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WarnerMedia’s ad sales lead exits amid wider company shakeup

WarnerMedia's president of ad sales, Donna Speciale, is leaving the company.

Speciale spent seven years as Turner's sales boss before moving into her new role after AT&T acquired WarnerMedia – then called Time Warner.

Speciale's exit marks a larger company-wide shakeup. Executive vice-president of portfolio sales and client parternships, Frank Sgrizzi, and executive vice-president of Turner's Ignite, Dan Riess, will both be leaving WarnerMedia this fall.

The Information first reported the news, and it was later confirmed by WarnerMedia's chief revenue officer, Gerhard Zeiler, who wrote in a company memo that he will lead ad sales in the interim.

"In all of the conversations I had, formal or informal, it was obvious that everyone understands how much the industry is transforming and that we need to change to enable us to stay at the top and lead the industry," wrote Zeiler.

"After a thoughtful review, I concluded that we also need to change the leadership structure to support the transition of our ad sales business. For the time being, I will lead ad sales as interim president, working with a three-person operational team with significant experience across portions of ad sales."

The team Zeiler describes includes: Amit Chaturvedi, who leads ad innovation and digital sales planning; Katrina Cukaj, who leads linear strategic planning and network partnerships; and Joe Hogan, who leads sales across agency, client, digital, direct response and content partnerships.

"I know that change can be challenging," Zeiler said. "But remember: change is also an opportunity, and our ambition is big. We are strengthening our core business, driving new revenue streams, and reshaping the corporate structure – all at the same time."

These changes come as WarnerMedia recently announced its new streaming service, HBO Max, its network-wide entry into the direct-to-consumer market as it competes with the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.

Speciale led WarnerMedia's first upfront presentation in May.

Featured by The Drum

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