Home News Media News CEO Of Variety, Michelle Sobrino-Stearns, Paves The Way For Future Female Executives In Media

CEO Of Variety, Michelle Sobrino-Stearns, Paves The Way For Future Female Executives In Media

CEO Of Variety, Michelle Sobrino-Stearns, Paves The Way For Future Female Executives In Media

Image: Michelle Sobrino-Stearns, CEO of Variety, has found ways to achieve nine consecutive years of revenue gains and innovation, marking the strongest period of growth in the company’s history.

What is it like to be a female CEO of a large media company?

As the digital publishing landscape continues to evolve, media outlets are becoming innovative in their approach to remaining relevant. Digital publishing revenue is expected to reach over $11 billion by 2025. As a result, leadership finds new ways to stay at the forefront of social shifts and trends.

Michelle Sobrino-Stearns, CEO of Variety, has found ways to achieve nine consecutive years of revenue gains and innovation, marking the strongest period of growth in the company’s history. Editorially, the brand has been recognized consistently for excellence in journalism by various associations, receiving over 187 nominations and 43 wins in the past year alone. Under her leadership, she is paving the way for future female CEOs and executives.

“The biggest challenge is how are you going to evolve as a brand?” Sobrino-Stearns explains. “That was the challenge before I became CEO. That’s always been the challenge; how does a brand constantly evolve? I always have that at the top of my mind. At the end of the day, I always want to introduce new IP. I want to constantly evolve as a brand. We do that as a team… We always want the print product to evolve because we’re still investing heavily in print, whether it’s photography or journalists. Then there’s video. We invested a lot in a very strong video team over the last few years. Same with social. Same with branded content. We hire professional storytellers and journalists to work in what we call the writing content studio. Right now, we’re fortunate because we have the highest traffic of any entertainment business news website. This is not luck. It’s not chance. It’s strategy.”

Sobrino-Stearns started her career in advertising in media buying and planning. When she transitioned to the second agency, the office shared a building with Variety. She networked whenever she had the chance and quickly became friends with one of the workers at the media outlet. She was forward with the individual, expressing that she would like to work at the publication.


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One day her phone rang with an opportunity. Sobrino-Stearns applied for the job and accepted a hybrid coordinator-slash-junior sales position.

“I started studying Variety as a business right when I started there,” Sobrino-Stearns states. “How were they organized? How were they structured? Where was the opportunity? I didn’t know anything about the entertainment business. I read that there was this booming marketplace in Miami for the Latin market. The one thing I did have was I was bilingual and completely fluent in Spanish; it’s my first language. After three months on the job, I wrote a business plan about how I would take over the Miami market and the Latin market. And I even put in forecasted revenue.

I was young. I got to go to Miami and South Beach twice a month. Take extensive meetings. I got to use my Spanish. I established incredible relationships. That’s the number one key; establishing relationships in whatever industry you work in. That was what catapulted my career at Variety. It got me noticed. I brought new business. I had new relationships. It’s what differentiated me from some of the other executives of the company.”

Sobrino-Stearns worked her way up the corporate ladder to eventually serving as president and group publisher before being appointed CEO. She orchestrated numerous Variety divisions and franchises, including their events business, during her tenure. This division produces hundreds of virtual and live events and summits annually. The franchises she has created include the Power of Women event series in partnership with Lifetime Television. The annual event celebrates women in the entertainment industry leading the charge and dedicating their time offscreen to supporting various charities and causes. Additionally, the media CEO spearheaded the multiple Emmy-winning Actors on Actors series in partnership with PBS.

Practicing giving autonomy to team leaders and encouraging them to take risks is essential to Sobrino-Stearns. She understands that the brand’s evolution occurs at the intersection of trust and proactive thinking.

As Sobrino-Stearns evolves her leadership style and the brand, she focuses on the following essential steps:


  • Know your audience. Invest in tools that will engage with your stakeholders.
  • Hire people with different skill sets. Make sure your team is diverse, and every voice is heard and represented.
  • Adapt to the world around you; it’s ever-changing. If you don’t follow the trends, you will be left behind.


“At the end of the day, we serve an audience,” Sobrino-Stearns concludes. “That’s what we have. That’s what we’re most mindful of. We’ve just been able to take far more risks than we ever have, which is so exciting.”

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Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylrobinson/2022/11/03/ceo-of-variety-michelle-sobrino-stearns-paves-the-way-for-future-female-executives-in-media/?sh=3fe9909c613c


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