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Kim (Meale) Williams

Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Burbank, California, USA

Tell us about your current role and responsibilities.

I am the EVP and CFO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, responsible for all financial activities of the company, financial planning and reporting, and setting the financial agenda for the studio. 


Why did you choose Thunderbird?  

The summer before 9th grade my family moved to Milan, Italy, where I went to high school. That experience sparked my interest in all things international. My decision to pursue a double major in Japanese and Asian Studies in college--and spending my junior year abroad in Japan--would have never happened had it not been for that experience. I knew then that I wanted to live and work abroad. So, while at Connecticut College, and ironically while waiting to speak to someone in the career planning office the second semester of my senior year, I saw an ad for Thunderbird. I applied as an undergraduate and started a year later.


How has your Thunderbird experience played a role in your career?

After graduating from Thunderbird, I went to work for GE in London. Though convinced working for a big company was of little interest to me, I took the job because it gave me the opportunity to get back abroad. My cultural sensitivities and experiences outside of a professional environment was a primary impetus for my hire and, despite my point of view on big companies, I stayed with GE for over a decade working in Europe for five plus years and then returning to the US to work for NBC for about five and a half years. Following my time at GE I joined the NFL, serving first as CFO for the League and then as COO for the NFL Network. I came to Warner Bros. in 2015, a company that earns over 50% of its revenues outside the US. 

My Thunderbird education and experience helped me embark on a career that I could have never planned and to be open to opportunities that I might not otherwise have been exposed to. I look back now and realize how thankful I am for such an amazing and fun career … a career that was never intended or envisioned.


How has being a T-bird affected your personal life? 

One of my closest friends today also went to Thunderbird, though we did not meet until long after graduation. By the way, she is married to a T-bird too. 


What does the Thunderbird mystique mean to you?

It strikes me that when I talk about Thunderbird to people who may not know about the school, it elicits a response along the lines of, “That’s a different way than most people talk about graduate schools.” There is a connective tissue that Thunderbird creates between those who attend the school - the shared interests in all things global - a global fascination. It’s something above and beyond pursuing academic credentials. It is more than reputation or function. The connective tissue is experiential. It’s a reflection of who T-birds are as people.


What advice would you give current Thunderbird graduates?

Be mindful of what makes Thunderbird special. You aren’t just getting a degree from a secondary institution -- the mindfulness around that notion is important. If you are cognizant of it, you take away something deeper.

There is a connective tissue that Thunderbird creates. It’s something above and beyond pursuing academic credentials. It is more than reputation or function. The connective tissue is experiential. It’s a reflection of who T-birds are as people.

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