In 1998, I was an EVP at News Corp., focused on rationalizing the global media company’s assets in light of the digital tsunami that threatened our core business.
After starting my career in TV, I joined News Corp’s film division in 1986, working in television production and syndication. In that era TV was the studio’s cash cow, and a boy’s club, where big salaries and expense accounts meant a lot of business was done on the golf course. I appreciated the opportunities that TV afforded me, but I really wanted to “invent the future.” The company agreed and gave me the bandwidth to explore our relationship with web and digital, and to ultimately turn it into a division and focus for the company.
We built the requisite cool, loft space in midtown Manhattan, and we were recruiting like crazy. The candidates were young , eager, whip smart and equally split between men and women; not something I had seen in my TV days. We decided to hire a great young by the name of Sandi Drucker.
A year out of college, Sandi was the kind of employee we immediately knew had the skills, smarts and moxie to really move our business. I enjoyed and sought out her point of view on the direction of media and listened closely to how she and her peers viewed media brands. Her poise with senior executives made her a potent ally both internally and externally, and we developed an excellent rhythm of working together as we evangelized the opportunity that the web provided for our nervous analog colleagues.
After working together for about six months, Sandi asked for a meeting. We went to lunch, and Sandi asked if I would be her mentor. Mentoring isn’t a term of art in Hollywood’s “thirty mile zone,” especially in 1998. I wasn’t really sure what Sandi meant, but she explained that it would really be an extension of the working relationship we’d already established, and she thought she could learn more about deal making, digital, and her career, if we met regularly.
Mentoring Sandi was cathartic for me, and she told me it was helpful for her. We kept a regular meeting schedule, and our effectiveness as partners grew. We stayed at News Corp for another couple of years, until we both found other opportunities that lured us away from the company. Although we weren’t working together any longer, I had a rooting interest in her career path, and she in mine.