BBC bolsters commercial ambition with new-look BBC Commercial Board
The BBC has announced a series of appointments to the Board overseeing BBC Studios as part of its continuing plan to build its commercial business, one of the BBC’s four strategic priorities under Director-General Tim Davie.
A re-named BBC Commercial Board (formerly BBC Commercial Holdings Board) will, for the first time, feature a majority of external non-executive directors, together bringing commercial, financial and digital experience and deep global expertise across media and technology.
Sir Damon Buffini appointed Chairman of BBC Commercial
Sir Damon Buffini has been appointed Chairman of the BBC Commercial Board, which will oversee BBC Studios, as well as the Corporation’s other commercial activity, including BBC Studioworks. Driving commercial growth is the principal concern of the new BBC Commercial Board.
Sir Damon will bring his vast experience in business and the cultural sector to the role as Chairman of the BBC Commercial Board. As the founding partner of the global investment firm Permira, and with a long history of involvement in the arts, Sir Damon is well placed to guide the future growth of BBC Studios and the BBC’s broader commercial ambitions.
Sir Damon began his appointment as a non-executive director of the BBC in January 2022 and becomes Chairman of the BBC Commercial Board on 1 April.
Sir Damon Buffini, Chairman of BBC Commercial Board, says: “BBC Studios has an impressive track record for creativity and business within the creative industries and the new board arrangements are a significant step to enhancing this further, both in the UK and globally.”
Global non-executive directors appointed to BBC Commercial Board
Current non-executive directors - academic and media policy expert Dame Elan Closs Stephens; former Sky plc Chief Commercial Officer and Chief Strategy Officer Mai Fyfield; and All3Media co-founder and former Chairman Steve Morrison - will be joined by newly appointed non-executive directors Bhav Singh and Gunjan Bhow. Bhav and Gunjan both bring significant global and digital experience, which will support the growth plans of BBC Studios.
Bhav Singh has a formidable consumer track record in digital media, education and technology, having led and scaled businesses internationally for ViacomCBS and Pearson. He is now the founder and Group CEO of the digital learning group Sandbox & Co. Gunjan Bhow is an international leader in digital transformation. Most recently Global Chief Digital Officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, he has also held senior leadership roles at The Walt Disney Studios and Amazon Prime Video.
Sir Damon adds: “I am delighted to welcome Gunjan and Bhav as new directors to the BBC Commercial Board. Gunjan’s experience of digital leadership and transformation and Bhav’s in-depth knowledge of consumer products and technology will be invaluable for the BBC’s next chapter of commercial ambition and growth. Serving alongside Elan, Mai and Steve, Bhav and Gunjan complete a compelling non-executive bench.”
The three executive directors on the BBC Commercial Board will be Leigh Tavaziva, Group Chief Operating Officer of the BBC; Tom Fussell, Chief Executive Officer of BBC Studios; and Lorraine Burgess, Chief Financial Officer of BBC Studios.
Driving commercial growth for the BBC
The new BBC Commercial Board composition reflects the scale of ambition and transformation in the BBC’s plans and will enable greater focus and faster decision-making.
It will build on the work of the BBC’s Commercial Holdings Board, chaired by Dame Elan Closs Stephens, which has been successful in driving growth and consolidation of the BBC’s commercial operations since the creation of BBC Studios as a commercial entity in 2018.
The new BBC Commercial Board will oversee the delivery of the Corporation’s commercial ambitions. It will report to the BBC Board on the delivery of BBC Studios’ objectives, in line with the BBC’s overall commercial strategy, and on BBC Studioworks.
Increasing commercial income is one of the BBC’s four key priorities, alongside a renewed commitment to impartiality, a focus on unique, high-impact content and extracting more value from online.
Richard Sharp, BBC Chairman, says: “Building the BBC’s commercial income is an essential part of providing brilliant programmes and services in the future.
“Through these changes we are harnessing increased external and independent expertise to support that aim and I’m delighted that Sir Damon Buffini has agreed to chair the new Board.”
Tim Davie, BBC Director-General, says: “We have ambitious growth plans for BBC Studios to increase financial returns very significantly.
“The new BBC Commercial Board brings further external insight to our commercial operation as we accelerate growth and, in turn, ensure the BBC can maximise value for licence fee payers.”
BBC Press Office
Notes To Editors
Full membership of the BBC Commercial Board will be:
- Sir Damon Buffini, Chairman, non-executive director and member of the BBC Board
- Dame Elan Closs Stephens, non-executive director and member of the BBC Board
- Gunjan Bhow, non-executive director
- Bhav Singh, non-executive director
- Steve Morrison, non-executive director
- Mai Fyfield, non-executive director
- Leigh Tavaziva, Group Chief Operating Officer, BBC
- Tom Fussell, Chief Executive Officer, BBC Studios
- Lorraine Burgess, Chief Financial Officer, BBC Studios
The BBC Commercial Board will come into effect on 1 April 2022. · In March 2021, the BBC outlined plans to build its commercial income with an ambitious financial returns target and the move of BBC Children’s Production and BBC Global News Ltd into BBC Studios.
In March 2021, the BBC outlined plans to build its commercial income with an ambitious financial returns target and the move of BBC Children’s Production and BBC Global News Ltd into BBC Studios.
Biographies of new BBC Commercial Directors
Sir Damon Buffini
Chairman of BBC Commercial and non-executive director of the BBC
Sir Damon Buffini was a founding partner of alternative asset manager Permira where he was Chairman and Managing Partner from 1997-2010. He remained a partner at Permira until the end of 2015, completing a 27 year a career with the firm.
In 2020 Damon was appointed as Chair of the £2bn Culture Recovery Fund which was granted and invested to ensure the survival and sustainability of the UK’s culturally significant organisations. Damon is also currently Chair of the Royal National Theatre. During his career Damon has served on many other boards including Hugo Boss AG; Wellcome Trust; the Royal Shakespeare Company and Schroders PLC.
Non-executive director, BBC Commercial
Gunjan Bhow has three decades of experience in digital media, e-commerce, and consumer businesses, gained at global organisations including Amazon, Microsoft, and Disney. Most recently, he was the Global Chief Digital Officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), with a presence in 25 countries and 410,000 employees. In this capacity, Bhow led the digital transformation of a $130bn global business spanning healthcare, pharmacy and retail.
Prior to WBA, Gunjan served as Senior Vice President and General Manager at The Walt Disney Company. In this role, he led strategy, incubation, and management of digital and mobile consumer businesses for the Walt Disney Studios globally. Prior to Disney, Gunjan was a leader in Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Studios.
Over his career, Gunjan has developed products, applications, and solutions used by over 150 million consumers globally. He has led the teams that developed category-defining products such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV stick.
Gunjan also serves as a non-executive director on the boards of Recreational Equipment, Inc., WideOpenWest, Inc., One Call Care Management, Inc., The Child Mind Institute, and Bupa.
Non-executive director, BBC Commercial
Bhav Singh has digitised, founded or built three businesses of scale in emerging and developed markets and has a strong consumer technology track record. He is the founder and Group CEO of Sandbox & Co, a leading digital learning company with 17 market-leading properties across the US, UK, Europe and Brazil, including CoolMathGames, Hopster and Playkids, reaching in excess of 60 million users each month.
Prior to founding Sandbox in 2015 Bhav worked as an ‘intrapreneur’ with large corporates. He built and scaled high growth businesses for Pearson globally and for ViacomCBS in the emerging markets. As President & CEO of Pearson English, Bhav transformed a legacy division into an integrated portfolio driven by subscription, software as a service, and direct retail through organic and M&A growth across China, Brazil, India, Germany, Indonesia and the US.
Prior to Pearson, Bhav spent eight years at ViacomCBS as Managing Director and EVP of the emerging markets group, rapidly scaling brands including MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central into strong positions across India, Central Europe, Russia, Middle East and Africa. Bhav has also held senior roles across digital, general management and business development with Manchester United, IMG and Discovery Communications.
Bhav serves as an independent non-executive director for GB Group PLC and is a member of the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader.