Josh Berger, president and managing director, Warner Bros. U.K., Ireland and Spain, and president, Harry Potter Global Franchise Development, has decided to leave the company after more than 30 years of service.
“Josh is one of the most respected people in the industry,” says Gerhard Zeiler, international head, WarnerMedia. “He has been integral to the ongoing success of our Warner Bros. businesses in the U.K., Ireland and Spain and has been an incredible steward to the Harry Potter franchise. He was also the first Warner Bros. country manager, pioneering the model which shapes the international organization today. It is fair to say, that thanks to his leadership and energy our company is for sure better off today. I respect his desire to take on new challenges and, along with all of our colleagues across the company, wish him the very best.”
He will step down in December and will remain as an advisor to the senior management until the middle of 2021 for the Harry Potter franchise in his capacity as an executive producer on the third instalment of the “Fantastic Beasts” film series and upcoming BBC documentary “Fantastic Beasts: A Natural History,” among other projects.
“There’s nothing more amazing than seeing stories being brought to life on screen,” says Berger. “Over the last 31 years at Warner Bros., I’ve been lucky to see every part of that process in action. I’ve seen ideas being formed and deals being struck, magic being made in front of the camera and behind it and stories being told from – and sent to – all corners of the earth. I’m so grateful to all my colleagues for making this place feel like home for so long and wish them all the best for the future.”
In addition, Polly Cochrane has been promoted to country manager for WarnerMedia U.K. and Ireland, overseeing all commercial and group marketing activities in the region and will report directly to Priya Dogra, head, WarnerMedia EMEA & Asia (excl. China.)
Cochrane has been with WarnerMedia for 11 years and most recently served as executive vice president and group marketing director, Warner Bros. U.K. and Ireland, and chief marketing officer, Harry Potter Global Franchise Development.
“I’m delighted to welcome Polly to my leadership team,” says Dogra. “Polly brings a strong and inclusive leadership style, combined with a proven innovative approach to driving our beloved brands and franchises. As she takes on this broader set of responsibilities, our business will benefit from her wealth of experience in the U.K. media sector. I’m looking forward to tapping into the fresh thinking she will bring to the table.”
As a country manager, Cochrane is responsible for the development and execution of WarnerMedia’s strategy in the U.K. and Ireland and will coordinate and optimize all commercial and group marketing activities in the region. This will include theatrical distribution, content licensing, home entertainment, consumer products, as well as ad sales and affiliate distribution for the WarnerMedia channels. She will work closely with functional leaders in the U.S. and across Europe.
Cochrane’s colleagues on the WarnerMedia EMEA leadership team include recently promoted fellow country managers Iris Knobloch (France, Benelux, Germany, Austria and Switzerland), Barbara Salabè (Italy) and Pierre Branco (CEE, Nordics, the Middle East, Turkey and Africa) who is also head of affiliate and ad sales for EMEA.
Complementing the country manager structure are additional executive leadership colleagues, recently promoted heads of functions Hannes Heyelmann and Antony Root, who respectively lead the general entertainment programming and original production remits. Rounding out the team, Pedro Cosa continues to lead data and insights for networks; and Lesley Bailey and Cecilia Persson continue their leadership of the central EMEA kids and young adults team, with a dual report to Dogra and Tom Ascheim, president, kids, young adults and classics for WarnerMedia.
The reorganization follows the announcement in August that WarnerMedia was bringing the international operations of Warner Bros., HBO and Turner under one leadership for the first time, with Gerhard Zeiler, to whom Dogra reports, named as head of WarnerMedia International.