Category: GEMA, GEMA Alumni Spotlight

Title:GEMA Alumni Spotlight – Emily Powers (C’01), Head of BritBox North America

Emily Powers (C ’01) is Head of BritBox North America and responsible for leading one of the fastest growing streaming subscription video businesses in the US and Canada. She drives the business strategy and spearheads a team that is responsible for the end-to-end business operations including developing the editorial strategy, acquiring content, customer acquisition, customer retention, marketing creative, and all commercial and distribution relationships. She is also an intricate part of the global BritBox team and oversees much of the business operations for other BritBox territories including Australia, South Africa, and the impending launch in the Nordics.

What was your first “big break”? Or, what is the most significant experience you have had that has made your success possible?

While I was at Georgetown I secured an internship at National Geographic Television through a connection from a professor. It was an internship that eventually became a job after graduation and ultimately a catalyst for my career in media. However, it’s never the job alone that creates the success story, it’s really about the people I met along the way who supported me and championed me. At National Geographic I met an incredible group of women who mentored me and whom I still call dear friends 20 years later.

What is the most challenging part of your job? What is the most rewarding part?

Today I run BritBox in North America, which is a subscription streaming service that has over 2 million subscribers and offers the best of British entertainment including mysteries, dramas, comedies, lifestyle and more. I was one of the original team members who wrote the business plan and sought funding and approval from the BBC parent company. At the time I had an MBA and experience working in media strategy and business development but I had never run a business, so the most challenging but most rewarding experience has been becoming an operator and turning a concept on paper into a successful and growing business. Aside from seeing the continued growth, it’s also endlessly rewarding to be part of the engine that creates amazing content from commissioning a show through development and launch.

What is something current you are working on that you are excited about?

BritBox is launching a show in April called Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, which is a passion project for many of us on the team. It is a Hugh Laurie adaptation of an Agatha Christie classic and has a wit and charm that only Hugh can bring to the screen. It stars Lucy Boynton and Will Poulter, two rising stars who bring the story to life. It was not a difficult decision to invest in the show since BritBox already has the largest collection of Agatha Christie classics and this modern adaptation will allow us to extend her legacy to the next generation of fans. It is the company’s biggest single investment into content and the team has done an amazing job shepherding the show through development and production and ultimately executing a launch plan that does the show justice. Look out for our TV, digital and radio ads, and if you are in NYC keep an eye out for our ads on taxis, in Times Square and in Lyft cars! It has been my distinct pleasure of working with the talent and our team on building and launching this show.

Are there any ways that you feel Georgetown especially prepared you for your career?

Georgetown was always very supportive of students finding local internships that could supplement the classroom education. I took advantage of this and worked at a few museums and at National Geographic, which ultimately gave me real-world experiences in thriving creative communities.

What is your best advice to those who are starting out in your field?

I don’t believe it’s always possible or practical to “follow your passion” so I have found that the best approach to a career is to find a job that’s interesting, challenging, pushes you beyond your comfort zone, and that allows you to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.

How is the ever-changing media landscape affecting your industry?

There has been an incredible amount of M&A activity in the media industry in the past several years which has created even bigger conglomerates who have all been racing to enter the streaming world. The onslaught of competition might be a challenge for some services but it has only helped us shape our proposition and become more distinct from the masses. Our unique selling proposition is that we are the only destination focused on the best of British content since it is in our DNA thanks to our parent companies: BBC and ITV. Other services may dabble in British TV but BritBox will always remain the subject matter experts.

Best Business Advice Received:

Especially early in your career, it’s better to take a risk and fail than to not take the risk at all.

Trait You Most Admire in People:

Stoicism. I admire people who are able to remain calm and composed in times of stress and conflict in both their personal and professional lives.

Favorite App, Website, Podcast or Social Platform (other than related to your own company):

I religiously listen to the Pivot podcast 2xs/week. It’s hosted by Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway (one of my former NYU Stern professors), who have a unique and entertaining banter while providing unique insights into business, tech, and politics.

Favorite Georgetown Restaurant or Bar:

That’s really a toss-up between Champs, where I have endless fun memories with friends, and Chadwicks, the very romantic bar where I met my husband.

Favorite Georgetown Memory:

I studied abroad in Melbourne Australia and will never forget how it was the perfect mix of adventure, education, friendship and pure fun.