Warner Bros Discovery International Head Honcho Gerhard Zeiler has set his leadership team, with big promotions for the likes of Priya Dogra and Anil Jhingan.
In a note sent to staff in the last hour, seen by Deadline, Zeiler outlined the 10 people who will oversee various regions and responsibilities as the newly combined entity’s international offering takes shape.
“Our combined international business has significant scale, and a diversified portfolio – both geographically and across lines of business,” said Zeiler.
“As a result, when deciding the new leadership structure, we wanted to ensure that we had dedicated regional leads, to reflect the scale and complexity of the business which would, in turn, increase focus on key markets.”
As predicted by Deadline’s analysis last week, London-based Dogra takes on a President and Managing Director EMEA role (excluding Poland). Having done similar for Warner Media she will now oversee the company’s combined significant footprint across the region, according to Zeiler. She will be responsible for integrating and operating the Discovery and WM International organizations across the region.
The other big winner from the restructure is Anil Jhingan, who moves from Discovery Asia Pacific President and MD to overseeing business development across all international markets as part of Discovery’s Chief Development, Distribution & Legal Officer Bruce Campbell’s reorganization.
Dogra will take over Nordics and UK boss James Gibbons’ responsibilities following an interim period and Gibbons moves to head up Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Kasia Kieli, who was previously President and MD, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, becomes President & Managing Director, Poland and CEO of Polish Discovery channel TVN, which is something of a demotion.
The sole departure at this point is LatAm boss Whit Richardson, who is replaced in that region by Fernando Medin. Medin has been appointed President & Managing Director, Latin America & US Hispanic and will continue to be based in São Paulo.
Elsewhere, Clement Schwebig takes over South East Asia, Korea and India, Gillian Zhao becomes China WM President and Andrew Georgiou continues as President & Managing Director, WBD Sports Europe, overseeing the likes of Eurosport and the golf portfolio.
Robert Blair is still leading licensing and Ronald Goes remains EVP and Head of International TV Production leading the International WB Production business.
“I have every confidence in this group of leaders,” added Zeiler. “I have no doubt that individually and collectively, they will help us achieve our ambition as the best and most dynamic media company in the world, working collaboratively and closely across WBD’s divisions including with our colleagues in the U.S.
Zeiler’s note in full
In the note JB [Perette] and I sent last week, we promised to move thoughtfully but expediently. Following several conversations with senior leaders across both WarnerMedia and Discovery’s international businesses, I am pleased to confirm the leadership team for Warner Bros. Discovery’s international operations reporting to me.
Our combined international business has significant scale, and a diversified portfolio – both geographically and across lines of business. As a result, when deciding the new leadership structure, we wanted to ensure that we had dedicated regional leads, to reflect the scale and complexity of the business which would, in turn, increase focus on key markets. This results in a different geographical split to the pre-merger state which will also allow each of the regional leaders to more rapidly assess opportunities for growth and efficiency and to integrate the two companies quickly.
Before we go into the individuals who will make up my leadership team, I’d like to say a word or two about the process. These were extremely difficult decisions. Each of WM and Discovery should be proud of the leaders they’ve developed over the years. As JB and I committed in our original note to you all, our decisions are the result of a thought-through process which included ensuring that the leadership team reflected the breadth of experience and talent across the two businesses. None of these decisions were easy or taken lightly.
And difficult decisions often have difficult outcomes. So, I am incredibly sad to be losing Whit Richardson from the International leadership team. I am not one for exaggeration as many of you know but Whit’s impact on our Latin America business has been nothing short of exceptional, his contribution over the past couple of decades invaluable. He has guided the business through several organisational changes proving himself an inspirational, empathetic and strategic leader. Most importantly he built diverse, collaborative and unified teams at each step. Among other achievements, Whit has been integral in building the Turner business in Argentina and the integration of the Claxson group of channels. He also pioneered our sports strategy in the region and over the course of his tenure, nearly tripled our profit in Latin America. More recently, he managed the integration of the HBO and then the Warner Bros. business in the region into one WarnerMedia organisation in Latin America. Last but not least, he played an integral role in the successful launch of HBO Max in the region, working closely with our colleagues in the DTC organisation. I couldn’t have asked more of him. Whit has graciously agreed to stay with us for a period of transition; more details will be forthcoming. His help in bringing our two businesses together will be essential.
Separately, I am pleased to share that Anil Jhingan, currently President & MD for Discovery Asia Pacific, will be taking up a new position leading business development for the enlarged WBD group across all of our international markets, as part of Bruce Campbell’s organisation. We are very grateful to Anil for his leadership in successfully driving the APAC business forward and congratulate him on his appointment. I look forward to continuing to partner with Anil in his new role.
With that, let me introduce you to the new leadership team for WBD International:
Priya Dogra is appointed President & Managing Director, EMEA (ex. Poland) overseeing the company’s combined, significant footprint across the region. Continuing to be based in London, Priya will be responsible for integrating and operating the Discovery and WM International orgs across the region.
James Gibbons is appointed President & Managing Director, Australia, New Zealand & Japan reporting to me. He will also continue to manage the Nordics region for an interim period of time for which he will report to Priya and will transition the leadership of Discovery UK & Ireland to Priya who will oversee them directly in the interim. He will remain based in London in 2022 and plans to move back to Asia early 2023. James has been with Discovery since 1999 and had multiple roles across Europe and Asia most recently leading the UK and Nordic businesses.
Kasia Kieli is appointed President & Managing Director, Poland and CEO of TVN. In this role, Kasia brings a wealth of experience about the dynamics of the Polish media sector. Nobody could be better equipped to grow our substantial assets in Poland and defend the leading position of the WBD-TVN group of channels in the country.
Fernando Medin is appointed President & Managing Director, Latin America & US Hispanic. He will remain based in São Paulo and will take responsibility for the significant combined business in the region which includes key sports rights and a strong portfolio of channels.
Clement Schwebig is appointed President & Managing Director, South-East Asia (SEA), Korea and India. Clement will continue to be based in Singapore where he has been running the newly integrated WarnerMedia business operations since 2020.
Gillian Zhao, President, China WM will continue to report to me in her current function. Gillian has been in her role since 2016 and has successfully broadened and strengthened our business in that time period.
Tony Qiu, who currently is GM, SVP for Greater China & SEA and APAC DTC lead for the Discovery assets will report to me regarding his Greater China and DTC role and to Clement Schwebig for his SEA responsibilities.
Andrew Georgiou continues as President & Managing Director, WBD Sports Europe based in London leading the Sports business, retaining his current portfolio which includes Eurosport, PlaySports Group (incl. Global Cycling Network), Golf portfolio (PGA Tour, GOLFTV and Golf Digest) and the Sports Events Business.
Robert Blair continues to lead our significant licensing business as President, WBD International Television Distribution, working together and being jointly responsible with each of the regional Presidents for the licensing of all our TV and film content.
Ronald Goes continues as EVP and Head of International TV Production leading the International WB Production business.
I have every confidence in this group of leaders. I have no doubt that individually and collectively, they will help us achieve our ambition as the best and most dynamic media company in the world, working collaboratively and closely across WBD’s divisions including with our colleagues in the U.S. They will each be in touch with their respective organisations in the coming days, but meanwhile, please join me in congratulating them on their roles.
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