At PBS, find a “dream” and create inspiration

When Sylvia Bugg, EMBA ’12, first applied for an Administrative Assistant position at PBS in the early ’90s, she was thrilled to join an organization that had supported and disseminated so much important content. “It was a dream,” she said, looking back.

Today, she is the Managing Director of Programming for PBS and Managing Director of Consumer Programming, playing a vital role in the broadcaster’s mission.

In September, Bugg unveiled a compelling collection of fall programming, a line it says will continue to build on PBS’s legacy of trust and deliver educational, informative and inspiring content.

The programming is shaped, in part, by the events of the past two years – the COVID-19 pandemic, a national racial calculation, cultural shifts and growing conversations about the climate crisis and the future of American democracy. “It was really important for us to think about how our platform could lend itself to these very important areas. We will continue to focus on these important issues as we seek to expand the platforms, ”she said.

“We’re always working to amplify our efforts in the diversity space with more diverse storytellers and more diverse perspectives and compelling themes,” Bugg said. “Over the past 18+ months, I’ve felt there is a unique opportunity for us to look at some specific things to help amplify the content that already exists on our platforms.”

Bugg is dedicated to focusing on the issues that Americans really care about, such as climate change, health and wellness, the arts, social justice. She wants to deepen the conversations that have arisen on topics such as racial calculation, cultural change and democracy.

“We thought it was really important to think about how our content might lend itself to some of these really important areas,” Bugg said. “We will continue to focus on some of these key areas going forward as we look for ways to expand our platforms where our content is available. “

She ensures that PBS provides professional development and mentoring opportunities for filmmakers from diverse backgrounds, with various new initiatives, including a program with Firelight Media that emphasizes regional diversity and diverse creators. In PBS’s digital studio space, a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting helps invest in PBS’s Regional Diversity Innovation Centers.

Bugg describes herself as a lifelong learner – never one to shy away from difficult subjects. These topics are the places where growth can be found, she says.

She says Smith prepared her for her current role by teaching her leadership and research skills, as well as teaching her how to think media in a smarter way.

In her role, she oversees programming and a team that liaises with over 130 PBS member stations, finding ways to align with events, lineup and overall engagement.

“You have to know the business part of the job we do, whether it’s how you think about negotiating the rights or a distribution package or taking a good idea through the marketing and strategy process. public engagement, ”she said. “The MBA experience has really equipped me in these areas.”

It also helped her become a stronger leader and coach. “These things were instrumental in my growth, and I’m grateful to have had those experiences as well,” she says.

Bugg says she encourages the professionals she mentors to adopt a lifelong learner mindset. “There is always room for all of us to learn, grow and develop,” she says. “This larger ecosystem is changing so rapidly. It is important to be able to constantly think about what tools you need to give yourself more knowledge.

As a woman in the business world, she says it’s important to build and keep a reliable network going. She often wonders what she can do to help the next generation succeed – and strives to be a sponsor, as well as a mentor, someone who will stand up for the names of others when they’re not in. the room.

She encourages and practices intentionality and self-care. “One of the lessons I learned this year was to try to avoid fatigue and burnout. We’re always talking about hitting that wall where you can’t do anything else, but the moment you realize you’ve hit that wall, you’ve got so much more to do, ”Bugg said. “Taking care of yourself is a great leadership skill to have. It’s so important to our general well-being and our mental health. “

This is what keeps her inspired and motivated. Today, Bugg says she takes pride in PBS’s overall range of content, especially that of its new channel, Voices, which helps highlight diverse perspectives. The programming can be viewed in broadcast as well as digitally on the PBS Studios YouTube Channel.

–By Erica Spaeth. Spaeth is a 2023 MBA candidate and a Forté and Smith Fellow. Originally from Potomac, MD, Spaeth worked in digital marketing, publishing, and most recently operations management, which led her to come to Maryland Smith.

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