Barbara Zaneri

In Zaneri’s new role, she must navigate the complexity that has arisen from streaming and linear platforms vying for product. Her job includes negotiating cross-platform, multiyear, multi-use cable license agreements for hit series including “Friends,” “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.” Known to competitors as “tough but honest,” Zaneri recently managed to acquire the full library of 180 “Seinfeld” episodes, which began airing on Comedy Central in October 2021. Getting to where she is today involved a sabbatical early in her career, after which she found that the market had moved along without her. “What I did was open myself to all possibilities…[this] led to a decade-long career in Hollywood, which eventually brought me back to NY and ViacomCBS.”

Best advice for someone looking to re-enter the workforce after a hiatus?
Early in my career, I took a sabbatical from the programming position I held at a NY TV station to travel extensively through Africa and Europe. When I returned, I found the market had moved along without me and finding another position as coveted as the one I had was not likely. What I did was open myself to all possibilities—moving to another market, starting at a lower level, and using the extensive office skills I had accumulated. This allowed me to take an assistant role at a major studio in LA, which led to a decade-long career in Hollywood, which eventually brought me back to NY and ViacomCBS

Do you have an example of male allyship that made a difference to you?
When I was the only woman working on a national sales force for a major studio, we were expected to attend intense week-long training sessions in faraway places. These were often “guy” retreats filled with booze, smoke and golf. It was obvious I was a fish out of water, but unbeknownst to me, the head of sales would make sure I was put in his golf cart or that I had a shot of water available instead of tequila. I did not realize it at the time, but he was ensuring that I felt comfortable participating in all activities and that I was seen as part of the team. He remains a dear friend and industry colleague who we do much business with to this day.

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