How the Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Team Tackles Innovation, Connection and Growth

Senior VP Hania Poole describes her team’s culture, the projects they’re working on and the impact of producing live sports entertainment.

Written by Olivia McClure
Published on Oct. 13, 2023
How the Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Team Tackles Innovation, Connection and Growth
Warner Bros Discovery.
Brand Studio Logo

So much can go wrong when working on live sports entertainment.  

That’s why Senior Vice President of Digital and Product at Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Hania Poole considers resilience one of the key values on her team. Yet despite the risks associated with live streaming, like poor video quality ruining the experience of watching a great play, those possible hiccups pale in comparison to the excitement of meeting fans where they are and bringing memorable sports experiences to life. 

“Success for us looks like bringing joy to fans, drawing large audiences to our business and having fun while we’re doing it,” Poole said. 

Being on Poole’s team offers the opportunity to experience valuable growth alongside people who are as much friends as colleagues. “We make fun of ourselves and laugh a lot,” she added. 

“Success for us looks like bringing joy to fans, drawing large audiences to our business and having fun while we’re doing it.”

Aside from the fun banter and career development opportunities, those on Poole’s team get to contribute to exciting new projects, such as transforming sports news outlet Bleacher Report into a modern platform. She said this latest endeavor aims to empower sports fans to become creators and contribute their voices to the sports community. 

Working on Bleacher Report provides one of Poole’s favorite elements of the job — the ability to create sound product strategy out of an inspiring vision. The journey from idea to delivery defines the work her team accomplishes, offering her teammates the chance to make a major impact on both the organization and the industry as a whole. 

“It’s an incredibly exciting way to participate in live sports and with these amazing brands that we have,” Poole said. 

Below, Poole describes her team’s culture, the projects they’re working on and the impact of producing live sports at Warner Bros. Discovery. 

 

How do you help your teammates stretch their skills?

Hania Poole
Senior Vice President of Digital and Product, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports • Warner Bros. Discovery

There are companywide learning and development resources available to everyone, and I also devote a budget to people who seek out other training experiences that might be less traditional. But that’s really only one part of what it means to help people grow. I think the bigger part is allowing people to be empowered and feel like they can fail and be OK, and then coach them. I develop close relationships with my direct reports because I need to build that trust so that I can be honest with them about where their gaps are. 

Ultimately, it’s a cycle of empowering people and delegating early on, seeing where the gaps are and coaching them through those gaps. We’ve also gone through a lot of change over the past few years, and in those moments I try to give people more responsibility so that they’re pushed to reach their full potential and have the opportunity to grow their career.

Additionally, I put together a culture committee. Their mission is simple — to make people want to be here. If people want to be here, it means they feel included, seen and heard. And if they want to be here, they’re going to give you their best work.

 

The Key Values on Poole's Team

  • Resilience is a key value on my team for many reasons. There are so many things that can go wrong in digital — and so many things that can go right, too. But certainly things can go wrong, especially when you’re thinking about live sports, so resilience matters.” 
  • Curiosity is another one. We stay up to date on the latest trends in terms of tech and platforms and new ways to increase engagement. You have to be curious in those spaces.” 
  • Hard work — I think everyone across WBD can say that, but in sports, that’s definitely an important value, because we typically end up working nights and weekends.”
  • Inclusion is incredibly important in everything we do as well, and so is humor. I surround myself with funny people.”

 

What exciting projects is your team currently working on?

We’re transforming Bleacher Report into a modern platform so people can utilize the technology to build community around sports. Specifically, we’re empowering sports fans to become creators and contribute their voices and their talent to our platform. We’re modernizing the site from a user interface standpoint and adopting a new strategy regarding how we go to market. 

We’re also launching live sports on Max, which is a huge project and super exciting, considering we’re one of the first direct-to-consumer services to do that. My team is playing a critical role in that and working very closely with the Max leadership team. 

I’m also excited to see my leadership team come together. I’ve consolidated leaders across all of the brands we work on, and I believe that will truly foster collaboration and optimize talent and skills. I’m looking forward to seeing what that does for the business, and I think it’s going to be really good for us.

 

What’s the impact of working on your team?

What I love about my team is that we take vision and create strategy from that, meaning we develop the process to execute. We see it all the way from the front end, where it’s only an idea and a vision, to actually bringing it to life. 

A fun part of that work is ensuring that our technology serves our business requirements. That’s the piece where we translate business into tech and tech into business, so that we can guarantee that the technology we’re working with supports our overall goals. That requires a lot of problem-solving together, and that’s key to our work and our growth. 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Warner Bros Discovery.

SHARE