After nearly five years, Jessica Schell is leaving her post as SVP of NBC Universal’s digital strategy and business development to take on a new role in the company’s film division. Schell’s new title is EVP, Universal Pictures, business development and strategic planning. In her place, *Meredith* Ross, a manager in the digital strategy and business development division, along with Ben Decker, will continue to work in that unit, reporting to Salil Mehta, president of operations and strategy for NBCU (NYSE: GE). The move comes as the pending merger between NBC and cable operator Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) continues to wend its way through the regulatory process for a possible completion by the end of the year. The word that Schell is leaving the NBCU digital fold also comes a day after another digital exec, Chris Grosso, became GM of AOL’s homepage.
Schell officially started her new job after Labor Day. In taking the Universal gig, Schell has relocated to Los Angeles from New York. Before arriving at NBCU in January 2006, Schell spent over four years as a VP at investment back Allen & Co. Prior to that, she was a strategic planner at The Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) Company.
A major part of Schell’s job at NBCU involved handling acquisitions and venture capital. According to her official bio, she had a hand in leading all the major deals the company struck over the past four years, including the purchases of iVillage, Television Without Pity and LXTV.
On the funding end, she was credited with securing the financing from Providence Equity Partners for the launch of Hulu as part of the initial joint venture with News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). She also served on the board of the Peacock Equity Fund, NBCU’s venture capital arm. When she was at Allen & Co., Schell advised News Corp. on the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and managed Primedia’s sale of New York Magazine.
It wasn’t immediately clear what her focus would be at Universal, though it’s expected that Schell will again be directing major acquisitions and investments for the movie studio.
Updated: The official release came out this afternoon, and it looks like acquisitions will not be a major focus initially. At least for right now, she’ll chart the studio