By: Anthony De La Rosa

When I was approached about joining Entertainment Partners (EP), I had initial reservations. I knew I had the subject matter expertise, but I wondered if I had the kind of leadership skills it would take to lead a department of this magnitude. I had been managing five employees as SVP at Lionsgate. When I joined EP as EVP of Residuals in June of 2017, I became responsible for a team of 100.

I accepted the role for three reasons. First, I wanted to support and make a meaningful impact on the industry. Secondly, I was excited that I would be able to move the company forward while driving the business and impact a significant portion of EP’s revenue. Lastly, I saw the opportunity as a chance to truly grow on a personal level. Much of my success would depend on embracing the intricacies of technology, finance, legal, and other disciplines where I had thus far only scratched the surface. Not unlike attempting to master my favorite personal pastimes—surfing, spearfishing, diving—I knew this position would take me far beyond my professional comfort zone.  

When I first arrived at EP, I met individually with every single person on my team over the course of six months. I knew that I had to earn their respect through understanding and trust, so I did my best to create an open, collegial atmosphere. I asked a ton of questions; I really wanted to connect with each one of them. What were their experiences at EP? What was working and more importantly, what wasn’t?  What were their personal pain points? How could we do better? Sometimes things got personal, which was okay—we were getting to know each other as professionals, and as people. I learned 100 different stories, and so many ideas and proposed solutions.

As I had these conversations with my team, I saw an opportunity to rebuild the department from the ground up. I knew myself and how historically I preferred to operate fast. I’ve always been someone who — just like in surfing where I quickly tried to catch that wave — tended to make critical decisions and then run for the goal. With this re-org, however, I implemented a highly methodical progression. Transforming Residuals at EP would happen one crucial step at a time over the course of an entire year.

Our reorganization has been major, moving us to a team-based approach, emphasizing efficiency improvements across the board. Certain processes that once took 80 hours, now only took eight.  We’re also partnering more closely with our clients to standardize and enhance their overall experience. Emails and voicemails have given way to meaningful and impactful in-person client meetings. We’ve broken down walls, and are sparking engagement.

I truly believe that there is a fundamental difference between being a boss and being a leader. If you develop your people, the results will come. By its nature, residuals is complex, which is why context is important to fully appreciate this nuanced area of payroll. I consider it imperative that I’m not only showing my teams the “how,” but also the “why.”  This is especially important considering that so many top people with deep institutional knowledge are approaching retirement. Part of my passion and long-term goal is to educate and create EP residuals ambassadors. Whether they stay here for their careers, or take what they’ve learned to a studio, it’s important to me that they imbue their knowledge to others.

It’s been 15 months since I walked through EP’s doors and I couldn’t be happier or more hopeful. We’re still feeling the transition, and there have been setbacks of course, but I see small (and sometimes large) improvements every day. I’ve surrounded myself with a hard-nosed, critically thinking leadership team and I’ve learned when to let go of the reigns. We have a team of people who want to collaborate, work hard, and celebrate victories.

This past year has been both humbling and rewarding. I’ve watched myself stretch and grow in ways I never would have thought possible. It’s been the challenge of a lifetime, but I’ve never doubted my decision to move to EP for a split second.

Perhaps most importantly through this journey, I’ve learned that I need my people every bit as much as they need me.

Anthony De La Rosa is Executive Vice President of Residuals Services.