Diego Avalos

Vice President of Content for Netflix

Diego Ávalos is the Vice President of Content for Netflix in Spain, Portugal, and the Nordics. His passion for connecting content with technology led him to join Netflix over 9 years ago. Previously, Diego led Yahoo’s business and content development for the Hispanic market in the U.S. and Latin America. He started his career at Deloitte after graduating from Santa Clara University, and holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Diego is committed to promoting diversity, innovation, and quality in the projects Netflix develops. Thanks to Diego’s passion for producing content in Spanish, Netflix released its very first non-English language original series in 2015: Club de Cuervos (Club of Crows), about a fictional soccer club in Mexico. It was a massive success and launched Netflix’s thriving non-English language original series programming.

Diego has worked with Spanish and Latin American talent in the development of globally recognized hit titles such as Money Heist (Casa de Papel), Through My Window, The Girl of the Snow, and I Am Georgina. Currently, he is one of the executives responsible for leading Netflix’s global strategy for Spanish-language and non-English language content. In 2019, he moved from Los Angeles to Madrid to open the first Netflix Global Production Hub in Europe, which now consists of ten sound stages, twenty editing suites, and state-of-the-art production facilities.

In addition, Diego is on the boards of Building Baja’s Future and Fundación FAD Juventud. He is a promoter of activities for the development of the audiovisual sector with associations such as Association of Women Filmmakers and Women in Audiovisual Media (CIMA) and the Entity for Copyright in Audiovisual Media-Administration (DAMA).

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

Because of the nature of my job, there is no typical day. However, following a healthy and consistent routine is crucial to my productivity. I start my mornings early with exercise, followed by making a good cup of coffee at home. This routine not only helps me center my focus for the day and prepare for upcoming tasks, but also allows me to spend time brainstorming or reading a script before heading into work. I take advantage of my 30-minute walk commute to the office to clear my mind, sometimes spending the time in silence or listening to a podcast or music.

When I arrive at the office, my priority is to check in with colleagues in the cafeteria. We are a close team: we chat about our personal lives, about the projects they are working on or any challenges they may be facing. My workdays are fast-paced, engaging, and full on, filled with pitches, status meetings, resolving production issues, working with talent, press, and government officials. I also like to spend some time brainstorming with the team and holding creative sessions for future projects.

It is important to me to be home for my daughter’s bath and bedtime, so I make it a point to leave work by 7 pm most days. Of course, if there are remaining tasks that need attention, I continue working after the baby has gone to bed.

How do you bring ideas to life?

This is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I work in a space and with a team brimming with great ideas. Collaboration and open, direct communication are essential, as are empathy and humility. My team operates with a “what’s best for the business” mindset, prioritizing growth, under which we offer each other meaningful and timely feedback, ask real questions, and seek diverse perspectives. All of this is with the aim to bring ideas to life in the best possible way. That often means the original idea changes many times along the way, which means the process is working. We keep our members top of mind because we want to be sure that what we’re doing is relevant and enjoyable for the target audience, knowing that innovation and creative thinking is the secret that helps us unlock bold, unique solutions.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I continue to be excited about the growth of non-English language films and series. For decades, Hollywood dominated the culture and distribution of storytelling, but thanks to the internet, the world has been able to discover incredible content including La Casa de Papel, Squid Game, Troll or AKA. We have reached an inflection point where no language, country, or culture has a monopoly on the creation or distribution of stories.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

I begin my weeks by setting clear goals and objectives for each day and project. This helps me prioritize and break down tasks effectively. I use my calendar to my advantage; by scheduling specific time slots for activities, I create structure and minimize distractions. In meetings, I focus on decision-making and debates versus information sharing, which boosts team productivity and saves costs. I prioritize breaks, rest, and diverse experiences, as they have a positive effect on productivity and are good for the mind and body. Lastly, and most importantly, I dedicate time for self-care, family, and fulfilling activities; the best things in life.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Life and career are far from linear; instead, they are often zigzags and twists that only become clear in hindsight. Seize opportunities, armed with as much information as possible, while embracing and finding joy in the unknowns that have the power to reshape the path ahead. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun along the way.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?

Pineapple only belongs on a pizza if it includes jalapeños.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Do a physical activity every day. It can be as simple as walking around the block or stretching for ten minutes. The impact on the body and mind is incredible.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

If I am not in the office, I put on my running shoes and head out on a run. If I’m at the office, I put on my headphones and go on a walk. Spending time with my daughter or a quick FaceTime with her or my wife in the middle of the workday always makes me smile and resets my perspective.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

Adaptability. Embracing change to grow and advance. I have been lucky and able to explore different paths within and outside my field by being open to new opportunities and by having the confidence and humility to continuously expand my skill set. I started my career as an enterprise risk consultant working with companies in healthcare and retail, and today I’m a content executive. Reinventing myself meant stepping outside my comfort zone, taking on new challenges, actively seeking professional development, following (and trusting) my interests and dreams, and being willing to change paths.

What is one failure in your career,  how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

Early in my management career, I took too long to exit employees who were not a good culture/job fit or underperforming. This weighs the team down, impacts company goals, and also affects the individual employee. Ultimately, everyone benefits when you have the right people on the job, and trying to get individuals to get there is painful for them and the organization.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Keep your strategy simple and focused on the advantage you are trying to create. Coming up with the strategy is 30% part of the challenge, the rest is executing against it.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

The Google suite is my go-to platform for productivity and communication. Not only do I appreciate its primary function as an email service, but I also utilize it as a brainstorming tool, sending myself thoughts and ideas throughout the day. Being able to reply to comments from shared documents within emails is extremely efficient, and the included chat and VC features make it an incredible productivity tool.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?

he Moth Radio Hour. I love hearing stories told by such a range of everyday people around the world, along with the added behind-the-scenes commentary from the hosts. The podcast helps remind me of how vivid and complex everyone’s lives are, and to approach the world with greater empathy.

I also enjoy Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale podcast, which brings together remarkable leaders from many industries. Reid does an unbelievable job curating interview segments with lessons for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. The podcast provides me with inspirations that I can actively apply to my team and company on a consistent basis.

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

I love westerns and great family sagas. Yellowstone is both of these combined with melodrama, dark secrets and generational conflicts. An easy watch with incredible actors that gets you hooked from the start.

Key learnings

-Change and challenges are opportunities and teachers.
-Build and be part of a team that is as bold as it is humble because the desire to learn and hear different perspectives is a personal and business advantage.
-Always take the first step as it becomes the engine of momentum. To paraphrase Goethe and Nike, just do it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
-Focus your strategy on the advantage you want to gain.