In Focus: Abigail Hughes from Premiere Digital

Abigail Hughes is Vice-President Growth EMEA at Premiere Digital. We caught up with her for our In Focus series, which highlights the work of inspirational women from across the sector.

Hi Abigail, great to catch up! Could you tell us more about your role?

As Vice-President of Growth for Europe, Middle East and Africa Region for Premiere Digital, my role supports our existing European clients and seeks to expand our services and technology to the global market, providing digital supply chain solutions for international clients in the Region. 

We are a Media Servicing and Software company working with content owners and platforms ranging from major Hollywood studios and platforms like Apple and Google to many independent companies and film producers through our Aggregation services. As a technology focussed media company, we bring innovation to entertainment, affording me the opportunity to work with the content I love and collaborate with the fabulous, innovative clients I admire in the business.

What does a day in your working life look like and has this changed dramatically as a result of Covid-19?

I joined Premiere Digital the week after the UK lockdown in March 2020, so I haven’t had the chance to visit our HQ in Los Angeles yet or meet the colleagues I am working with virtually every day.  All this considered, the onboarding into my role and support from the team has been amazing. It’s a challenge sometimes working in different timezones but I’m used to that from my days at Sony Pictures working with the Studio in LA.  

However, the biggest shift has been in navigating day to day interactions with clients.  It’s been very different to build new working relationships with clients when it’s always through a screen. But, I think it has given us more appreciation of what we had pre-Covid and people have adapted amazingly.  In some ways, the process has been made easier since both clients and colleagues are in similar unfamiliar territory and I have more flexibility to manage my working day, which isn’t a conventional one. 

With home-school for my youngest in lockdown as well, I raise my glass to our hero teachers everywhere!!

How did you begin your career and what inspired you to look at jobs within the broadcast technology sector?

My first role in media was at BBC Worldwide when I was an agency temp PA for one week.  I was working for the Director of Global Distribution, Fabiola Arredondo, who was my first mentor and took me on permanently. I was always obsessed with television and movies so it was a perfect fit when I discovered the commercial side of the business in licensing and delivering content globally beyond it’s domestic transmission or theatrical release.  

I progressed through various positions in Sales and Sales Administration and had 3 children along the way.  I was with the organisation for 16 years and my last position there was SVP of Global Sales Operations.  It was an incredible organisation to grow my career with and I will always be grateful for my time there and the people I learnt from who supported me along the way.

How do you think the industry will change as a result of Covid-19?

I strongly believe there is still an important role for the office in how we collaborate and work together and I have missed that over the last year.  However, I think flexibility in how people also work from home will be the norm, which is a real positive. Many companies have been challenged to restructure their organisations, business models, and operations as a result of Covid, so I see more consolidation in the industry with adapted workflows allowing for better flexibility to an increasingly digital-oriented workspace. 

We are very lucky to have been part of an expanding sector and have never been busier as content owners and platforms depend heavily on digital services as a reliable stream of income. They are digging deep into their catalogues to monetise content and satisfy demand of streaming platforms. 

In addition, to changing workflows, there will continue to be a growth in how we leverage technology to enhance processes and entertainment experiences, with the increased use of the cloud, automation and AI in the media sector. As a data driven company, these components have been a crucial differentiator of us.

What are you main challenges over the coming year?

With Covid significantly impacting traditional revenue streams for businesses, media services providers such as ourselves have been challenged to provide more creative solutions that adapt to our partners’ priorities. Our goals have expanded to not only saving our clients time and money through automated workflows, but finding ways to work with a variety of partners to support our clients’ digital monetisation strategies worldwide. 

It’s also difficult for some companies to find the best applications for innovation and new ways of working in this climate but those who have are well placed for 2021 and beyond. For our company, we are fortunate to work with such brilliant clients in their own right, that see the value we bring.  So the challenge has been met by not only serving our clients with the solutions they need, but working alongside clients to push the envelope of traditional expectations for media. 

Finally, very appropriate to Rise, I think the representation of women at a senior level in technology organisations continues to be a challenge, although it shouldn’t be. So, I am very lucky to be working for an organisation with incredible women in senior roles in all areas.

Thanks to Abigal for sharing more about her experiences.