2021 BC CFO Awards: Barb Harwood

CFO helps pave the way for multiple acquisitions and major partnerships

Barb Harwood, CFO, Thunderbird Entertainment Inc.

Barb Harwood, CFO, Thunderbird Entertainment Inc.

Barb Harwood has earned an industry-wide reputation for her commitments to integrity, accountability and financial leadership.

She was critical to positioning Thunderbird Entertainment for the reverse takeover when it went public in 2018 by scaling infrastructure, expanding the finance team and developing viable models to address all financial requirements.

She has since been integral in the company’s expansion strategies, including the  acquisition of Great Pacific Media and Atomic Cartoons, the company’s two main drivers of factual and animation content.

She has also led the financial oversight of multiple strategic expansions, including the opening of a new animation studio in Ottawa (2018), a third animation studio (2020) and a distribution and consumer products division (2021) in Los Angeles.

Harwood has also been integral to securing more than $150 million in production financing for more than 30 productions in the last three years.

Under Harwood’s financial stewardship, Thunderbird is debt-free and on track to become a major production studio. The company’s strong financial position also reflects its partnerships as it creates award-winning content for the world’s leading digital platforms, as well as Canadian and international broadcasters such as Disney (NYSE:DIS), Netflix (Nasdaq:NFLX), Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL), the CBC and Peacock.

Surveys suggest fewer than 15% of CFOs are women. Harwood has taken an important leadership role to recruit and mentor; 13 of the 18 members of her current team are women. The company aims for gender balance in its entire workforce by 2025. To protect jobs and avert a disproportionate impact on women when the pandemic hit, Harwood helped lead Thunderbird to internally fund the transition of its 1,000 crew to work from home and add mental health benefits to support its workers.

She has also played a pivotal role in Thunderbird’s strong diversity and inclusion mandates and its mission of telling uplifting and underrepresented stories. The company prioritizes integrity, acceptance and flexibility as core values and fosters artist-driven working environments, elevating diversity and inclusivity both on-screen and off. These values have also proven to be good for business with streamers and broadcasters looking to buy diverse and authentic content. As such, Thunderbird is uniquely positioned to deliver in this area – with shows on its production slate like Molly of Denali, Queen of the Oil Patch, Young Love, Reginald the Vampire and Dr. Savannah: Wild Rose Vet.

Before coming to Thunderbird, Harwood was part of a team that developed B.C.’s film tax credit and its digital tax credits structure, seen widely as important in nurturing the province’s industry. She is also known as a community connector, having established CFO networking groups in the past.

The CFO of the Year winners will receive their awards at an event November 29, held in conjunction with the annual Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Year celebrations. 

For more information go to https://biv.com/bc-cfo-awards.