Pioneering Diversity, the Future of the Movie Experience, and Being Yoda’s Stepmother with Mellody Hobson

Negotiating a mega deal, and disrupting the industry from the top down: Mellody Hobson, the Co-CEO and President of Ariel Investments, Board Director of JP Morgan and Starbucks, and former Chairman of Dreamworks discusses her perspective on the past, current, and future of the entertainment industry, as well as her perspectives on race, diversity, mental health, and gender in America today.

Mellody started at Ariel Investments as a college intern while at Princeton, and is now Co-CEO. She discusses why she has spent 31 years at Ariel, and how her relationship with Ariel founder John Rogers shaped her college choice, her career, and her outlook on business. She also shares how her husband, George Lucas, has helped shape her understanding of entertainment and film, from spending time at Skywalker Ranch, becoming Yoda’s stepmom, and witnessing Lucas’ creative process. 

 

When Hobson was in her 30s, she joined the Starbucks Board. Then, she was approached by Howard Schultz, who told Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Gethin that Hobson was a prime candidate to be on the board of Dreamworks. Hobson jumped on the chance, joining a board which she describes as “Moguls ‘R Us.” She discusses her experience on the board for 10+ years, beginning as a “pipsqueak” in the room to later becoming Chairman and acting as chief negotiator during the Comcast acquisition.

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According to Hobson, the key to success for modern media companies lies in the refusal to stay in the past. She cites examples of Comcast, Disney, and Netflix as companies who evolve with advancement of technology and changing the demand of consumers. Hobson also predicts that streaming services will soon be re-bundled and streamlined, as unbundling is more costly and poses more technological challenges to consumers than traditional cable.  

 

Later, Wolpert and Hobson delve into the issues of race, gender, and mental health in America today. Hobson is the only Black woman who is the chairwoman of a Fortune 500 Company, which signals that there is still much progress to be made. She addresses the shortcomings of the corporate world when it comes to diversity in both race and gender, and how diversity initiatives oftentimes mask and perpetuate underrepresentation

"Mellody Hobson" by Joi is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Mellody is also on the board of directors of After School Matters, the largest non-profit of its kind in the world, which provides after school and summer program opportunities to nearly 25,000 at-risk Chicago high school teens each year

This podcast is presented by:

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Hosted by: Richard Wolpert

Produced and edited by: AJ Moseley