute. When did you feel like, oh, hold on, there’s … I don’t know, maybe another side to you or did you feel like you’d changed to become the creative deal maker? How was that process for you? Because it feels like you went from art to the legal profession that’s usually perceived as quite dry and technical. But you talk about it as a fresh game. The deal-making and that’s an instinct that you just have. Did you not have the opportunity to kind of live that part before?
CH: I think I got to the point with retail and with the arts where I could see it wasn’t a profession for me. I wanted a profession and the great thing about the legal qualification for me is that it’s a great discipline to have done. It gives you a way of processing, a way of thinking, a way of looking at a problem, of analyzing a problem. As I say, I’m not a terribly patient person, so analyzing things isn’t a great skill of mine, so I suppose it was a new layer of skill to add onto the way I looked at the world. I knew I wanted a profession and I knew I wanted to go out into the world and have a profession that would earn me a certain amount of money. I suppose I didn’t want to struggle working in retail and I absolutely love the arts, but in the UK people who work in the arts are not paid very much money. People who work in retail are not paid very much money. If you look at booksellers in the States, for instance, and other countries it’s considered a profession. In the UK it isn’t and I wanted a profession and I suppose it was only when I started doing it I realized that I had a bit of a flair for deal-making and I got excited. The bigger the deal, the better and that became something that drove and excited me in my professional career. But at the same time I didn’t want to be a corporate lawyer, I always, and now more than ever given everything I’ve done and my age I suppose, I will only do things that I’m passionate about. And so it’s quite important for me I suppose at that early stage to be a lawyer in companies that I was passionate about, where I was proud of the output and the content around the deals I was doing.
TJ: Yeah. So where did you go from there? You said you went straight into TV production.
CH: Yeah, so I was very lucky that I got a Head of Business Affairs job. So straight out of qualifying, so straight out of finishing my pupillage at the BBC a company called Princess Productions who now very, very sadly no longer exist, but Princess was a company set up by Henrietta Conrad and Sebastian Scott. They had come out of Planet 24, Big Breakfast. Sebastian was an ex-TV presenter, incredible creative, probably the best person, the best sales person I’ve ever seen. So Sebastian pitching in a room is just second to none.
TJ: What was it that made him so remarkable?
CH: I think in other companies I’ve worked at, and I was talking to someone about this the other day, when you’re selling TV shows, ultimately we’re selling TV shows, right? You can’t be too precious about it, you’re selling a commodity and Sebastian, I’ve worked in companies where the idea is so precious to you and you’re so passionate about it that the idea that someone that you’re pitching to doesn’t like that idea is so alien to you that you can become very defensive about it and it’s like, well, what do they know, I’ll take my idea somewhere else. Sebastian had the amazing ability to be able to mold his idea according to the reaction he was getting from a commissioner in a way that-
TJ: On the fly, in the moment.
CH: It’s this and you could see the reaction he was getting was that’s not quite right for us because we’re more thinking … well actually the idea is this, or the idea could be this. He was an incredible salesman and he had a good enough creative instinct and understanding of how a format is created and how it works to be able to change his idea in the room. Henrietta was a great businesswoman, had an incredible address book. I think we had Gwyneth Paltrow’s phone kind of registered to Princess Productions at one point. Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna were amongst her friends. So they came up with Late Lunch and Light Lunch, which was the first vehicle for Mel and Sue on Channel 4, so they were a light entertainment company, but they also had a talent company as well. So that talent company represented people like Vernon Kay and Steve Jones. That was run by an amazing head of talent called Emma Hardy who now works for Channel 4, but she just had this, was able to spot talent very early on and grow talent. We also had as part of the talent agency new comedians, we had Mackenzie Crook and we had … oh I can’t remember, Gavin and Stacey guy. Matt, I can’t remember his surname. So they represented a lot of incredible talent. So I immediately had exposure to the talent business and TV production. I had never done a TV commissioning agreement when I got to Princess. I had been with BBC resources where we were doing studio contracts, services contracts, so I had to walk straight in and negotiate deals with Channel 4 and the BBC having never done it before.
TJ: It’s very interesting because the set up of that company sounds like something that is kind of on vogue again where production companies try to attach talent to themselves a little bit more permanently than just for one project. So it’s quite remarkable that they’ve done that back then already.
CH: Yeah, but what I always say to people, I was talking to a production company recently who were talking about well maybe we’ll start working with talent, it’s incredibly labor-intensive and for 10 or 15% commission, which you’re probably getting squeezed to these days, it’s very, very hard work. And as a talent agency you own nothing. You have a contract with someone which might be for a year or two years, you can’t hold someone to that contract. We don’t have legalized slavery in this country, so you cannot hold someone to a talent contract and then you might be entitled to a little bit of commission going forward on deals you’ve already done, but you don’t own anything. And that’s the difficulty with talent agencies, you’re not owning IP. And as we all know now there was this incredible moment in 2004 when the new terms of trade came in, the communications act brought in the new terms of trade and companies like Princess who I worked for then and Wall to Wall who I went to work for next turned from being lifestyle businesses into proper IP owning businesses that could be sold to US studios. And that was an incredible change in the industry I think.
TJ: So you just mentioned Wall to Wall. Did you transition there in a different role or did you kind of pivot again in another direction?
“I could also see the funding models were changing and where the money was coming from was different. You had companies like GroupM investing. Brands, media agencies investing in production. So I could see the landscape was changing. And so I thought about setting up my own vehicle, but as I said, I couldn’t quite see where the business model was going to end yet and I still can’t. I look at all these super indies and they start looking tiny next to the Googles and the Facebooks and the Apples and the Fox Disneys and then you think, well, I either start getting a merger of the super-indies in fact and then in five years time they’ll all start fragmenting again, you’ll go back to boutique operations. I can’t quite see at the moment and so for me Brave Bison was a combination of an entrepreneurial challenge, it was in turnaround mode, it was a company that had been in crisis, had a checkered history that needed to be turned around, so it was an entrepreneurial challenge, but it was an existing company, it was publicly listed, I’d never been a CEO of a publicly listed company, so that was also a challenge.”
CH: Yeah, so I suppose at Princess I took over business affairs, commercial operations and distribution. So I started going to MIP, we used distributors but actually we were doing a lot of deals ourselves and things that are defining moments for you. I remember turning up at my first MIP, I was completely on my own, it was just me, I’d never been to MIP before, no-one had really told me very much about it.
TJ: It’s nice to have the friends, it’s beautiful, you’ll love it.
CH: I know, exactly. You just walk up and down the Croisette. I had a few meetings but I didn’t really know how it worked and I had a few contacts that I met up with. But these are kind of terrifying moments in your career that end up defining you and making you a better person and you go back to MIP twice a year, you start meeting up with people, the contacts that you meet up with, you get to know how to do it. But I started doing quite a lot of distribution for Princess, some of our commercial deals. So much of what I learned about business, I learned from Henrietta and actually one of Henrietta’s close friends was a guy called Ben Silverman who, at that point, I’m trying to remember, did he work for William Morris? I think he was an agent at William Morris and then set up his own production company called Reveille, so we did a lot of, we were doing deals, we were represented by William Morris in the States, so I was working with Ben to do deals. Obviously, you learn quite a lot from someone like Ben Silverman in terms of how to do deals. And then I ended up having to deals where Ben was on the other side of the table and I had to negotiate with Ben. So as I say, these are all kind of defining moments that help you develop those really, really kind of key skills in negotiating deals and TV deals and just existing in that world. So an opportunity came up at Wall to Wall which was, I believe it was commercial and legal director. It was in 2004 when the terms of trade had just changed. Wall to Wall was run by a guy called Alex Graham who is a legend in the TV production industry and one of the very few people I suppose in television who, at that time, I’m sure there are more of them now, who really, really believed in the creative but also understood the value of what he was creating and wasn’t embarrassed to say I want to make money from this and one day I want to sell my company because I’ve remortgaged my house three times over the last 20 years, I’ve built something with value and now I want to sell it. And Alex was going on a journey whereby he needed to take Wall to Wall … Wall to Wall had an incredible brand, an incredibly strong brand. It always came up as number one in all the peer polls, whether that was international publications like Real Screen or in UK publications like Broadcast as the most respected TV company in the world because their creative bar was so high there. But Alex knew with the terms of trade coming in that we were going to be, he could create real value. And so we needed to turn Wall to Wall into a profit making company, it wasn’t enough just to have lots of big blue chip productions with a lot of revenue going through the company, there needed to be profit. So he brought me in and then I was followed by a new CFO called Stuart Mullin and we worked together to make Wall to Wall profitable and ultimately we sold Wall to Wall to Shed Media.
TJ: Was that the first role where you kind of extended the role to include more commercial duties and actually running the business? Because obviously, you’re, when you’re kind of doing business affairs and the legal work, often people aren’t involved in shaping the future of the company, they’re actually just executing good agreements. Was that the first one where you kind of got more involved in building a business?
CH: Yeah. I mean Wall to Wall had more of an infrastructure in terms of a management team of which I was part. So there was, at Princess it was, I suppose, at that stage of it’s evolution that Hen and Sebastian ran the company and they kind of developed the strategy for the company we followed, so at Wall to Wall Alex was a big believer in having a proper board and having senior members of the team contribute to the future strategy of the company. I set up a distribution arm, so we made a decision that we weren’t going to give our rights to any distributors, we were going to keep everything. And so we set up a very lean and mean distribution operation and so when we sold to Shed we had a huge library of IP that we could then pass onto Shed’s distribution company. So yes, I was working across the full gamut of rights in, exploitation of those rights and then rights out at the other end. And we had some incredible IP to play with. So during that time Wall to Wall was a very traditional blue-chip documentary company and it’s sort of grown up making big, big budgets, co-production, documentary co-productions for Channel 4, the BBC, co-produced with ZDF or Mediaset and PBS, those big old complicated factual co-productions. Which actually have now transferred into the scripted world, but in those days you didn’t do co-productions in scripted because all the territories wanted something different and there was no such thing as this kind of high concept scripted idea that could transcend geographical boundaries and actually those big blue chip documentaries tend not to exist in the co-pro world anymore. They became a bit unfashionable, people just couldn’t afford to spend that amount of money on factual production. But what we realized at Wall to Wall is that we needed more of a mixed portfolio of programming. We needed some formats because … and none of this is rocket science these days, but it was the early days, it was the heyday of the formats. It was the days of the Wife Swaps and the Millionaires and these shows that we suddenly realized in terms of trade meant that we owned the IP but we were going to keep 85% of it and when the terms of trade were negotiated, part of that argument was around no-one is going to sell these rights as hard as the producer is going to because that revenue is so much more than material to the producer than it is to the BBC or ITV or Channel 4.
“At Princess I took over business affairs, commercial operations and distribution. So I started going to MIP, we used distributors but actually we were doing a lot of deals ourselves and things that are defining moments for you. I remember turning up at my first MIP, I was completely on my own, it was just me, I’d never been to MIP before, no-one had really told me very much about it. You just walk up and down the Croisette. I had a few meetings but I didn’t really know how it worked and I had a few contacts that I met up with. But these are kind of terrifying moments in your career that end up defining you and making you a better person and you go back to MIP twice a year, you start meeting up with people, the contacts that you meet up with, you get to know how to do it.”
TJ: They don’t really have an incentive from their-
CH: Like ITV, the ad revenue is more interesting to them than the IP revenue is probably arguable these days.
TJ: I think that has changed 180 degrees, but back in the day their broadcasts all made them bulk up their revenue with ad sales. So they wouldn’t spend the money to provide and pitch formats. So other broadcasters-
CH: Not as hard or effectively as we could. No-one sells the format like that producer does because they’re passionate about it. So we started diversifying the productions that Wall to Wall produced and so much of success in TV production is not necessarily luck, but zeitgeist, can you come up with something that just hits the public imagination? And Wall to Wall launched a show called Who Do You Think You Are? which, when it was commissioned by the BBC, was commissioned as a one-off series, the BBC was doing a season about what is Great Britain, who are Great Britons? So they commissioned 10 parts about family history of celebrities. That show was a massive success, but it was not re-commissioned for, I think it was nine or 10 months because it was commissioned by Jane Root, she then left to go to Discovery and as we know about broadcasters, no-one wants to commission someone else’s show, they want to commission their own shows. But eventually the new factual commissioner, I can’t recall who it was, realized that they needed to bring back Who Do You Think You Are? That it was a great show. I think they are now on season … must be 16, 17.
TJ: Wow, that’s great. I mean-
CH: I mean that’s 15 years later, still in production…
TJ: It’s quite rare that someone would make that kind of daring move to bring something like that back that wasn’t there. Because you’re right, usually it’s clean slate and you can not take it to anyone else because we’ve introduced it there already.
CH: But doing history on prime time TV in an entertaining way that can attract five to seven million viewers is difficult. So for a broadcaster like the BBC who are supposed to be educating, that’s a real tick straight away and just an incredible show. Every time I watch it, I worked for Wall to Wall for a long time, but every time I watch it I’m just amazed by the stories that they find. It’s an incredible show. But around that, as well as selling the show internationally, we’re able to do some incredible sponsorship deals so we sold it to NBC and we took with us Ancestry.com, so there was this incredible moment where Who Do You Think You Are? went on air and Ancestry.com were investing millions and millions of dollars in digitizing the national archives in the UK. And so as an individual, as a consumer, you could watch Who Do You Think You Are? be inspired by what you saw, go online and start doing your own family history.
TJ: When was this?
CH: This was 2004. 2004, 2005.
TJ: Wow. So that sounds right at the forefront of that. I mean that was the time around when broadband internet slowly started to spread, so quite an advanced thing. Nowadays that’s a standard promotional thing to do, but back in the day that must have been the first one of its kind, right? There wasn’t really that cross-pollination between a website and a TV program.
CH: Yeah, maybe, maybe. But because it was a BBC show, we couldn’t have any-
TJ: Oh it wasn’t advertised?
CH: No. It wasn’t. What Ancestry always told us though is as soon as we went online in the show, people would go to Ancestry.com even though we weren’t producing the show with Ancestry.com.
TJ: They didn’t pay any money-
CH: They didn’t pay any money in the UK.
TJ: … to cross-promote it?
CH: No, no, no, no.
TJ: Oh okay. I thought they had been involved.
CH: But they were. So when we took the show abroad and we took it to NBC, we were able to take Ancestry.com with us.
TJ: Got you, okay.
CH: And just did an incredible deal with Ancestry.com and they’re still sponsors today. So NBC took three seasons in the States, it then went to Discovery and it’s now just gone back to NBC. Ancestry.com are still sponsors of it today. So I think in the UK we did four or five book deals, we did a game, we did a digital app in the end actually in the UK, but all around the world there are these incredible sponsorship commercial activities. But in the UK, when you’re broadcasting on the BBC, you are hugely restricted, even more so in those days, around the commercial activities. So had that show been on ITV, we would have made a lot more money than we made. But yeah, that was part of diversifying Wall to Wall’s portfolio because in the UK, as you will know, in TV production you are very defined within genres as a TV producer. So it meant that Wall to Wall’s then seen by other broadcasters as a factual entertainment company and we were able to move more into that space and diversify their portfolio. We then had a big scripted hit called New Tricks, we went to obviously 12 seasons of that, so we were able to take Wall to Wall to a place where not only did it have a big revenue and big budgets, but it was also profitable and set it up very well to sell it to Shed Media.
TJ: Now during all that time where you mentioned the formats obviously being kind of a new thing, how did you personally navigate the process of encountering new stuff? Like new agreements, new types of agreements, of kind of navigating the process of finding a good solution, how did you educate yourself? How did you know what to do in an environment where there was no handbook?
CH: Part of the reason I left TV production in the end is because whether I was doing a deal with the BBC or with Netflix or Amazon, you’re arguing over the same things. These are all, sorry, not arguments, these are negotiations over rights and you might be talking about different pipes and different windows and different territorial breakdowns, but they are still basic rights negotiations and you’re weighing up risk and value. And I think ultimately those deals rely on weighing up risk and value. And it never seemed terribly complicated to me. What was more complicated is that everyone used different rights definitions, so every single broadcaster you dealt with used slightly different rights definitions from Nat Geo and Discovery and BBC, et cetera. There is no one single definition of what someone’s particular service offering is defined as. Whether they’re a cable operator or a streaming service, blah blah blah, so there’s no single set of definitions which would be helpful. But I suppose it’s just industry knowledge. We used to have, actually when I was at Wall to Wall we had a little group of heads of business affairs and commercial who used to meet, so it’d be the head of business affairs for Tiger Aspect, for Kudos, for Hat Trick, various other companies and we would meet and people were very open about discussing the deals they were doing because, are we competitive? I suppose you’re competitive if you’re tendering for a particular show, but you’re not necessarily head-on competitive in the TV production world. And so whilst protecting confidentiality because everyone was a lawyer and so they were aware that they need to protect confidentiality, people were reasonably open about the deals they were doing, the rights they were giving, the windowing they were doing and so there was an exchange of information in a fairly open way. And so I had a network of people that I could go out to if I didn’t know the answer. And that was always useful and valued and I suppose you should never underestimate the value of your networking in this industry.
TJ: I think you’re spot on because it’s interesting, this industry is only people. That’s the only thing there is, so that’s the only personal asset besides, you know, your expertise or your knowledge you can have as the network. And as you said, speaking with people regularly to see what’s going on in the market. Because obviously you can read the traits all day long, but the juicy details are often not in there or not worth the same gravity I guess.
CH: I noticed actually when I moved into the digital media sector that it was different. And maybe it was just because I was, I had been less exposed and so I didn’t have as deep a network, but people were less willing to share information with you. And I think that has something to do with the size of the market, it’s much smaller in the UK and the evolution, it was at a much earlier stage of evolution so people hadn’t quite realized that actually, you were stronger if you shared information. People were much more protective of the deals they were doing, who they were doing deals with. Almost quite secretive about that kind of thing, whereas in TV production we were pretty willing to share information with each other.
“I think he was an agent at William Morris and then set up his own production company called Reveille, so we did a lot of, we were doing deals, we were represented by William Morris in the States, so I was working with Ben to do deals. Obviously, you learn quite a lot from someone like Ben Silverman in terms of how to do deals. And then I ended up having to deals where Ben was on the other side of the table and I had to negotiate with Ben. So as I say, these are all kind of defining moments that help you develop those really, really kind of key skills in negotiating deals and TV deals and just existing in that world.”
TJ: Because in the end it actually benefits everyone and hurts no-one.
CH: And of course in the UK we were very privileged, and still are, to have Pact and so Pact had, and still have I believe, a business affairs advisory service. So you could always ring them up-
TJ: An excellent one by the way. Shout out to Pact.
CH: Yeah, no, it’s great and Pact will be under pressure again because can the terms of trade survive the likes of Britbox and the streaming services, et cetera, or is that all going to be up for re-negotiation? So I think Pact, as the market constantly changes, Pact will be called upon again.
TJ: Yeah. You mentioned you sold the company eventually to Shed, which I believe was a public company?
TJ: How did that change your work or your personal role going from a private company to a public company and obviously different accountability, especially in the media space I think it’s always very tricky because the market doesn’t always understand how that industry really works. What did you notice how things changed, did they change?
CH: I suppose for me at that time because you were within one of the production companies rather than at group level, you saw less of that. And that’s almost one of the skills of working at group level, which I realized when I started running Warner TV Production that you’re trying to protect the production companies in a way, from all that kind of nonsense that they don’t need to get involved in because you want them focused on doing what they do. You don’t want them being diverted by admin or bureaucracy or any of that stuff. So I think when we first became part of the group, we were probably protected from the machinations of AIM, it was only later on. We stayed in our own offices, so we sold, I got to Wall to Wall in 2004, we sold to Shed in 2007. I was promoted to be managing director of Wall to Wall, so I took on a slightly different role, took P&L responsibility and then I took on the role as commercial director across all the Shed production companies. So I maintained the MD job at Wall to Wall and then took on the commercial director role across all the production companies. And at that time it had become fashionable to list on AIM. So Shed were on AIM, RDF were on AIM, Tinopolis were on AIM and there were a couple of other companies on AIM as well. And at first it had been great, great interest, lots of liquidity and then just everyone’s stock just died. There was just no liquidity, you were a slave to your share price, you were constantly just trying to pay payments back on huge loads, you had to do all the acquisitions and so you got into this cycle of reporting to the city, paying back the loans, share price not moving, not really having any cash in order to grow the companies and organic growth in the TV production sector in the UK isn’t easy and so growing by acquisition is kind of the natural way to go. We didn’t really have any cash to do that. We were already pretty highly leveraged and we were getting no liquidity on AIM, which is why we made the decision to de-list. And we could have either done that I suppose with VC backing, but we decided to go with a, I suppose, strategic trade buyer, Warner Bros. Because they were a creative business and actually one of the few studios who aren’t also a network. And so we saw them as a creative partner, a company who would understand the creative process and understand how that works, the risks and rewards, I suppose.
TJ: And it’s also the timelines, because my perception is always media companies going public, there’s just a huge misalignment and expectations in terms of timelines from the market and the realities of media production and the exploitation of IP. It takes always way longer than you anticipate. So an investor that doesn’t have that background, I think it’s very difficult for them to absorb … I think they might classify it as an excuse and say, “Ah, you’re just not working fast enough.” And you’re like, “No, this is how fast it is so you can’t force it.”
CH: Or understand where the value is, I suppose. When I got to Brave Bison, and I’m sure we’ll get onto that, but what was really important to me was for our shareholders to understand what we did. I was amazed when I did my first round of shareholder meetings how few of them really understood how we made our money and what the revenue streams were and that they were invested in something that they didn’t necessarily understand. So one of the things that was very important to me and that I prioritized was putting out information on our LinkedIn, doing interviews like this and putting them on LinkedIn so our shareholders would understand what we did and which parts of what we did had value and we’re going to move the dial. Communicating, when you’re on AIM, communicating with your shareholders is absolutely key.
TJ: So when you took the company private again, how did that process work? Was that, I’m guessing, an incredibly stressful period? Or was this more of, oh, we’re going to be free again and we have an investor or partner that understands it. What was the driving force I guess?
CH: I suppose there’s always a bit of an unknown, isn’t there? You’re going into business with someone that they don’t necessarily know you, you don’t necessarily know them but we looked upon this as a huge opportunity. We were going to be part of Time Warner, we were going to be sitting alongside HBO, Turner, CNN, Warner Bros. TV Production, Warner Bros. Film, Warner Bros. Animation, some of the biggest IP assets in the world.
TJ: A media knighthood.
CH: We used to walk around the studio, I remember walking round the studio of the lot one day with my boss at that time, Nick Southgate, just saying, “How did we end up here? This is amazing.” So it was hugely exciting and a relief to be off AIM really. It’s incredibly expensive to be listed on AIM, takes up a lot of your time when you want to be out winning business and driving the business, but you’re spending time on administrative time or on shareholder issues or on regulatory things. So it was, yes, felt exciting and a new chapter enabling us to invest in new production companies, to buy more companies, to invest more in particular genres that we wanted to invest in. And obviously we had a number of, the whole system or evolution of buying TV production companies is that you have principles of those companies, at some point they want to exit those businesses and so we had the principle of Wall to Wall, of Ricochet, of Shed Productions who were all going to exit the business at some point, so we needed to be planning for their succession for investment in those companies for them to exit the companies as well. So it solved a number of issues and was a whole new exciting chapter.
TJ: Yeah. Before we dive into kind of the next roles, one thing I always notice, and I guess it’s also a big discussion everywhere now, there’s still very few women in leadership positions in this industry, but also others, how did you experience that discrepancy and, I guess, how did you navigate it in your career?
“Part of the reason I left TV production in the end is because whether I was doing a deal with the BBC or with Netflix or Amazon, you’re arguing over the same things. These are all, sorry, not arguments, these are negotiations over rights and you might be talking about different pipes and different windows and different territorial breakdowns, but they are still basic rights negotiations and you’re weighing up risk and value. And I think ultimately those deals rely on weighing up risk and value. And it never seemed terribly complicated to me. What was more complicated is that everyone used different rights definitions, so every single broadcaster you dealt with used slightly different rights definitions from Nat Geo and Discovery and BBC, et cetera. There is no one single definition of what someone’s particular service offering is defined as. Whether they’re a cable operator or a streaming service, blah blah blah, so there’s no single set of definitions which would be helpful. But I suppose it’s just industry knowledge.”
CH: I think we’re quite lucky in TV production in the UK. I think there’s an issue in the UK in that lots of, or the majority of very senior creatives and executive producers tend to be men and I think that is because lots of … being a series producer is, which is part of the route to becoming an executive producer, is just a vicious business. It really is quite vicious and if you’ve got children you probably can’t do it. Because when you’re in production on something you are in production and you are working very, very long hours and you might be traveling, et cetera. So I think a lot of senior women creatives leave freelance careers and TV production at that point. Lots of women tend to go into the production management side of things which I think is a shame because it means fewer of them are on the creative side and then potentially that means that you’re not getting a balance of ideas coming through. But I was very, very lucky. Shed Productions was run by three women and a man, Princess Productions, who was my first company, was run 50% by Henrietta Conrad, so I’ve always had a lot of female leaders in companies that I’ve worked for. I have to say that when I went to Warner Bros. that was very different, it’s a very male-dominated company. The three presidents of Warner TV when I worked there were all men. The CEO of Warner Bros. was a man. In the UK there was only one woman at EVP level I think, who was a brilliant woman called Polly Cochrane who works in marketing. And so I found this a much more male-dominated company, but I think TV production in the UK generally is quite female-driven and so it wasn’t an issue. Very different in digital which, again, is a very male-dominated business. I think because … I guess because it is associated with tech in some way. So I noticed when I moved into the digital world that’s quite male-dominated as well.
TJ: Speaking of that, was that the next step after Warner Bros.?
CH: Yes, so we sold Shed to Warner Bros. at the end of 2010. We became fully acquired by Warner Bros. at the beginning of 2014. The CEO at the time, who was a guy called Nick Southgate, stepped down and myself and a guy called Nick Emmerson stepped up to become co-CEOs of Warner Bros. So they renamed Shed as Warner Bros. Television Production UK, rolls of the tongue, and Nick and I ran that group of production companies until midway through 2017 where we both stepped down. And the next role was Brave Bison.
TJ: And how did you get that gig? Or how did you go from TV, because you spent so much time in TV and then this was a digital business, how did that come about? Were you looking for a change or were you approached?
CH: A combination of the two, so I had been in TV production for 18, 19 years. We have achieved incredible things with Shed and we have sold it to a spectacular US studio. In working for Warner I had met a lot of incredibly talented, clever people. I’ve been exposed to the US studio system and started getting an understanding of that and the way business was done and the kind of deals. I could see the TV, the economics of TV production were changing. We had been through this incredibly fruitful period from 2004 to 2010 where it was all about the transferal of rights and value from broadcasters to independent TV production companies and everyone had sold their production company on the back of that value. We were now all part of highly aggregated merged businesses and the value chain was starting to move slightly. So there was a lot more work for hire happening, the Netflixs and Amazons of this world, they had come into the market. First of all, they came into the market paying big premiums in order to buy out rights. Then as they started commissioning factual productions, they weren’t paying those premiums. As they became very powerful buyers in the market and everyone wanted to work for them the prices they were paying were reducing. Their deals were looking less attractive. At the same time broadcasters had realized that there’d been this big transferal of rights from the terms of trade and so shows that were 100% funded were now 70% funded, 60% funded, scripted was 30% funded and even factual shows were only 60, 70% funded. So as a producer you were having to invest your margin or your future IP revenue into the production of the show and it didn’t look very rosy. As you will know because of the company you work for or own, there was a renewal of interest in scripted and scripted producers were cleaning up, but the scripted world is a very, very small world and there are about 10 scripted producers that are getting 80% of the work. There are about 20 writers who are getting 80% of the work and to me, the TV, the economics, I could see the business model was changing slightly and I couldn’t quite see where it was going or where I could be that would benefit from it. And so I didn’t really feel challenged anymore by my role. We weren’t necessarily actively involved in acquiring companies in the UK. The business of running a super indie is that they’re incredibly leaky vehicles. You have to keep filling them up at the top because the value keeps leaking out because so much of the value is about individuals and we weren’t acquiring companies, that wasn’t … our remit for Warner Bros. wasn’t to acquire companies and so we were targeted with organic growth and so I didn’t feel that my skills were necessarily best served in that role. I could also see that the world of content was changing. There is content, there are these incredible consumer brands that you can create and there are pipes through which you can distribute content. The pipes you use depends on the audience you want to reach and the business purpose you want to serve. Why are you distributing that content? And I felt that TV production, particularly in the UK, was quite backward about looking at those pipes agnostically. They were quite focused on, well, we’re producing TV content, TV content is premium and is the best and this digital thing is coming down the line but we’ll deal with it when we have to but we’re not that interested. And so I felt that I wanted to expand my horizons into something other than just TV production. I could also see the funding models were changing and where the money was coming from was different. You had companies like GroupM investing. Brands, media agencies investing in production. So I could see the landscape was changing. And so I thought about setting up my own vehicle, but as I said, I couldn’t quite see where the business model was going to end yet and I still can’t. I look at all these super indies and they start looking tiny next to the Googles and the Facebooks and the Apples and the Fox Disneys and then you think, well, I either start getting a merger of the super-indies in fact and then in five years time they’ll all start fragmenting again, you’ll go back to boutique operations. I can’t quite see at the moment and so for me Brave Bison was a combination of an entrepreneurial challenge, it was in turnaround mode, it was a company that had been in crisis, had a checkered history that needed to be turned around, so it was an entrepreneurial challenge, but it was an existing company, it was publicly listed, I’d never been a CEO of a publicly listed company, so that was also a challenge. And I could either turn it that … someone said to me you’re either, if you can turn it around you’re a genius and if you can’t, whatever. But ultimately I was able to turn it around, so that makes me a genius, right? Someone said so, so it must be true.
TJ: I hope you got that in writing.
CH: Exactly. You’ve put it in the podcast now, so it’s fact.
TJ: It’s a public record. Speaking of public record, how’s that changed? You just mentioned it from becoming a private citizen also of a public company, how did that change your life? Or the way you worked, the way you approach things, because obviously you need to be a lot more careful of what you say in public and so on. How did you experience that?
“I happen to run it and companies don’t come up with good ideas, people do, it’s about the people that run this company. I’m here to enable really good people to make a success of this company. I’m here as an enabler. And so yes, you’re right, it does weigh heavily on you, it can become quite personal, you have a lot of retail investors and there are all these little chat rooms where people talk about, investors are talking about shares and they refer to you very, very personally. Any kind of share price moves it’s Hungate’s done this or Hungate’s done that or you get your bonus, well Hungate’s pocketed this and it’s all on you. And when the share price goes up and you’re successful it’s like, we love Hungate. When it goes down it’s what’s she done? So it can become quite personal, so you’ve got to ensure that you are running the company in the best interests of the company, not worrying too much about the share price because you hope that eventually the share price will find a position that values the company according to the results that you are delivering.”
CH: You have an absolute responsibility to shareholders and that weighs on you very heavily. Going to see potential investors who are pension fund, you’re sitting there thinking, well people are investing their pension funds into a company that I’m running, that is a heavy responsibility. And I like to think that I have quite a strong moral compass and I always try to be transparent and honest in doing business. And when you’re running a public company that is an important consideration to you. And so you have to put always first the best interests of the company and the best interests of the shareholders. And as a CEO of a public company, it’s not like running your own startup where it’s about you, it was never about me. I think that’s difficult for some CEOs, but I think it’s partly because I’ve been a COO before and as a COO, you don’t take any glory for anything, you don’t have an ego, you just go and get stuff done. It’s not about you and your successes, you’re making stuff happen and you’re kind of in the background. And so when I stepped up to that CEO role, you do have to be a public figure, but it’s also, I kind of try to balance that with it is about me because it’s a public company and I need to be the face of that company, but actually it’s not about me.
TJ: I just happen to run this.
CH: I happen to run it and companies don’t come up with good ideas, people do, it’s about the people that run this company. I’m here to enable really good people to make a success of this company. I’m here as an enabler. And so yes, you’re right, it does weigh heavily on you, it can become quite personal, you have a lot of retail investors and there are all these little chat rooms where people talk about, investors are talking about shares and they refer to you very, very personally. Any kind of share price moves it’s Hungate’s done this or Hungate’s done that or you get your bonus, well Hungate’s pocketed this and it’s all on you. And when the share price goes up and you’re successful it’s like, we love Hungate. When it goes down it’s what’s she done? So it can become quite personal, so you’ve got to ensure that you are running the company in the best interests of the company, not worrying too much about the share price because you hope that eventually the share price will find a position that values the company according to the results that you are delivering.
TJ: So in those circumstances, how did you personally disconnect, wind down, relax? Because this is omnipresent in your life and I’m sure you read some comments about yourself where you’re like, oh my God, they don’t understand the first thing about, A, who I am and the company. How do you manage to not let that affect you when you leave the office? Do you have a recipe?
CH: But I never really let the personal comments affect me. It’s the same about management, everyone’s always looking for a target, aren’t they? One of the most difficult things you have to do as a manager is manage your staff. You can’t keep all the people happy all the time, you just have to accept that and believe that what you’re doing is right. I always said to people at the business I will … I think day one I stood up in front of staff and said I am absolutely someone who will take your views into consideration and I want you to help us develop the strategy for this company, but it’s not a cooperative and ultimately I’ll make decisions that you don’t like sometimes and that’s because this is where the buck stops. So I’ll absolutely take on board your opinions, but sometimes we won’t agree and I’ll have to make decisions and you can’t take any of that personally, you just have to understand that you can’t please all the people. But I go to the gym a lot and it might not show, but I love going to the gym. I have done for three or four years, it’s a bit of an obsession and so four or five times a week I go to the gym and that’s my relaxation. I have a couple of very small children who you met earlier and they will take my mind off work because that’s a 24 hour-
TJ: Yeah, I mean that’s a question as a father that I’m asking myself because it’s something that happens to me that I’ll play with my son and then I start thinking about something at work and I try almost a meditative exercise to not think of that. So I’m always wondering what other people do, what their recipe is in shifting the focus in those moments because that’s the time that matters.
CH: It’s, yes, it’s difficult. I try never to be on my mobile phone when I’m playing with the boys. And if I ever am they will actually start pulling it out of my hand or pulling my hand and trying to get me to do something, to play with them. But we’re pretty strict about when we’re with them we are present with them and we are playing with them. I would never sit at the dinner table and be on the phone, I would always try to keep away from the phone but it’s inevitable when you’re doing a job that will leak into your private life a little bit. But the boys are pretty compelling and pretty hard work, so sometimes there isn’t room for both things.
TJ: I think it’s always about making a conscious effort, regardless of what you’re doing. I mean you mentioned the gym, that’s the same there, you’re not going to have a great workout unless you are 100% there. You’re not going to have a good meeting with colleagues if you’re not 100% there. So yeah, I think that’s the only way really to make sure that you can deliver your best. So how would you say … would you want to do this again? Being the officer of a public company? Or you’re like, oh no, been there, done that, that’s nice, but I’ll work for a private equity funded company or a VC.
CH: Do you know what? I loved going out to shareholders. I loved going out and talking to shareholders. I think if you are passionate about what you do and you really believe in the product or the service that you are offering and that you have a vision for that company that you really believe in, then being on the front line in front of shareholders, whether they’re existing shareholders or potential new shareholders, is one of the most exciting things you can do and so I don’t have any particular objection to running a public company, in fact I quite liked it. I quite like that element of the business. I think running another AIM-listed company and doing another turnaround, maybe not. Again, unless it was something that I was so passionate about I could see … with Brave Bison I could kind of see what had gone wrong historically and I knew I could fix it, that was what was exciting to me about that, but yeah, I don’t think I have an issue with running a public company going forth. Although as we’ve discussed there are pressures, but as you well know, there are also pressures of having private funding or VCs on your back as well.
TJ: Yeah. So in all these years, and this might be more of a management question I guess, did you feel like there’s certain KPIs or developments in a company that people obsess with that you think are not as important to watch as something else that people might be not focusing on?
“The power of your network is so, it is the most important thing. We did an event on International Women’s Day for women within Brave Bison and that was the thing I was trying to get across to everyone. LinkedIn isn’t about getting a job, it’s about creating a network. I remember speaking to a headhunter a couple of years ago who said to me men are always in touch with me. Whether they’re looking for a job or not, they are always in touch with me. Women are only ever in touch with me if they’re looking for a job. And so what I would say to everyone and women particularly is don’t be scared about networking. Networking is a two-way thing. Someone will only network with you if they’re getting something out of it themselves and so if they don’t want to meet with your or have a coffee with you then they won’t respond to you, but don’t be scared about reaching out to people. Your network is where you are going to find most of your support and most of your opportunities in your career, particularly within media. And I don’t think I appreciated that early enough in my career.”
CH: There was a really interesting TED talk by a woman called Margaret Heffernan about this theory of the super chickens. It’s worth looking up and she talks about, it was a study that someone did where they put a bunch of super chickens together and then just a bunch of normal chickens and within a period of time the super chickens had pecked each other to death and they were all dead. And so she transfers that into the workplace to say that this idea of having some star performers, to have a very competitive atmosphere where you have some star performers that are vying for position isn’t healthy and actually it’s much more healthy to have a really high level of social networking and social cohesion, people collaborating and working together and that’s what creates success within companies. And I think there’s a lot to be said for that, so I always encouraged … one of the things that I worked a lot on at Brave Bison was ensuring that everyone understood the company’s strategy, everyone bought into the company’s strategy and everyone understood their place within that strategy and what they were trying to achieve. And understood what their colleagues were doing as well and therefore could contribute if they had some knowledge or they were working on a deal that kind of crossed, that they would work together and that they wouldn’t feel that they had to keep that deal to themselves because they were commissioned on it or something, but it was something that we could open up to more voices, more heads and potentially make into a bigger, more interesting deal. So yes, I’m not a big believer in creating the super chickens within a company, I’m a big believer in collaboration and cohesion and people talking to each other and working together.
CH: And the other thing that people always talk about is authentic leadership. And I think sometimes what’s really important for people to accept is that sometimes as CEO you don’t feel like being a leader and that you walk into the office every day and if you were being authentic, you would sit there and wouldn’t be very much fun for anyone to talk to and so sometimes as CEO you cannot be authentic, you have to walk into that room and you have to put on the face because you have to … you can’t sit there and say, well do you know what? Actually today, no, I’m feeling really down about the business or I’m feeling … that doesn’t work. You have got 80, 100 people staring at you and they are looking to be inspired and motivated by you and for you to come up with solutions. And so this idea of authentic leadership, although I believe in it from the point of view of being yourself, sometimes you have to act that role and that’s something that you learn. You don’t always feel like walking in and standing up in front of everyone and doing the ra-ra speech, but you have to do it.
TJ: Speaking of learning, if you had the chance to meet 20 year old Claire today, what would be some of the things you would tell her?
CH: Be much better at networking earlier on. The power of your network is so, it is the most important thing. We did an event on International Women’s Day for women within Brave Bison and that was the thing I was trying to get across to everyone. LinkedIn isn’t about getting a job, it’s about creating a network. I remember speaking to a headhunter a couple of years ago who said to me men are always in touch with me. Whether they’re looking for a job or not, they are always in touch with me. Women are only ever in touch with me if they’re looking for a job. And so what I would say to everyone and women particularly is don’t be scared about networking. Networking is a two-way thing. Someone will only network with you if they’re getting something out of it themselves and so if they don’t want to meet with your or have a coffee with you then they won’t respond to you, but don’t be scared about reaching out to people. Your network is where you are going to find most of your support and most of your opportunities in your career, particularly within media. And I don’t think I appreciated that early enough in my career. So I would say that to people from very early on, it’s what I always say to people who contact me and say they’re looking for a career in media. Get out there and meet people.
TJ: Yeah. Now obviously we spoke a lot about the past, so I want to talk to you about the future. What’s next for you?
CH: I’ve got a couple of passion projects that I’m looking at at the moment. I have a couple of advisory roles that I’m going to take up. Potential non-exec director positions, but I’m really, really open to what’s next actually. I’m in no particular hurry. As I said near the beginning of this, I will only do things now that I’m very, very passionate about, that I really believe in and that challenge me and excite me in some way. When I moved in from TV production to digital I was out of my comfort zone most of the time for the first six months or so. And that’s quite fun. It’s fun learning something new, it’s fun learning new business models, new clients, so I’m interested in learning new things and I’m interested in new challenges, but I also will only do something where I’m bringing value as well. And that’s always really important to me when I’m looking at non-exec director roles. I want to get something out of it, they want to get something out of it, there has to be a value exchange and they have to want me to be there as well.
TJ: So what are some of the things on your wishlist? If you could write them down they would come true 100%, is there something specific on there like another industry you’re interested in? Or you mentioned you need to be passionate about it, are there some things on your list already?
CH: There are, but I couldn’t possibly tell you.
TJ: Okay. Well I think that’s the perfect place to wrap it up. Thank you so much for your time.
CH: Thanks, it’s been really good fun. I appreciate it.
TJ: And thank you for all the insights and I’m looking forward to speaking to you next time about the future that we just talked about.
CH: Absolutely. Watch this space.
THANK YOU to this episode’s sponsor AXIOM Venture Capital!
If you like to get in touch with Claire directly you can connect with her on Linkedin at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/clairehungate/
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Transcription services by Rev.com
Special thanks to Zoe, JJ, and Jackson for helping to make this conversation happen.
Claire wishes to thank all her former bosses for great opportunities, responsibility, and guidance: Rikki Nath, Frank Mannion, Henrietta Conrad, Sebastian Scott, Alex Graham, Nick Southgate. Her mum and brothers Alex and Nick and, of course, Zoe, JJ, and Jackson.
Special thanks for their creative review go to Anouk van Ghemen, Frederik Jaeger, and Philipp Hoffmann.
For comments on the show or if you know of someone we should interview, please send us a message to email@example.com.
ABOUT MEDIA CFO
Media CFO focuses on the finance, strategy, business affairs, and legal side of the global media & entertainment industry. The guests on the podcast range from veteran studio executives to new, disruptive market entrants.
MEDIA CFO takes a look under the hood of the global entertainment industry and talks to the unsung heroes: dealmakers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, financiers, service providers, bankers, investors, and agents. The podcast offers unique insights into the daily work and life of those, who run and build this industry by visiting them on location and having in-depth, in-person conversations.
ABOUT TOBIAS JAEGER
Tobias started his first own firm during his studies at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and has lived, worked, visited, and studied in over 43 countries on 4 continents. Tobias loves to connect people from around the World to make great things happen. Previously, he has done so at Business Associates Europe, SAP AG, StrategosPoker, Aramark, and entrepreneur academy. Today he is a Managing Partner of AXIOM Venture Capital, a family office focussed on the media & entertainment industry and Tobias serves as the Chief Financial Officer of London-based television and content studio Colibri Studios.
The conversation was originally recorded in London in May 2019.
© 2019, Colibri Studios of London