How has your career portfolio changed over the last 5 years? Why?
Over the last five years my position has pivoted five times and I moved from broadcast to cable – from Los Angeles to Charlotte. I went from broadcast network creative VP, to interim department head for on–air promotion, to a more strategic role of VP of Operations/Digital Workflow, to self–employed marketing consultant, back to Creative VP/department head at a cable network. Mostly the changes happened out of my environment changing (people leaving, network downsizing/shifting focus etc.). I was able to pivot successfully by continuing to analyze the department, identify areas that weren’t being actively handled and taking on new responsibilities. So when a change happened I was able to remain valuable to the business.
How did you get from where you were to where you are now?
The first two transitions were out of opportunity. Prior to 2012 at Fox Broadcasting in LA I served as VP On-Air Promotion handling the promotion of all of our network dramas. I was one of the Senior Vice Presidents in the department, had a good reputation and knew the ins and outs of the network and who the vital stakeholders were. Our EVP department head left suddenly in 2013 at Fox so there was an opportunity for me to ‘try it on for size’ and see if I wanted the role. They ended up hiring from somewhere else… so instead of being upset I was passed over, I made myself available and open to ‘training’ my new boss into his new role, continuing to make myself valuable. The second pivot to operations/digital workflow came as the new CEO at Fox wanted to make a change hiring their own people, but because of my reputation they knew my value and knowledge of the network so I was asked to create a position I felt the department/network needed. Third, when I shifted to consultant when Fox downsized across all their networks, focusing on the higher paid positions so the department didn’t renew my contract. I had enough contacts both at Fox and outside of Fox I could continue to work while looking for another career opportunity. I spent six months consulting and looking for the ‘right fit’ for me both personally and professionally. The opportunity came up at INSP to get me back into creative, leading a department and finding a better work/life balance for my family. Rather than continue to ‘slug it out’ in LA I had the courage to make the jump to a different market in a tangential industry… and so far it’s paid off.
How did you determine who would be in your career network?
I’ve heard it said to get a job you either have to be very talented, very cool or know somebody. To be a success in that job you need at least two of those things. I try very much to be all three. The people who I keep in my network are the people who I worked with that I felt were very good at their jobs and very easy to get along with – a good partner. You get to know them personally as well so you have more to talk about than just business. Remember specific details about them – where they lived, spouse’s name, kids names, name of pet so you’ve got that non-work commonality. And continue to touch base from time to time through business social apps like LinkedIn. I know as someone who hires people, if someone I know recommends a person I’ll definitely take a look at their resume or portfolio. If you maintain a good reputation and good rapport with people they’ll most likely recommend you for a position.
Describe the milestones and requirements necessary for your pivot. Was there a position or title you sought or a specific mission critical issue you addressed?
I addressed a lot of these milestones in question 2. Most of my pivots were out of necessity. Change in leadership/change in network agenda, things out of my control shut down my trajectory at the time. But because I continued to develop new skillsets beyond my job description and maintained a good reputation at work I was able to be seen as valuable to the company in multiple ways and they were able to envision me in a different role beyond my current one. I wasn’t ‘pigeonholing’ myself.
Basically my advice is to continue to grow in your current position and learn new things, continue to analyze the business and workflows, find an area that isn’t being addressed and take ownership of that area. Take on roles you weren’t necessarily asked to do. That way you get to learn a new skill set, show yourself as a self-starter and become increasingly valuable to the company. All of these things add to your personal brand value and allow you to be nimble when the environment changes.
If you have a goal in mind as an example, "I want to be head of a network" start with the end in mind and lay out "what steps can I take now that will lead me there?" Don’t be afraid to take opportunities when they arise. You won’t know what lies ahead of you until you take that step. Remember to take each step the right way (i.e. don’t try to get ahead by intentionally making others look bad) because your co-workers today could be your boss tomorrow… and any of them could be the people to recommend you down the line. Also you’ll realize as you start the journey toward your goal your priorities change and that means your goal will potentially change. Know the trajectory is not necessarily a straight line… sometimes a lateral move is the most effective way to get to your goal.
My professional goal has always been less about a specific title/position and more about simply wanting to ‘do it better.’ Wanting to make my department/network better, wanting to make myself better by learning new things, wanting to make my work environment the best it can be so my time at work matters and I’m able to find a more dynamic balance between my work and personal life. As I’ve focused more on improving myself and the people around me, the promotions and new opportunities always seem to fall into place.
Peter Overland is no stranger to television. With 24 years in the industry, he has built an impressive resume. Peter has created and executed award-winning marketing campaigns for some of the most influential broadcast series of the last decade. Titles include: Glee, Empire, Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, House, The Following, ’24’ – Live Another Day, Fringe, Bones and The OC.
His experience is comprehensive: directing, conceptualizing, shooting and editing promos, commercials and live newscasts for broadcast, cable and multi-platform distribution. Peter has run creative departments as large as 100+ and managed annual operating budgets exceeding $18M.
Graduating Cum Laude from Arizona State University, Peter has a B.A. in Broadcasting from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He holds numerous distinctions, including being the recipient of a CableFax Trailer Award, Clio Key Art Award, multiple Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards and numerous Promax Awards.
Peter’s current position is VP of On-Air Promotion at INSP, a family-friendly television network located in Indian Land, SC (outside of Charlotte, NC). In this role he’s helping to develop a burgeoning creative department and oversees the ideation, creation and execution of network programming promos that compliment and drive the INSP brand.