CSUF accounting and finance alumna Passang Baro ’13 works in the Financial Contract Reporting Administration of Burbank-based entertainment giant Warner Bros. She provides an inside look at her role and business-related positions in the entertainment industry, along with how to get started in the ever-changing field.
As a senior at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, Passang Baro ’13 took a six-month internship at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, part of the Disney College Program. The opportunity would launch the young professional into a career utilizing her accounting and finance education in the Southern California entertainment industry.
After being referred by a former supervisor to an auditor role at SAG-AFTRA, the labor union representing 160,000 film and television actors, artists and related employees, she accepted the position, later moving up to a senior auditor role.
“It was during my time at SAG-AFTRA that I became intrigued by the entertainment industry and wanted to dive deeper into entertainment finance,” says Baro. “When I came across my current role at Warner Bros., I immediately decided to give it a shot. I had only conducted compliance audits on behalf of labor unions, and participations audits would be a new world for me. However, I knew I had the transferable skills, so I was confident I could adapt and be successful in this new role.”
After more than 16 months as senior analyst for financial contract reporting administration audit and litigation at Warner Bros., Baro enjoys her duties, which include timely execution of fieldwork procedures, analyzing audit claims, and reviewing and making sense of long form legal agreements.
“What I enjoy most about my role is how different each audit is and the opportunity to always learn something new with each one. The work is never repetitive,” she says. “Additionally, my department provides a unique opportunity to learn about many aspects of the entertainment business – from production and initial film release through all downstream channels of distribution. The most challenging part of my job is working with outside auditors with opposing views and trying to meet in the middle. However, it is also very interesting to hear their viewpoints and interpretations of agreements.”
Succeeding in the Entertainment Industry of the Digital Age
With the entrance of digital competitors such as Netflix and Amazon Studios, supplemented by the ubiquity of mobile technology, long-time names in the entertainment industry, such as Warner Bros., have been adapting to a new landscape fitting today’s consumers.
“Studios are producing new content at a faster rate than ever before and direct-to-consumer content is also on the rise,” says Baro. “But even with the new players in the market, Warner Bros. is leading the industry in the creation of premium content because they are committed to partnering with top talent to tell stories that appeal to a global audience.”
Baro points to the immense library of content that Warner Bros. possesses, beloved recent shows and films such as “Friends,” “Big Bang Theory” and “Harry Potter,” as well as extending through all eras of the past nine decades in the development of modern motion pictures, as a major competitive advantage for the firm.
“Entrants to the field should be aware of the constant change in consumer taste,” says Baro. “To compete, they need to bring fresh ideas and stories from different perspectives and all walks of life. This is why I believe diversity and representation is essential.”
When searching for opportunities in the entertainment industry, Baro encourages applicants to consider her employer. “Warner Bros. is a great company to work for because they encourage employees to learn and refine their soft and hard skills by providing workshops and access to a learning network,” she says. “They also provide great perks such as employee movie screenings, an on-site gym and business resource groups that allow individuals to participate in activities with people of similar interests.”
Using a Business Education to Launch a Warner Bros. Career
Looking back on her days at Mihaylo College, Baro sees her audit coursework as most impactful to her, prompting her to choose that function as her career path.
But she also points to her coursework in Microsoft Excel as essential.
“This course helped me sharpen my Excel skills because I had to build a customer ribbon tab using Visual Basic for Applications,” she recalls. “It was a fascinating project and I still apply what I learned in that course to real-life projects.”
To the Future
Looking ahead five years, Baro still sees herself at Warner Bros., taking advantage of the company’s opportunities for employee growth and upward mobility.
“I definitely see myself in the finance field, taking on more challenges and making a greater impact,” she says. “I plan to change roles when I feel the learning has paused. I’ve always believed in being open to new opportunities because you never know where it will lead you.”
For More Information
For more on careers in the entertainment and hospitality space, one of the leading industries in Orange County, visit the Center for Entertainment and Hospitality Management online. Or read more of our articles on these career paths and ways to get started in the field.