CAA Ups James Burtson To President, Names Carol Sawdye CFO


Creative Artists Agency has expanded its leadership ranks with the promotion of Chief Financial Officer James Burtson to President. His former position will be filled by former PwC Chief Operating Officer Carol Sawdye. Past CAA President Richard Lovett, along with Kevin Huvane and Bryan Lourd, will continue in his role as CAA co-chairman.

The move is said to be part of CAA’s efforts in the last year to increase diversity with the formation of the gender-balanced CAA Board that is responsible for day-to-day management of the agency. To that end, CAA in the last year has hired other key leaders, including Dr. Sharoni Little as Head of Global Inclusion Strategy and Tyrone Bland to lead U.S. Government Affairs.
“The primary role of CAA President is understanding that leading is actually serving, and throughout his tenure with CAA, Jim has been tireless in his pursuit of furthering the company’s interests,” Lovett said in a statement. “He is a world-class leader with profound insight into the opportunities ahead as the media, sports and technology landscapes, and CAA itself, continue to evolve. Jim has been an essential partner to us in every way since the day he joined five years ago, helping drive the tremendous growth of our diversified and global platform. His genuine, collaborative nature, high regard among colleagues, and deep connection to our client-focused purpose, position him and CAA for even greater success in the years ahead.”
James Burtson
Courtesy of CAA
– James Burtson

Burtson joined CAA as CFO in 2015 from Time Warner, Inc., where he oversaw the company’s global mergers and acquisitions efforts, and previously the company’s Investor Relations efforts. Prior to rejoining Time Warner in 2002, Burtson worked at Clear Channel Communications, where he served as senior vice president of strategic development and CFO of the company’s online business. Burtson previously worked for J.P. Morgan & Co. as an investment banker and
began his career at Time Warner as a financial analyst in corporate finance and M&A.
“In an ever more global and complex environment, there has never been more demand for CAA’s insight and services.  We will continue to invest in expanding our capabilities and operations to meet the challenges of the changing business landscape while creating and capturing broader opportunities for our clients and partners,” said Burtson.  “I am thrilled to play a larger role, alongside the entire leadership team, to chart the agency’s future for everyone at
CAA as well as our clients at this transformational moment in our business.”
In Sawdye’s COO role at PwC, she led the global network operations team, driving the budgeting, financial planning and investments processes across its network of more than 284,000 people in 155 countries. She began her career at PwC, spending 17 years in its media and entertainment practice before serving as COO of global law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and later CFO and Executive Vice President of the National Basketball Association.
Carol Sawdye
Courtesy of CAA
– Carol Sawdye

“Carol brings a wealth of strategic, financial and operational experience, coupled with a deep understanding of what it means to lead in a global service organization. I have every confidence that she will be an invaluable colleague and partner in ensuring that our momentum for the company and clients continues long into the future,” said Burtson.
Sawdye remarked on her new role: “CAA’s founding culture of succeeding as a team, for clients and the business, consistent market leadership, deeply talented and welcoming management team, and commitment to innovation across its broad lines of business drew me to this unique and exceptionally compelling opportunity. I have also long admired CAA’s deep passion for the representation of their clients by the entirety of the firm, and look forward to playing a role in the agency’s global growth and continued success.”
In addition to overseeing Sawdye and her management of CAA’s financial operations, Burtson will lead the company’s strategy for the growth and evolution of CAA’s representation business and the continued diversification of the company. His priorities will include the company’s investment in existing and new business initiatives, while continuing to have primary oversight for, and represent CAA on the boards of, Entertainment Benefits Group (EBG), CAA China,
CAA-Global Brands Group, and Connect Ventures, the agency’s recently launched early-stage consumer investment joint venture with New Enterprise Associates.