Oak View Group has hired Kristina Heney in the new position of executive vice president of Marketing, Media & Conferences. Heney – who assumes the new role immediately and is based in New York – will become the head of OVG marketing and communications, as well as taking on leadership of the company’s media and conferences division, which includes Pollstar and sister publication VenuesNow. She reports to Francesca Bodie, president, business development, and Chris Granger, president, OVG360.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining Oak View Group at such an amazing time in its growth story. I’m personally inspired by the mission of Oak View Group. When Tim [Leiweke] and Irving [Azoff] founded the company [in 2015] it was on a mission of positive disruption, which as a marketer really speaks to me: The idea that we can constantly evolve and evolve with what our consumers and our clients are looking for and hopefully even stay ahead of where so that we can guide. And, continue to be the leader in the industry as the company has really become in the last couple years,” Heney told Pollstar.
“In terms of philosophy, I really [identify] with the idea of positive disruption; the idea of evolving and constantly reevaluating yourself in terms of your goals and where you need to be next. The idea is still the North Star. Over eight years a lot has been accomplished and as the leadership sets the goals for the next eight years, the opportunity to evolve what Oak View Group means is really why I jumped on board at this time. And I think Oak View Group has such deeply instilled values of diversity, sustainability, this idea of constant evolution and change, that it can really continue to be a positive force in the industry, and certainly how we intend to really evolve our storytelling.”
Heney has more than 25 years of experience as a C-suite executive. She was most recently the chief marketing and revenue officer at City Experiences, a global travel experiential company. Her resume includes 15 years with Madison Square Garden Entertainment as SVP of marketing, sales & revenue management for all concerts, productions, and family attractions at MSG-owned properties, as well as serving as chief marketing & experience officer for Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group from 2015-2020 “where she led the global branding, marketing, communications, and performance for Cirque du Soleil’s portfolio of 10 brands across 65 countries and 15 million guests.” She also worked for the National Basketball Association (NBA) “as senior manager of Global Merchandising Group managing the NBA, WNBA, and USA Basketball global collectibles categories.”
Heney says that working at the NBA right out of college taught her the most important lesson of her career: “which it’s all about the fan. The brand is nothing without this connection to fans.”
She adds, “And I actually learned it most when the NBA was weakest, during a lockout. It was my first two years there and we went into the lockout and all the conversations were about what do we do for the fans? And that stayed with me going to Madison Square Garden, where I mostly worked on the concert side and family shows. It was still a great North Star to make decisions … And then the same thing at Cirque du Soleil. Even more so there, where it was about how do we bring Cirque du Soleil off the stage and connect at a very elemental level? We started showing artists training and making mistakes, even (laughs) and just learning new routines and that type of relatability, again, goes back to the fans. The fans are what makes us.”
Looking ahead, Heney notes that “working with Chris and Francesca, we set out some early goals” including ensuring OVG’s brands and our brand values are represented in all of the marketing and messaging, leveraging data and insights, and growing the diversity of content of media and conferences and international conferences.
Heney’s accolades include being recognized by Forbes CMO Next 2019 and New York’s Most Influential Women in Marketing 2019 (Agency Spotters). She served as a Clio Juror for the Live Entertainment Category and is a founding member of CHIEF, a women’s leadership member organization.
“We are thrilled to welcome Kristina to the OVG Family,” Bodie said in a statement released by OVG Sept. 26. “She has demonstrated success in working with global sports and entertainment brands and approaching opportunities with a balance of creativity, and data science and analytics. With her deep understanding of the live events and experiential industry, we are confident Kristina can continue our substantial growth momentum while transforming the OVG brand story and our Media and Conferences Division to support OVG and our growth vision.”
OVG, the global venue development, advisory, and investment company for the sports and live entertainment industries, has eight divisions across five offices including Los Angeles, New York, London, Philadelphia, and Toronto.
The company’s arenas include Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center; UBS Arena in Belmont Park, New York; Moody Center in Austin, Texas; Acrisure Arena in Greater Palm Springs, California; and CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore; as well as arena development projects for Co-op Live in Manchester, UK; Anhembi Arena in São Paulo, Brazil; FirstOntario Centre Arena in Hamilton, Ontario; a new arena and entertainment district in Las Vegas and new arenas in Cardiff, Wales, and Vienna, Austria.
As a full-service venue management, hospitality solutions, and venue services company, OVG360 services more than 400 arenas, stadiums, performing arts centers, culture institutions, and convention centers worldwide.