Finding Your Voice: Interview with CNBC Director Sonie Osagie

“We are telling stories and writing the history books for tomorrow.” – Sonie Osagie

Sonie Osagie, strategy and operations professional at CNBC, has more than a decade of experience in the media industry with focuses on digital video and audio, data analytics, content strategy, and journalism. Growing up in a household of avid news-watchers, she developed an interest working in the media, eventually leading University Television (UTV 13) and writing for the Daily Pennsylvanian during her undergraduate career at the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, Sonie advises current MBA business students as a career coach at Columbia Business School and oversees the business development of a number of emerging platforms at CNBC. The Penn Innovators in Business asked her to share the lessons she learned through her path of media management and lend her advice for undergraduates today…

Sonie Osagie, CNBC Director of Strategic Content & News Partnerships

Tell us about your current career.

“I am currently at CNBC in a strategy and operations role that is focused on emerging businesses and platforms. My portfolio consists of two main areas: 1) content strategy for audio; specifically, I oversee the production of our podcasts at CNBC and launches of new series. 2) Business operations and strategy for CNBC Councils, which is one of our subscription businesses. These are membership programs that we’ve created for C-level executives. We have a network for chief technology officers and chief information officers–leaders that are thinking about digital transformation at their companies. We also have a second [network] that we built this year for chief human resources officers and chief diversity and inclusion officers, which focuses on employee engagement, human capital, the role of human resources. Within those areas, I’m responsible for business plan development and operational execution. Before we launched those new councils, we asked ourselves:

  1. How do we monetize them?
  2. What does the product itself look like?
  3. What’s the experience for someone who pays for a membership?
  4. What is our go-to market strategy and plan?
  5. What’s our pricing plan?
  6. What are competitors doing in a similar space?

In my day-to-day role, my focus is on how to monetize and grow these emerging revenue streams into viable businesses.”

How do you understand your professional strengths and weaknesses?

“Talking to people in similar fields really helps me understand the skills that I’m building and using on a day-to-day basis and how it fits into my own career path. It’s always good to have your eye on a ‘version’ of a prize knowing that it may shift and evolve over time.”

How do you find your voice in the workplace?

“Earlier in my career, I would tend to skew on the side of not speaking up enough naturally, so I told myself that in every meeting, I’m going to say something. I was invited to this meeting. I’m here for a reason. I have a voice and should use it. You won’t always feel like you want to say something or that you’re saying it in the right way but say it anyway.”

What is the worst advice you’ve received?

“Don’t take a job just for the money. While I very much understand that there’s more to work than the idea of how much you’re getting paid, in isolation, the phrase can devalue the importance of money. In fact, for many of us, money must be a critical factor. I would encourage young professionals: don’t let someone saying ‘don’t take a job just for the money’ make you think you shouldn’t negotiate your salary and benefits.”

What advice would you give to undergraduates interested in the media industry?

“Media and entertainment is such a special industry. It has the potential to touch lives in so many different ways to inform, to entertain, and to capture hearts and minds through many types of platforms. To that end, there are many ways to be in this industry. It can be on the content creation side, distribution side, audience side, sales side, marketing side, etc. I encourage folks to read job descriptions, bios, and start thinking about what resonates with you. I find a lot of value in the fact that we are being of service to the world. To paraphrase an often-quoted statement by Philip L. Graham, we are telling stories and writing the history books for tomorrow, creating the initial record of what has happened in the world. I love working with journalists each day and being able to equip them with the resources to help them tell the stories that are important to our audiences. It makes me proud to be working in journalism.”

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