Executive V.P., Affiliate Marketing & Business Development, Home Box Office Inc., New York, N.Y.
As executive vice president of affiliate marketing at Home Box Office Inc., Olivia Smashum is the highest-ranking African-American at the television-programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. She oversees all HBO and Cinemax acquisition and retention, marketing and market research efforts, as well as branding and new business opportunities created by new technologies. Target marketing and pursuing new business opportunities for HBO and Cinemax On Demand round out her duties.
“What means most to me are the diversity initiatives I’ve been allowed to develop within the creative community. The idea behind these initiatives goes back to what I learned early in life—give encouragement and give back by paving the way for others to achieve their dreams,” Smashum says. Those initiatives include support of the Black Filmmakers Foundation, the Film Life and HBO American Black Film Festival and the New York International Latino Film Festival.
Smashum holds a bachelor’s degree from Hampton University and a master’s degree in marketing and finance from Columbia University’s School of Business. She joined HBO in 1980 as an associate marketing manager, with responsibility for managing preview campaigns. In her 20 years at the company, she has been involved in virtually all areas of marketing. “I’ve spent most of my career at HBO and, like the company, I’ve grown professionally and have been allowed to be innovative and forward thinking,” she says. Empowering the next generation is part of that forward thinking. “If I had unlimited time and money I would start a production company or small studio that would focus on minority talent in front of and behind the camera,” she says.
While she has received numerous professional honors, she is most proud of her Time Warner Chairman’s Award for Diversity. “It’s a leadership award that I gladly share with my talented marketing staff. Without them there would be no partnerships that allow for the exchange of ideas or bring awareness to issues affecting minorities in the entertainment business,” she says.