Superna Kalle knew early on in her career that she wanted to work in international television and that is exactly where she has ended up as Senior Vice President, International Networks, of Sony Pictures Television. She currently oversees all channels in India to ensure profitability and establish overall business priorities and new initiatives for the channels in the region.
On the domestic front, Kalle also works on expanding the portfolio of Indian channels and content across multiple distribution platforms in the United States. Like any other region in the world, India’s Media and Entertainment Industry faces the same global economic difficulties.
Additionally, growth in the Indian television industry has led to fragmentation offering up another challenge to programmers. Superna credits her speak Hindi and really understanding the culture helps a lot.
“There’s a real shorthand when you can translate both the language and the culture”.
Superna was named to the 2009 Korn/Ferry International’s list of the 25 Most Influential South Asians in the US Entertainment and Media Industry.
ASIANCE: Tell us a little bit about your background and where you grew up?
Superna: I was born in India and grew up in Canada and the United States (Montreal, Wisconsin, Syracuse, Rockland County, NY)
ASIANCE: Did Indian culture play a big part in your upbringing or was it more Americanized?
Superna: Very much so. My parents spoke a mixture of Hindi and English at home. They had mostly Indian friends and I grew up in a tight circle of Punjabis. We went to India every few years for months at a time so I had a close connection to my huge extended family there too.
ASIANCE: Did your parents accept your chose field?
Superna: Yes, very much. They are very amused that my cultural heritage and language skills play a part in my career on a daily basis.
ASIANCE: What advice would you give women who would like to get a job at Sony Pictures?
Superna: An MBA is a great way to start, then NETWORKING NETWORKING NETWORKING.
ASIANCE: What was your career path that brought you to your current position?
Superna: I received my MBA from Stern and was actually lucky enough to be recruited by Sony Pictures right out of business school to join their Corporate Development group. After about five years there, I got a bit restless. I went to one of our operating executives and told him I was considering a move into the operations side of the business. I got a call about an opportunity to move into our channels group to work on Indian channels the very next day. I’ve always loved the channels side of the business, and working with India was just a great bonus.
ASIANCE: What does your job entail?
Superna: I look after our cable channels in India (we have five) and I look after our US cable channels which are small at the moment, but we are hoping to grow them in the near future.
I also think spending a year abroad is always a good thing. Spend time in a country that is as far away as your heritage as possible.
ASIANCE: What is a typical day like for you?
Superna: Every day is different. I work closely with the very talented and entrepreneurial management of each of our channels in the market, as well as with the functional experts that we have here in Los Angeles. I help coordinate the teams, define and implement strategic and financial objectives.
ASIANCE: Do you recommend any new area of study for college students? A subject they should be educated in?
Superna: I think the fundamentals of most non-creative jobs in entertainment requires a strong background in finance. I also think spending a year abroad is always a good thing. Spend time in a country that is as far away as your heritage as possible.
ASIANCE: Did you have a mentor?
Superna: I have several informal mentors that I call upon from time to time– some really great men and women I’ve met over the years.
ASIANCE: Are there many other Asian Women in the company? Were Asian American women mentors to you?
Superna: Yes, there are other Asian women in the company and they have been very supportive.
ASIANCE: What do you do on your time off?
Superna: Time off is really spent with my family – husband and two small kids. We live near the beach and we try to get there as much as possible.
ASIANCE: Anything interesting about you that you would like to share? Something you did as a child?
Superna: Well, a good deal of my job now entails travel to India as well as understanding the culture – both things that being an Indian-American has prepared me for quite well! My parents still get a kick out of the fact that my heritage plays such a large part in my career now. This was never planned by the way, it just happened.
ASIANCE: Do you follow any other Asian American women’s career?
Superna: I follow Roma Khanna’s career as her job is similar to mine (also recently profiled in your magazine). I’ve not met her but plan to ring her up someday soon and meet her.