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John O'Hara: Spotlight on sales

What do Ellen, TMZ and the Big Bang Theory have in common? They are sales properties managed by John O'Hara, a 1982 graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

O'Hara started in media planning at an advertising agency in New York when he graduated from USC. Because of his expertise in advertising, people began calling on him for advice, and he decided to tailor his career path to the area of sales.

As executive vice president of media sales at Warner Bros., O'Hara has garnered much attention and respect for his dynamic work in sales. He said his current duties "include management of national television sales for all Warner Bros. domestic syndication sales properties including Ellen, TMZ, Extra, Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men."

"New business is a big initiative for me," O'Hara explains. For him, it is about growing the revenue of the company and spending more money on shows. He joined Warner Bros. in October 2013.

Prior to joining Warner Bros., O'Hara served as executive vice president and general manager of young adults advertising sales for 24 years at Turner Broadcasting, a sister company of Warner Bros. He was at Turner Broadcasting when Adult Swim, a segment of the Cartoon Network that caters specifically to adult audiences, launched.

"I am most proud of the role I played at Turner as an executive who took an interest in mentoring younger people in the company," O'Hara says. "Also, the launch of Adult Swim and growing the revenue base from an initial few million dollars to a several hundred million dollar cable network was a great challenge and experience I was fortunate to be a part of as well."

In addition to being successful in sales, O'Hara is also extremely passionate about students having the opportunity to succeed.

When mentoring college students, he likes to constantly challenge himself and often tells students that they must sometimes have a "selfish agenda."

O'Hara explains that students must always do research on their intended fields of study and that they must constantly ask themselves, "Am I learning or challenging my mind?" When O'Hara started in sales, he chose Ted Turner as a role model. "Ted is a unique visionary and I have been very fortunate to represent networks he created, like CNN and Cartoon Network, over the years. I have learned much from the culture he cultivated and all of us who worked for him in those years are better executives because of the experience we gained from Turner Broadcasting's approach toward business."

O'Hara hopes to make a positive impact on Warner Bros. His professional goals for this year are "to be a strong leader within Warner Bros. and to expand their base of advertisers and grow the revenue base."

Article by Noelle Jones
Published in the Spring 2014 issue of InterCom

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