Warner Bros. Discovery: A Career Conversation with Nicholas Levan


What initially drew you to Warner Bros. Discovery?
Oh that's a very loaded question because I've been here for 18 years. I was a newly graduated theater major but unfortunately didn't do all the “homework” needed to do to reach my goals, at that time. I like to joke that I am the poster child for "do as I say, not as I did". I wanted to eventually do voices for Cartoon Network. I knew enough about Turner that if I could get a foot in the door, then I'd be able to maneuver my way around eventually. I took a job as a tour guide for CNN because I enjoyed talking to people, even though I had zero interest in news whatsoever. But like many situations, the longer I was there, my interests began to change. Through a very, very winding pathway and a refusal to walk out the door, I've managed to hop around the company.  From working for CNN directly to working for Turner to Warner Media, and eventually the newly-minted Warner Bros. Discovery, I have experienced many changes in my role(s).

How does Warner Bros. Discovery convey to employees a sense of belonging?
I think the organization is learning how to do that.  As a newly formed group, I think the priority has been to focus on the C-suite. In terms of belonging, it's all about trying to champion multiple company cultures and trying to mesh that together.  Right now it's definitely in that weird flexible part of the merger process where you know one thing and they know one thing, and now we get to learn something together.   The hard part is not over-championing the past.  So far, they’ve done a good job of allowing us to have a voice and to understand what we're looking for in the company, and I think that will pay huge dividends later.  But for now, we're so early in the process, only about three months in, that it's a little too soon to tell.

In what ways has Warner Bros. Discovery supported your professional development and growth?
Through the various entities that I've worked for within this company I've always felt there's somebody in our organization that is willing to lend an ear or to provide a suggestion that could help. With every change I have sought in my career, this company has always been really good at championing me. I also feel that I have never been without somebody I can talk with about something.  Whether it's a mentor or even an opportunity to learn things from people who are newer in the company, there’s always been that kind of development and support system.

In what ways are you supported in maintaining a healthy work-life balance
I think we’ve had really good work life balance, up to this point.  I have three kids, ranging from 9 to 14, so it's one of those things where I do have to have a certain amount of balance.  So far, they've always been good to me, whether it's with time off opportunities or just taking the chance to do what I need to do. Sometimes it’s nice to hear a leader say “hey this just happened, why don't you take this time (you didn't ask for) and then come back ready to deal with the situation”.  Flexibility goes a long way!

How do you know that you’re making a difference/having an impact with the work that you do?
Early on in recruiting I was working with undergrads,  masters students, and MBA candidates; people with their whole career in front of them.  My job was to empower them to get what/where they want, so the sense that I'm helping them achieve their first goal or to reach that first rung of the ladder is really fulfilling. As a result, I've been fortunate enough to work with some people who just needed some encouragement to be great.  I have met young people who turn into really amazing stories. It's been nice to be a small part of that for a lot of people and It’s incredibly fulfilling to empower others to better understand the pathway to achieving their goals. I think this organization cares about it's people. Look, at the end of the day, It's  still a corporation with rules and a bottom line, but I'm proud to champion what (usually) feels like a collection of small cities that care about others, whether it's something as simple as diversity, or being an advocate for a group of people, it has been easy to get behind a company that puts their money where their mouth is.

In what ways do you feel like you’ve grown since working for Warner Bros. Discovery?
I was a little selfish when I first started with this company. I thought I knew a lot, and I was quickly brought down to earth and understood that I was at the bottom rung of the ladder right now. You start to realize that if you continue to act one way and say these things then you're going to alienate the people who could help you climb out of that rut. After 18 years of hindsight, I can see the leadership skills that have developed, along with the people skills, all of which were vital to sticking with the company and growing with an organization.  I'm not only better at what I do professionally, but I am a much better husband and father having gone through this growth.

What do you wish you had known about the professional world when you were a student?
When you start your career there's a certain expectation that you're going to do X, Y and Z in order to achieve what you want. Whether it's something as simple as reading more critically (to learn rather than to absorb), or doing the hard things first, there are several small things  I wish I had done and properly utilized to be more successful.  In school, I wasn't the type of person who really “digs-in”.  I was all over the place!  At times I thought I wanted one thing, I thought “this sounds good”, when in reality, I was misguided.   I know now that it's fine to not know exactly what you want to do long term, even until the very last second, but I also know that not doing your research or utilizing resources like the Career Center and student organizations, ( I was part of some), is like throwing away money.  I don't think I fully applied myself I certainly didn't tap the resources of the University of Georgia.

In thinking about emerging young professionals, what advice would you share to those seeking their first opportunities?
The first piece of advice that I always give people is to use/utilize your university to its full extent.  If you don't have the professional experience or internships on your resume, I guarantee you, especially at a large university like UGA, there are probably 15 to 20 student organizations that can help you gain some much-needed experience. It's a great chance to learn from people who are in the same phase of life and have opportunities to share experience in small bites. You need to start building that resume and overall portfolio, so you might as well see how others are doing it while you learn.  Next, utilize your Career Center. There are so many professionals who work with students and help connect them with employers like (well me).  One more set of eyes on your work is never a bad thing!  Once you do those basics, make sure you have a rough idea of what you want, then you can consider the “big picture”. Think of all the companies in your area you might like to work for and, even before you're eligible, take a look at (research) what they offer.  (What types of positions are they posting, what do those positions look for?) Finally as you're starting to evaluate positions, start (critically) digging into the job description and determining if you can do 70% to 90% of what they're asking. It’s a no brainer, If YOU can do that and YOU match those qualifications, then at very least, your resume will be reviewed by the recruiter.  Never forget: Your resume is not designed to get you a job. No matter what anybody says your resume is designed to get you to the interview. If you get the interview, then you can blow them away with what you know and how well you fit the role.

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