Turning around a media giant


Jamie Livingston, director of the Livingston James Group, shares his thoughts following the latest in the series of ‘Leadership Conversations’ with STV’s CEO, Rob Woodward.

Since his appointment to the STV Group plc board, Rob Woodward’s impact on the business’ performance is undeniable.  Stripping back the business to focus on its core offering, Rob has reinvented the organisation as Scotland’s leading digital media brand.

This is not the first time that Rob has executed such a turnaround for a big media business. During his tenure as Commercial Director of Channel 4 Television, Rob developed and executed a commercial strategy for the business, which positioned the Corporation at the forefront of digital media.  He transformed the performance of Channel 4’s commercial businesses from heavily loss making to significant profitability.  He has a proven record of delivering for TMT companies for the last 20 years, in his positions as Managing Director of UBS Corporate Finance and Managing Partner of Braxton UK, the consulting arm of Deloitte.

Rob shared insight into his path to CEO when he spoke at our latest Leadership Conversation event, addressing a select group at a breakfast meeting overlooking stunning views of the Clyde from the STV boardroom.  It is clear that Rob is not afraid to take risks.  He described leaving the relative safety and security of his role at Channel 4 to come to STV Group plc when the business was experiencing very significant challenges.

Shortly after his arrival at STV, Rob started a major reconstruction of the group by instigating a sell-off of poorly performing assets including; Primesight, Virgin Radio and Pearl & Dean.  It is a risk that has obviously paid off, with the business paying dividend for the first time since 2006 in 2013 and continuing to perform since then, with the launch of STV Glasgow and STV Edinburgh playing a key part.

Rob’s style of leadership at STV is accessible and inclusive.  He has focussed on getting the whole business bought into creating one culture, and as such has spent time one-on-one with each of STV’s 460 employees as part of this exercise to discuss their views.  He has worked hard at making himself accessible as a leader, both figuratively and literally, taking his seat at the centre of STV’s open-plan office so as to be at the heart of the day-to-day running of the business.

What is clear is that Rob is focussed on people, consumers and employees, working hard to give them what they want and need.  He attributes much of his success at STV Group down to hiring, enthusing and developing great people in order to achieve business goals.

Livingston James host regular Leadership Conversations with the leaders of some of Scotland’s top businesses.  For more information contact [email protected] or call 0141 375 7333 to speak to one of our consultants.

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