In a surprise move, the DPP recently unveiled Rowan de Pomerai as the new CEO with immediate effect, with former CEO Mark Harrison transitioning into the role of Founder and Chief Content Officer (CCO). Harrison was CEO since the DPP was first created in 2015 and oversaw the organisation’s move to full independence in October 2022. De Pomerai operated as CTO since 2018, working with Harrison and COO Kelvin Jones to shape the DPP’s strategy. IBC365 spoke with the new CEO and CCO to shed some light on the move.

Why was the change in CEO made, and why now?

MH: The DPP has been growing ever since it began, and as our membership got larger and we’ve created ever more outputs, two priorities have emerged.

Rowan & Mark Photo 1 (1)

Rowan de Pomerai & Mark Harrison

The first is to optimise the way we use the skills of our leadership team, focusing each person where they can deliver maximum impact. The second is to structure ourselves in the way we believe best enables growth well into the future. This change has been planned for some time, and we see it as the best way to optimise our organisation for those two priorities.

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How does the change reflect the evolution of DPP since its formation in 2015?

RP: The purpose of the DPP from the very beginning was to bring all parts of the content supply chain together to enable change. Early on that involved a strong emphasis on common technical standards and best practice. Nowadays we have a greater focus on business and technology strategy.

But the north star of the DPP is unchanged: we believe that there is great power in bringing industry leaders together to discuss and collaborate on key challenges and opportunities.

If there’s one way that this change reflects the evolution of the DPP and the industry, it’s perhaps the fact that I’ve transitioned from CTO to CEO. Technology now sits at the heart of media companies, yet it must be firmly rooted in delivering business value. That’s why our blend of technical and editorial backgrounds makes us a great team.

What will you bring to the table as the new CEO? What are your goals and ambitions?

RP: My primary goal is to deliver the most value to an ever-growing community of member companies, and I share the vision, passion, and energy that Mark has demonstrated in building the DPP - we are aligned in our outlook on what the DPP offers the industry.

What I bring to the table is primarily a rounded understanding of the industry. I’ve worked for a broadcaster, a studio, a TV platform, and a software company. I come from an engineering background but I’ve delivered change projects in business and creative environments. I’ve been both a buyer and a seller of technology and services. So I think I understand our members pretty well, and I have a deep curiosity to always learn more.

As for what I want to achieve, I want to continue to grow the DPP, because its power lies in the strength of its network. However, I want to do it in a way that feels focused and relevant for each member. So I’ll be working to ensure that we deliver a really human and personal experience, but one which is increasingly enabled by great data. That approach will help us to understand our members better, and offer them the content and interactions most relevant to them.

Mark – how will your duties change in your new role? What will you be working on?

MH: The notion that openness, peer-to-peer sharing, and collaboration are critical success factors is now well accepted. But back in 2015, the idea of forming an industry association on that premise was radical! I remember being - literally - shouted at by people who thought the DPP was an outrage - either because they assumed it had to be some cunning new means of control for broadcasters, or because they made money from complexity. So I’m very proud to have read the future correctly and created a community to which so many companies would want to belong.

The DPP is a community, but we are also a content company. We live or die by the judgments we make about the topics we focus on, and the quality of the events and insight we generate around those topics. It takes huge focus to get those things right. It’s my responsibility now to ensure we are more responsive, relevant and valuable than ever in the content we create.

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How will the change in leadership be reflected in DPP’s long-term strategy and goals going forward?

MH: The overall strategy is something that Rowan, our COO Kelvin, and I have developed together for several years, so there isn’t going to be a dramatic shift. But of course things will evolve, because one of the DPP’s greatest strengths is its agility.

We showed this strongly during the pandemic, when we changed our work plan and editorial outputs to suit the needs of the industry, rather than simply trying to take our usual events and run them online. We will continue to constantly assess how we can best provide value to our member companies - and we have some new ideas we’re not ready to share yet. The key thing is that Rowan will do a great job in leading us to deliver whatever we decide to do.

What do you envision as being the biggest challenges faced by the organisation in the coming years?

RP: From one perspective, it looks as though I’m taking this role at a challenging time. A cost of living crisis combined with a downturn in the advertising market has made for a tougher financial environment for the whole industry. Media companies are under huge pressure to focus on the bottom line, while tech companies are facing potentially disruptive changes from AI and a new wave of competitors.

Yet in challenging times, businesses need to feel assured in the decisions they make. So now more than ever, leaders are looking to us to bring them together, facilitate knowledge exchange, and offer our own perspective on a rapidly evolving industry. I think we have a great deal of opportunity ahead.

The challenges we face are actually the same as they always are. We have to ensure we continue to identify the most relevant and important topics, which is why Mark’s role as COO is so important. And then we must bring together the right experts to explore ideas and share that value with the whole community.

No one has to be a member of the DPP. Our greatest challenge is to always ensure they want to be. That’s the challenge that makes us what we are, and we love it.

What does the future hold for the DPP?

RP: I’ll be at NAB in Las Vegas. And then our main focus will be on our next major conference, the Media Supply Festival, which takes place in New York at the end of May.

Beyond that, there’s an exciting calendar of insight such as a new Media CTO Survey, and of course our flagship Leaders Briefing event in November. There’s a lot to look forward to.

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