The mission statement of his prospective new employer — “to satisfy curiosity” — resonated with him, as his parents had been teachers, says Pamplin College of Business alumnus James Rosenstock, in recalling a big career move in 2007. But it didn’t hurt, he adds, that the company — Discovery Communications — also owned three of his favorite TV networks.
Rosenstock, who earned a bachelor’s degree in finance in 1995, joined Discovery as a senior vice president, in charge of global mergers and acquisitions, corporate strategy, and new business development, and part of a new management team that would help the company go public in 2008.
He was promoted last year to the newly created position of president of Discovery Education International, to lead international growth strategy of the company’s fast-growing education division.
Rosenstock says Discovery is “unparalleled” as a global brand. “It’s the world’s number one nonfiction media company, with brands in 220 countries and territories and 190 television networks worldwide that truly inspire people’s curiosity about the world around them.
“When we went public in 2008, we had an $8-billion valuation; today our valuation is nearly $30 billion. We’ve made our U.S. channels stronger and have significantly diversified the company internationally and digitally.”
The company also has a “fantastic culture that’s very young and innovative,” he says, citing its listing on the 2014 FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For.”
Now based at Discovery’s London office, Rosenstock says his priorities are to expand its international education business.
Rosenstock’s career path hasn’t strayed from the world of media and entertainment since he left his first job out of college, at Bank of America in his hometown of Richmond, Va., after two years. Deciding it would be smart to develop expertise in an industry sector, he moved to Los Angeles to join a boutique investment bank specializing in the entertainment, media, and communications industries that was co-founded by fellow Hokie Stephen Bannon.
He worked in investment banking for eight years, the last three at Credit Suisse in New York. In 2002, an opportunity to switch gears beckoned, and he became Sony Corporation of America’s vice president of corporate development, in charge of growth investments for the company’s electronics, gaming, and entertainment assets.
Since moving to Discovery, Rosenstock has helped expand its international operations through investments in broadcast companies in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia.
He led the company’s two largest acquisitions — SBS Nordic, the leading Nordic broadcast group, in 2012 and Eurosport, a pan-European sports network, in 2013. He also led Discovery’s investment in brain-training company Lumosity and the launch of several joint-venture pay channels, including the child-oriented Hub Network (with Hasbro) and the high-profile OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.
Learn more about Rosenstock, including his thoughts on what’s ahead for media and entertainment companies and the many ways he supports finance education at Virginia Tech, in Pamplin’s spring 2014 magazine, Virginia Tech Business.
Students view a video incorporated in Discovery Education’s Streaming Plus, a collection of more than 155,000 standards-aligned digital resources. Photo courtesy of Discovery Communications.