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Anna Mallett - COO at BBC Studios

Wednesday, 22 February, 2017 -- Helen Wilson

Anna Mallett – COO BBC Studios

I have such fond memories of my time at Eltham College – impressive teachers, energetic lessons, great friends and beautiful grounds. It fuelled a love of learning which ultimately led to a BA in Geography at Durham, a PhD at Oxford and, after a stint in management consulting at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), an MBA at Harvard.

It was in the last week of my time in America when the faculty sent all the students an email. It posed a question they’d been asking for 35 years: Are you taking your next job a) for the money, or b) for love? Once everyone had answered it they shared the results of previous years. The alumni who’d ended up making the most money after leaving Harvard were those who’d selected b) – they’d planned their career around what they’d enjoyed rather than how much they’d earn.

As I reflected about the products I really cared about I immediately thought of Only Fools & Horses, Bergerac, and Lovejoy. So I realised it just had to be TV and I was fortunate to secure a job at the BBC. The British Broadcasting Corporation - established in 1922 was the first, and is still now the world's leading public service broadcaster. Its mission is to enrich people's lives with programmes that inform, educate and entertain. It offers an incredible array of national and regional TV programmes, radio stations and an extensive website. 

I started out in the strategy department, a natural move following my work at BCG. Having earned my stripes over several years I was lucky enough to be given the responsibility to run BBC Studios and Post Production, a commercial subsidiary of the BBC which provides all the operational support a programme needs – the studio, cameras, sound, editing, and post production.

After that I took on my current role – Chief Operating Officer of the BBC’s main production arm, BBC Studios. BBC Studios is a £400m revenue business producing bold, British, creative TV content across drama, comedy, entertainment, music, events, factual and natural history, as well as radio and digital output. From Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who, EastEnders and Mrs Brown’s Boys, to Planet Earth II, Glastonbury, Horizon and Life and Death Row, our programmes are renowned for their quality and loved by audiences in the UK and around the world. We are responsible for coming up with ideas, pitching them to the BBC and other broadcasters including ITV, Amazon and Netflix. We hire the stars and the script writers and produce the programmes. Putting on a television production is a bit like organising a wedding – every day!  I am responsible for the overall operation of the business – I have to make sure our programmes are on time, on budget and most of all safe for all the employees.

So when I reflect on that Harvard email all those years ago, would I say they’d got it right? Well, financially, versus my Harvard peers who went into Hedge Funds, Private Equity and Internet start-ups, things for me are more akin to Del Boy’s famous line “… this time next year we’ll be millionaires”. However, I am genuinely enriched by being part of a creative team that delivers inspiring content to millions of people every day. Nothing quite feels like the pride I feel when I see our logo appear at the end of another great show, and for that I am truly thankful for the guidance to follow my passion.

Anna Mallett 1992

This image shown in this article is copywright BBC Studios