The Career Refresh with Jill Griffin

From A&E Networks to BBC Studios: Sarah Shriver's Lessons in Career Transition

January 23, 2024 Jill Griffin, Sarah Shriver Season 6 Episode 153
The Career Refresh with Jill Griffin
From A&E Networks to BBC Studios: Sarah Shriver's Lessons in Career Transition
The Career Refresh with Jill Griffin +
Become a supporter of the show!
Starting at $3/month
Support
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

With over two decades of experience, Sarah Shriver is the VP of Programming and Marketing for FAST Channels and VOD Sales at BBC Studios. Her previous roles include positions at A+E. Sarah is also an urban BeeKeeper and co-owner of Gowanus Apiary. In this episode, we discuss: 

  • Career transition
  • Strategies for integrating into new roles
  • Essential skills for successful sales executives
  • The balancing act of urban beekeeping in her life


Show Guest
As the VP of Programming and Marketing for FAST Channels and VOD Sales at BBC Studios, Sarah Shriver focuses on expanding monetization opportunities and BBC Studios' programming presence across various platforms. With 20+ years of experience, Sarah previously held roles at A+E, overseeing digital content sales and ad sales, and driving growth strategies for A+E's digital portfolio. She also has a background in digital media sales, having worked with iVillage/NBCUniversal and represented niche print publishers. Sarah is an active CHIEF and Women in Cable Television (WICT) member and resides in Brooklyn with her family, including her dog and multiple beehives.

Sarah's an Urban Bee Keeper. Learn more at Gowanus Apiary
Follow Sarah on LinkedIn

Support the show

Jill Griffin is committed to making workplaces more successful for everyone through leadership training and development, team dynamics workshops, and employee well-being programs. Her executive coaching, workshop facilitation, and innovative thinking have driven multi-million-dollar revenues for top agencies, startups, and renowned brands. Collaborating with individuals, teams, and organizations, Jill fosters high-performance and inclusive cultures while facilitating organizational growth.

Visit JillGriffinCoaching.com for more details on:

  • Book a 1:1 Career Strategy and Executive Coaching HERE
  • Gallup CliftonStrengths Corporate Workshops to build a strengths-based culture
  • Team Dynamics training to increase retention, communication, goal setting, and effective decision-making
  • Keynote Speaking
  • Grab a personal Resume Refresh with Jill Griffin HERE

Follow @JillGriffinOffical on Instagram for daily inspiration
Connect with and follow Jill on LinkedIn

Speaker 1:

Hi, this is Jill Griffin and you're listening to the Career Refresh this week. I'm introducing you to Sarah Shriver. She is the VP of Programming and Marketing for the fast channels and VOD sales at the BBC Studios. Sarah focuses on expanding the monetization of the various opportunities at the BBC Studios and works on its programming presence across various platforms. She has over 20 years experience holding roles at A&E which is also Lifetime and the History Channel and overseeing digital sales content and ad sales.

Speaker 1:

Sarah also has a background in digital media sales, having worked for iVillage, nbc Universal, and another interesting fact about Sarah is that she and her husband are urban beekeepers. They have hives on the roof of their Brooklyn New York home. The name of the company that they own is called Gowanus Apry. I will put that in the show notes, but you may be familiar with the famous Carol Gardens Honey that they sell. It's made local in Brooklyn, and in this episode we talk not only about the experience of working with a beloved company for many years and then eventually deciding to make a change when she went from A&E to BBC Studios, but then also, after you've worked for a place for a long time, when you're new and what that feels like and some of the things that she learned along the way as making that switch after, again, many years of success at A&E. And then we also talk about how running a business or having a hobby outside of your work that has nothing to do with your day job, how it kind of keeps things in perspective and helps you be all around better and more well balanced in what you're doing during the day.

Speaker 1:

So, friends, if you have questions, email me at hello at jillgriffincoachingcom, dig in, listen to Sarah. She's such a respected voice in our industry and I know you're going to find this episode a treat. So dig in and I will see you next time. Hi, sarah, I'm glad that we're doing this today. So great to be here. Jill, thank you. All right, let's get to it. So the first question, as you know that I ask everybody is tell us what you wanted to be when you grew up.

Speaker 2:

I wanted to be in the Foreign Service.

Speaker 1:

Amazing. Tell us a little bit more what happened post college.

Speaker 2:

I thought it would be incredibly glamorous. I wanted to travel. I love the idea of immersing myself in other cultures. Went to school at the University of South Carolina, coming from the New York area, grew up in New Jersey and was a government and international studies major. I came back to New York to have a break before graduate school or the Foreign Service exam, and my break turned into a lifelong career in media.

Speaker 1:

Funny how things happen like that. Funny how things happen so, and that's where I want to go deeper with you. You know, one of the things that I think has been really amazing about your career experience is that you've spent so many years at one company and had a very long tenure and then made decisions to move on to the next experience. So I'd love for you to kind of take us through, like, after working in a job and having many roles at A&E Networks for a while, what motivated you to look to find something else?

Speaker 2:

So, you know, at A&E, as you said, I had many roles. I really had three different jobs while I was there and those jobs were very much burgeoning businesses. I, with an incredible team of people, I helped to build businesses within this you know decades old television company. So, once you know, once a business is built as an entrepreneur, as you know, you move on, and the Global Content Sales Group was small when I joined. I'd come from Ad Sales. We had, you know, created this really fun, inspiring role for me there and we launched Fast Channels. At the very beginning we did all kinds of you know, new initiatives to help build what became an incredible, built, growing, fastest growing business for A&E Networks. And then I started looking elsewhere. I think you know there's other work to be done. It was time for me to push myself a little bit. A lot of it was about, you know, sort of testing my boundaries and not being too comfortable. You know I don't love the cliche being comfortably uncomfortable or being uncomfortable, however you say it. It was time.

Speaker 2:

I was trying to think of something different.

Speaker 1:

How did you approach that search Like? What was the discernment looking like for you to make that next decision?

Speaker 2:

I was really trying to figure out sort of and I don't want to say at my age, but sort of where I am in my career and what to do next and a lot of it. I don't know I was starting. I feel like I moved backwards a little bit in the beginning. I went back to looking at roles within advertising, sales and ad tech, and those were things that felt very comfortable to me, although I hadn't been in ad sales for three or four years. I am a salesperson and I truly believe as a salesperson I can sell anything, but I was looking for something new and different.

Speaker 2:

I spoke to a person in the industry that I really treasure very much and he had said to me years and years ago do something that nobody else is doing. If you're super smart, you can figure out how to get something sold. But figure out an industry that no one else is doing at the time, believe it or not. That was podcasting, and I was talking to people very early on in the podcasting world while I was still at A&E. That didn't flush out very much, but it was fun. I always found it to be fun to talk to and network with people to see what they were doing and see, could I do that? Is there some kind of fit there?

Speaker 1:

for me. So what I hear and for our listeners, what I hear is saying is that you were following your curiosity. You were networking, not necessarily to be like do you have a job for me, but you were networking to kind of understand, almost informationally, what their experience is like, what they do in their role, and you're sort of collecting all of these different conversations you're having and helping you make your own decisions, to sort of whittle out what does work and where you might want to go next, exactly right.

Speaker 2:

There is nothing more valuable than a network, and, whether it's people you know directly or people who know people that can introduce you especially. I feel like if you're at a company for a very long time and it's very scary to go back out there, it makes it a much safer environment to have a coffee or have a Zoom or a quick conversation with somebody that's familiar or somebody that knows somebody, and I also feel like people are more than happy to extend their network.

Speaker 1:

I found the same, because we all need it someday, right, so you do it now and then at some point you're not going to need to tap into it too. So, when you think about that transition, what do you think were some of the biggest challenges that you faced, going from one organization 13 plus years to a new organization, but not a new company? I mean, bbc is long and tenured and very prestigious, so what were some of the initial challenges or obstacles in making those changes that you worked through?

Speaker 2:

Remember the first day on the school bus. It's very, very similar and you know me very well. It's all about friends, being personal and making connections and it's scary man. It's super, super scary going in some place, and it's probably just a scary going in some place, whether it's been 13 years or whatever.

Speaker 2:

But I haven't been on a school bus in decades and I still remember that feeling walking in the door and you have to really trust your gut right Like I decided to join this company. That's an incredibly warm, welcoming, hundred-year-old brand of amazing content. So that is sort of the one side that makes you feel confident you can do this. I trusted the reputation of the folks that I was working with and for and there's also the adrenaline and the energy that sort of gets you through that you're going to make this happen and there's no reason why it's not going to happen and I know what I'm doing. It's just how do you, as a chameleon, how do you change it for the right environment and how do you get to know that environment? But it was a huge adjustment. It continues to be a huge adjustment. I'm still meeting many, many colleagues that I haven't met before or met yet.

Speaker 1:

And I would also imagine that the timing too right. So we were also coming off of COVID where we were. Some of us were back in the office some days, but it wasn't like the full five days a week. So now also you're starting a new role and people aren't all in the office, right, some you know it's probably a hybrid environment again too, so you're also meeting in a new way. That's very different from the environment you came from.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and so there were seven of us that were new that started like within a few months. So it's not only us getting to know our new colleagues and everybody getting their footing, but it's also adjusting to the amazing people that were there that started to build the business and making sure that everybody feels like a team and not just sort of these people that are just coming in to change everything. The office environment there is amazing and we don't have a mandatory day, but we ask that everybody is in at least one day a week, which is Wednesdays, and that makes all the difference in the world. Like, and the office is very vibrant. I go in two or three days a week. Now we don't have offices, we have like workstations and we're back to that feeling of like hallway conversations and grab you for something and there's nothing like it, Like it's just it's a bummer when you can't get a conference room and you need one, but Right, it's like.

Speaker 1:

it's like. It's like hold on, it keeps your thinking sharp. It keeps your thinking sharp, it keeps your networking. It helps you see things much more dimensionally, versus just if we're always just having conversations on video or on teams, right, Then we're only having a two-way conversation versus the dimensional conversation. Yeah, I totally see why that would be such a difference in how your days are.

Speaker 2:

And I just it just helps, you know with, I don't know, with people that are sort of coming up in the industry too, and younger people that have started, you know, graduated during COVID and never gone to an office before and all those things that you know, those conversations that are new and different, for them to start building their experience level.

Speaker 1:

When I, when I asked you what was harder than you thought in this process, you said you know, first day of school. But was? Is there anything else besides that initial newness that was harder than you thought? Making a transition from one company to another?

Speaker 2:

It's just it's, it's it's knowing the product right. So and that's very specific, I think, to what I do and I, you know, I sell content. I sell a hundred years of BBC content. Prior to that, I sold A&E lifetime and history content. I, you know, because I grew up at A&E, I knew the content and that's like my biggest learning curve, which everybody tells me it'll come to me, but it's, it's, it's systems, it's, you know, it's silly things, but it's, I think, you know, people, people are people. That's not the hardest part, it's, it's it's getting the machine rolling and organizing and getting systems together. And part I guess some of it too is finding your people and finding you know your peers and it. I need to keep going back to it, but it is sort of very much like high school.

Speaker 1:

I can see that. I can see that. I can see that. What didn't you like more than you thought you would?

Speaker 2:

Going into the office and, um, just the camaraderie and the, it's like a thinking, it's like a think tank. You know we are very, very meetings, heavy culture, but the vibrancy that happens on some of these meetings and the ideas that are thrown out, and we have an incredible leader who presses us to come together with ideas and strategies and you see that bubbling and that's super exciting. Right, it's all new. There is an excitement in the air, for sure.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I know that you're not necessarily hiring, so I don't mean it specific to your organization, but organizations like yours that are 100 year old, brand that's built on credentials, respect, prestige. What tips would you give listeners who are looking for opportunities right now, like what are the qualities, the attitudes, the attributes that we're looking for in candidates? Oh, interesting.

Speaker 2:

I really, you know, it's how do you, it's working smart, it's working with a team, it's being able to collaborate, and being able to collaborate and make decisions, not just because it's something you're told to do, but decisions that are based on data and decisions that are based on research and relationships. It's all about. You know, we are, I am, I've always been involved in sales organizations and all you got is your relationships and whether it's networking or whatever, so client relationships, and you don't have to come in with client relationships, but you have to know how to build them and how to be respectful and understand. You know, think about it. Your clients are people, obviously, and people that have not just us but 20 million other people going after them for the same thing and trying to get them to buy something just, and you don't know what's going on in their lives. So it's the grace and the grace to sort of know how to be a good salesperson.

Speaker 1:

So, when you think about how you start your day right, you are working across many time zones. You have, you know, a large, we'll say book, a business in front of you that you're going through. There has to be tools or some routines that you've established for yourself to help you stay, you know, strategic, attentive, connected. What are some of those morning routines or those ways that you start the day that you would share with others that have worked for you?

Speaker 2:

Well, I have, I'll start sort of backwards, you might just watch that, but I always end the day with my to-do list for the next day.

Speaker 2:

That was something again somebody told me to do many, many years ago and it incredibly helps me to be focused for the next morning.

Speaker 2:

So as soon as I start, I know what I'm doing. You know I, because I am working through multiple time zones, I prioritize those in the UK and in EMEA. Before my responses, before I do, obviously, la, it's really being focused on what you need to accomplish every day by the end of the week and have real targets for yourself that are achievable. You know there are just not enough minutes in the day or hours in the day to be able to complete everything, and I think I mentioned we're super meetings, heavy culture, but there are things we have to make goals and meet our goals and exceed our goals. So it's really just staying as organized as possible. We have, you know, team meetings. We have strategy meetings twice a week to make sure everybody's on track on what has to be done, and I think those are crucial too, and I try and be as available as possible to my team to answer questions and keep things moving along.

Speaker 1:

What time and day do you do your best work?

Speaker 2:

I'm like a late morning person, like I get started very early in the morning, but I like now like I get my groove and I start pounding out emails I also.

Speaker 2:

It's very interesting I get I've noticed recently to all the multitasking that's going on, because probably because we're in meetings all the time, right, and people are sitting on zooms but they're staring at the screen typing, so they're obviously doing meetings and I try really hard not to do that because it's really hard for me to stay focused. I'm a big note taker and I have notebooks and notebooks. I try to not be doing more than one thing at a time. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but I have to sort of push myself back to stay attentive.

Speaker 1:

So I know this and I know it's an interest and a business of yours Tell our audience about the bees, Because I think that's one of the things that keeps from the conversations you and I have had over the years. It's one of the things that keeps you very fresh because you do something so different than what you've done Good chunk of your week doing. You know, at BBC you also have the bees Tell them.

Speaker 2:

My husband and I are beekeepers. In our urban beekeepers in Brooklyn, New York we have anywhere between four and six hives on the roof of our house. We also maintain hives in my wonderful in-laws house in Westchester County, New York. But we have a pretty decent bee honey business. It's called the Juannis AP Aries and our honey we call them again what it's called Juannis AP Aries.

Speaker 1:

Juannis AP Aries. We're going to put that in a show notes people.

Speaker 2:

And our honey is called Carol Gardens Honey. We actually have a new line of honey just waiting for the labels to arrive. So if you live in the Northeast you're probably very familiar with the red lantern flies, and red lantern flies have excrete. That's kind of icky, but they excrete this honeydew on the plants which the bees love, and it makes the honey a little bit smoky and red.

Speaker 1:

Oh, so is this the silver lining of the red lantern flies.

Speaker 2:

It really is right and they are beautiful. They're just incredibly invasive, especially if you have grapes, but so we didn't really want to put it under our Carol Gardens Honey labels. But there seems to be interest from a lot of our retailers in selling it, and we have a ton of it. So we are going to be distributing red what are we calling it Brooklyn red honey and we've been doing it for about 13 years, sell it at local Brooklyn retailers, do a ton of mail order across the country, which is pretty amazing, and we have people show up outside our house when there's a lot of pollen in the air with their spring and fall allergies and say is this a honey store.

Speaker 2:

Can I have some honey?

Speaker 1:

I feel like this is my home, but here's my website.

Speaker 2:

Now, hold on, I'll tie up the dog and go get your jar of honey, but it's a wonderful way to sort of chill out. Sit on the roof of our house, watch the bees schlep stuff up and down the back of the house with a crane that we have, but it's fun.

Speaker 1:

I mean, again, it's just an amazing New York story that I love that. So then, the last question for you would be how does hanging with the bees and chilling with the bees make you better at your day job?

Speaker 2:

You get to see the big picture that there is an end to the day job and there's a life after the day job and you have to have to have something else to do in your life.

Speaker 1:

I think that's a perfect place to end it right being able to have something else. We can love our work, and we can also do other things outside of our day jobs too, so that's wonderful, sarah, thank you so much for being here, as always. If anyone has any questions, you can send them to hello at jilgrefancochingcom. We'll get them to Sarah. We'll get them back to you, all the things. So thank you so much for listening and we'll see you next time.

Transitioning Careers and Finding Balance
Morning Routines and Beekeeping