NBC Universal Staffs Up After Defections

GE Exec Michael Pilot Named Ad Sales Head

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- From selling truck leases to TV airtime time -- that's the trajectory of NBC Universal's new sales chief, Michael Pilot. The media company today announced that Mr. Pilot will replace Keith Turner; Ad Age first reported that the General Electric Co. executive was the likely candidate for the job.
Michael Pilot's strengths for NBCU may be in 'utilizing information technology and creating analytical processes to drive sales productivity.'
Michael Pilot's strengths for NBCU may be in 'utilizing information technology and creating analytical processes to drive sales productivity.' Credit: NBC

Edward Swindler named deputy
Mr. Pilot, a GE officer since 2002, was president-CEO of the Equipment Finance Group, part of GE Commercial Finance. His deputy for NBC Universal sales will be NBC vet Edward Swindler, who takes on the new role of chief operating officer of the sales division. Mr. Pilot reports to Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC Universal Television Group. Mr. Turner's departure was announced last week. GE is NBC Universal's parent.

Mr. Pilot's brand-new NBCU bio notes that "under his leadership, Equipment Finance Group grew its assets more than 50% to $25 billion and doubled net income to nearly $500 million."

But it may be another aspect of his tenure there that points to why GE thought he was the right man for the job. At a time when advertisers are demanding more accountability while also experimenting with auction-based sales models and the current trend toward "Googlizing" ad sales, Mr. Pilot is a "widely recognized expert in utilizing information technology and creating analytical processes to drive sales productivity," this morning's release stated. Mr. Pilot was featured in a September Harvard Business Review article titled 'The New Science of Sales Force Productivity.'"

Larger reorganization
Mr. Pilot's announcement was part of a larger reorganization at NBC Universal in which the company divided up reporting duties in the wake of Randy Falco's and David Zaslav's recent departures.

Jay Ireland, president of NBCU TV stations and network operations, now also oversees Mr. Falco's former responsibilities -- Telemundo, NBC Network affiliate relations and NBC Network operations -- and one of Mr. Zaslav's reporting lines, domestic first-run TV programming syndication.

Marc Graboff, president of NBC Universal Television, West Coast, will add oversight of domestic TV distribution.
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