Dow Jones Ventures President Sarnoff Talks Media and Career Strategy

April 28, 2009 sarnoff

Dow Jones Ventures President Ann Sarnoff returned to her alma mater on April 2 to talk to Georgetown University McDonough School of Business students about the media industry and her career and personal leadership philosophy.

After graduating with a marketing degree from Georgetown University, Sarnoff worked as a consultant before pursuing her passion for the media and entertainment industry. "I did some soul searching and realized that I had always been interested in music," she said. "On a personal level, it was a great renaissance to go to Viacom after my consulting career, where I operated purely from my left brain."

Sarnoff, who characterized her career strategy as one of "doing things on the fly and figuring things out," has held executive strategy, finance, and development positions at Viacom, Nickelodeon, VH1, Country Music Television, and the Womens' National Basketball League before being appointed to head Dow Jones Ventures in 2006.

She detailed some of her biggest career coups such as the launch of the Rugrats franchise and the revitalization of Country Music Television. She advised students on how to reconcile the creative aspects of business with more financial considerations. She also encouraged them to be open to new opportunities and to never be averse to risk.

According to Sarnoff, the best leaders are good communicators and have a good mix of creative and analytical skills. But for Sarnoff the secret to successful leadership is passion. "You can inspire people by being passionate about your job and approaching matters with high energy," she said. "So find something that you really love to do, something that evokes passion in you, and pursue it."