Founder and Managing Partner
Joanna is the founder of Mission Bay Limited. As one of the UK’s leading media head-hunters, she is known for her deep experience in the media industry as both an executive and in talent solutions. Her search career began in 2004 when she launched the London office of a US based media search boutique and then later led the media division of Whitehead Mann, subsequently Korn Ferry International London, post-acquisition.
Before embarking on her search career, Joanna was at Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment for four years working across a wide range of commercial activities and projects. She also spent seven years with Hasbro Inc., as global Senior Vice President of Visual Media and Head of International Licensing consecutively. Joanna began her career as an intellectual property lawyer in the U.K. and New Zealand. She has an LLB (hons) from the University of Auckland and an LLM from the University of Cambridge and is currently studying for a B.Sc. in Psychology.
Her career is characterised by its internationalism, versatility and trusted professionalism with clients and candidates alike.
Joanna is a Governor of Westminster Great School and Westminster Under School and a Fellow of the RSA.Close
Since starting in executive search in 2011 John has successfully delivered a range of senior recruitment assignments across the media industry. Roles worked on have included CEO and CCO positions and clients have ranged across broadcasters, production companies, creative agencies, media owners and global brands. Assignments have included work in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.
Prior to starting in executive search John’s own career spanned more than 25 years in UK production and broadcasting. Following four years working on music videos for artists including Elton John, Tina Turner, Queen, Def Leppard, Spandau Ballet and the Thompson Twins, he joined the team at MTV Europe prior to its launch in 1986. This was followed by six years with Sky Television where John sat on the senior management team with responsibility for the film channels. John went on to accept roles as Director of Programming for the launch of the Disney Channel and then the FilmFour channel before joining the BBC as Controller of the UKTV channels in 2001. He left the role of Acting CEO of UKTV in 2007 in order to train and practice as an executive coach, moving into search in 2011.
This deep operational experience coupled with time spent working as an executive coach gives John and therefore Mission Bay Limited an innovative and consultative approach in assisting media companies identify and hire the best senior talent from around the world.Close
Tony works with Mission Bay Ltd in a range of capacities, advising and consulting on various projects.
Most recently he was Managing Director UK and Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry Whitehead Mann. Prior to this position, he served as Managing Partner of Spencer Stuart, heading the U.K. business. Additionally, he was also the global/European leader of the firm’s technology, media & telecommunications practice for ten years.
Tony has conducted executive searches and succession planning projects for CEOs in the U.K., Continental Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, the U.S., Canada, Australia/New Zealand and Southeast Asia. He also has led many searches for chairmen and non-executive board members of both large public corporations and pre-IPO, venture capital or private equity-backed businesses, where he is often called upon to give advice based on his in-depth experience with corporate governance and leadership structures.
Before entering executive search, he spent ten years with British Telecommunications in the U.K. and the U.S. as executive vice president of British Telecom Inc. in New York, group director of corporate strategy, and managing director of cable television and broadband services. Earlier in his career, he was a corporate financial analyst for the U.K. Post Office Corporation, working on the spin-off and IPO of their telecoms business and the establishment of the U.K. telecoms regulatory regime. Previously, he was a systems analyst and project manager for Systemes Informatiques et Analytiques, a French-owned IT services company.
He is a member of the U.K. Committee of the Global Association of Executive Search Consultants.
Tony is a psychology graduate with a master’s degree in business administration from the London Business School. He is a chartered management accountant and a fellow of the U.K.’s Royal Society of Arts.Close
Head of Operations
Sarah runs all the business operations at MBL and works closely with the team to deliver the MBL assignments. Sarah has twenty years’ experience in the media space.
Beginning her career at 19 within the publicity department of Penguin, Sarah moved to the Film & TV department to help expand Penguin’s burgeoning licensing business. After a long and happy career, she moved to work on the merchandising and licensing activities at 19 Entertainment and then as Category Manager at Warner Bros.
She has an especial strength in the world of publishing.Close
George has worked in executive search since 2003 and joined Mission Bay in 2016, bringing experience from a range of different businesses. With a strong track record of successful senior appointments across a range of industries he has broad sector knowledge and a diverse network, coupled with an excellent understanding of the search process across the public and private sectors.
His career in search began with a leading international executive search firm where he delivered on senior finance and general management roles across the UK. Following this he spent some time at a specialist US fashion executive search business where he focused on senior appointments across EMEA. Latterly he was engaged by a growing boutique where he was responsible for delivering mandates across a range of international Technology, Media and Telecoms clients.
Before starting in search he spent some time working in the finance department of Coffee Republic. He has a BSc (Hons) in Economics & Management from the London School of EconomicsClose
Franca Virgili is an accomplished search consultant who has worked within the Executive Search community, in the US and overseas, for over 25 years. She began her career in executive recruitment in Italy, her native country, where she worked for almost a decade with a local executive search firm (I.C. Interconsult). There, she progressed from a researcher role to the position of Partner, working primarily with American multi-national corporations and solving their executive recruitment needs both in Italy and Europe. This enabled Franca to gain an international dimension, developing an expertise in the execution of “cross-country” search assignments.
In 1994, Franca permanently moved to the United States, opening the Los Angeles office of one of the major executive search firms in the country, TASA/Johnson Smith & Knisely. Since then, she has specialized in the Traditional and New Media, Entertainment, Information, and Communications industries, working with a broad client base which includes large scale multi-national corporations as well as start-ups and portfolio businesses of venture capital and private equity firms.
In 1999, Franca was one of the founding partners of The Cheyenne Group, a retained boutique executive search and management consulting firm specialized in the Media, Entertainment & Information industries, with emphasis on content-driven businesses across both traditional and new distribution platforms. Based in Los Angeles, she ran the company’s West Coast operations advising client companies in the areas of executive recruiting, talent acquisition, mapping and assessment, organizational design and development, industry research and intelligence. Since March of 2015, Franca has been continuing to work as an independent executive search and HR consultant based in Los Angeles, and works with Mission Bay regularly on a wide range of assignments – from locally based to global projects.
Franca holds a Master Degree in American Literature from the University of Rome and speaks English, Italian and Spanish fluently.Close
Serena is a Consultant to Mission Bay, and has a background in the technology space with a strong emphasis on digital and online media. Her search career began in her native Australia, with Heidrick & Struggles, and her experience in the executive search industry extended to Europe on her move to the UK in 2008. Prior to Mission Bay she worked with an international search firm placing senior executive for VC and private equity backed technology and digital businesses.
As with the Mission Bay team, Serena has had a career in industry as well, having worked in marketing for a US software company. Serena graduated with a Bachelor of Business degree from a University in Australia. A keen traveller, she also spent two years in South America, heavily involved in charity work.
Now based in Turkey, Serena also has a specific focus on the CEEMEA region.Close
Maya is a consultant with Mission Bay, and has over twenty years’ experience in the media space with a strong licensing and publishing bias.
Maya started her career at Penguin Books, where she worked for 12 happy years and headed up the film and TV department, working with high profile authors, all the major broadcasters, film distributors and licensors across children’s and adults.
She then joined Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment, where she worked for 8 years as Head of Licensing, across a wide range of commercial activities for artists and brands including American Idol, David and Victoria Beckham.
She then spent two years at Shine, a leading TV production company, as Commercial Manager and is currently also consulting for Scholastic Books.Close
Head of Research and Managing Director of Research Europe
Stephen and his team at Research Europe support Mission Bay Ltd in many ways, principally in research services on assignments.
Stephen established Research Europe in 2002. He has 20 years executive search experience, including managing multi-sector research teams at two London-based executive search companies, and delivering senior-level searches across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Stephen has an MA from Cambridge University.Close
Having previously worked in publishing, Sacha joined Mission Bay to support the team in all areas of research. Sacha has a First Class BA in Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology from Newcastle University.Close
Chris works with the Mission Bay team and clients advising on searches in all areas of digital rights, assets and platforms. He is also a very keen gamer, attends conferences and competitions globally and is currently completing an M.Sc in Computer Science at City University, London.Close