Category: GEMA, GEMA Alumni Spotlight

Title:GEMA Alumni Spotlight – Palash Ahmed (MBA‘09), Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Sony Pictures

Palash Ahmed (MBA ‘09) is involved in a mix of corporate strategy, corporate development, and venture capital, covering motion pictures, television, media networks, and digital.

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

I would say my non-traditional career path was the biggest contributor to whatever success I’ve had to date. Prior to my current role at SPE, I was a creative artist, an entrepreneur, and a management consultant.

As a creative, I produced over 30 records and toured the world, and was supported by a team, manager, agents, and publicist. This experience helped me understand the talent’s perspective and how they interact with their team. I also owned a record label, where I learned how to sign artists, and license, market and distribute media products. I also experienced firsthand the digital disruption from Napster.

After Napster, I painfully realized the value of experiential businesses, and launched 2 nightclubs, 2 lounges, and a restaurant. That experience taught me how to think about a business holistically and develop and execute strategies. I also learned how to work with talent agencies as a buyer.

After my MBA from Georgetown, I joined The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as a management consultant, spending 3 years with Southeast Asia and 3 years in the US. This experience taught me how large corporations operate and make decisions, and how that differed in Asia, Europe and North America.

As fate would have it, I ended up in Media and Entertainment where all of my non -traditional experiences helped me better understand the industry.

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

The most rewarding part of my job is my wide scope. I get to analyze all parts of the film and TV business and learn from stakeholders with deep industry experience.

A challenging part of my job is managing stakeholders, which is critical to move a project from start to finish. You must engage, inform, and obtain buy-in from stakeholders with various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.

What is a current project you are working on that you are excited about?

Outside of my transaction and strategy work, a project I’m fond of is engaging the startup community on behalf of SPE. I am looking for new technologies and innovation that can enhance our businesses. As a former entrepreneur, I enjoy debating the future of media and entertainment and learning about new products and services that can support that journey.

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

The Georgetown MBA program had a focus on international business, including two international residencies, in China and Dubai. That experience was invaluable because soon after graduation, I joined BCG and worked with clients all over the world. In fact, my second client at BCG was the same company I supported during my international residency in Dubai.

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

Understand what the end consumer wants and then work backwards to figure out how each segment of the value chain can support that need. You should also be proactive, look for opportunities and obstacles that need to be addressed before anyone asks.

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

How much time do we have? In short, traditional studios are valued on profitability while new digital platforms are valued on subscriber growth. Digital platforms can raise large sums of capital to build out their direct-to-consumer businesses with very low subscription fees. They can also use that capital to outbid traditional studios for talent and material. Traditional studios face a strategic dilemma, either build a direct-to-consumer offering, which is very expensive, or become a supplier to the established direct-to-consumer platforms. As the digital platforms become larger, the negotiating power shifts away from suppliers.

Best Business Advice Received:

There will always be highs and lows in your career. Don’t let the highs make you arrogant and don’t let the lows bring you down, neither one lasts forever. Trait You Most Admire in People: Curiosity

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

The Variety podcast – Strictly Business

Favorite Georgetown Professor:

Paul Almeida

Favorite Georgetown Restaurant or Bar:

Café Milano

Favorite Georgetown Memory:

A group of us from the program traveled across China after completing our residency in Hong Kong. It was around the time of the China Olympics so there was lots of excitement. It was a great bonding experience, and we’re all still in touch today.