When Barbara Landes was vice president of business planning at AOL Broadband, PBS tried to poach her. She turned them down (several times). Her role at AOL was constantly changing, and she kept getting the chance to start new projects, like AOL’s personal finance channel and its first broadband service. She also got to learn more about the business side, a good opportunity, since she was a finance person at heart.
Eventually she gave in, and she’s been the CFO of PBS for 10 years. Landes says moving to PBS allowed her to manage more people across departments. Management is one of her strengths, and she didn’t get to foster those skills at AOL, which had a matrix management structure.
Landes has been upfront about her needs throughout her career. When she took a job at WWOR TV, a standalone television station owned by MCA/Universal, she told them she would be bored just being their CFO and pushed for more responsibility. Soon she was managing the production and operations departments, including 110 engineers. The station ran news, sports (including Mets baseball and Nets basketball) and even Howard Stern’s first television program. Landes has also held finance roles at Watson Wyatt Worldwide (now TowersWatson), NBC and CBS.
Landes sat down with CFO at our Rising East conference in Miami to share what she’s learned about management and why she made the leap to the nonprofit.
Originally published April 3, 2014.