Martin Diaz de la Peña Lopez is a change agent. In his rotational role as vice president of global finance for Sony Pictures Entertainment, he pulls from his diverse, cross-industry experience to inspire financial changes for the renowned entertainment studio.
Lopez’s journey begins on a family-owned farm in the south of Spain. He was the seventh of nine siblings, and his parents instilled in him early on a determination to lead by example, take ownership of his work, and stay humble. “I was raised to be a sort of Michelangelo,” Lopez reflects. “A little bit of everything.”
He followed his older siblings to Madrid, where he studied economics and began his professional career. At twenty-two years old, he landed his first job at Hewlett-Packard. There, he developed his economic skill set and traveled Europe to provide financial expertise to teams of engineers, customer service specialists, and consulting managers. During his seven years with the IT giant, he outgrew junior roles and refined his financial fundamentals—preparation for his next chapter at Avon Cosmetics.
Within two years at an almost-seven-hundred-employee subsidiary of Avon for the South of Europe, Middle East, and North of Africa, Lopez had more than twenty finance employees under his management as finance director. He modernized the company’s financial transactions and made sure that his team members were able to update their skills. And, in the face of the 2008 economic crisis, he met with consultants, unions, and HR leaders to resolve financial difficulties. “It was a great chance for me to focus not only on financial activity but also on the many elements of a leadership role,” Lopez says.
In 2011, he accepted a finance director role at Paramount Pictures. Three years later, he was promoted to executive director of finance for the international territories, prompting his relocation to Hollywood.
“It was radical change,” Lopez says of his transition to the entertainment industry. Upon his arrival in California, Lopez was thrown into the fast-paced world of show business. But grounded by his financial background and supported by the soft negotiation skills he had gained in international leadership roles, Lopez felt prepared to tackle any challenge with grace.
So, in 2019, when Sony Pictures sought someone to step into a rotational role where they would serve as a liaison between the CFO and departmental financial heads, Lopez stood out as the ideal candidate. In his current position, he works for one to one-and-a-half years within each of the company’s divisions—film production, TV production, media networks, and worldwide distribution—to strengthen respective budgeting, planning activities, and commercial finance support.
“I get in contact and delegate tasks from the CFO to corresponding heads of finance within the different divisions,” Lopez explains. A diplomat that works between and across divisions, he unifies otherwise siloed financial processes by establishing core values and pointing each area toward corresponding results. “As financial professionals, we are common denominators.”
“When you embrace change, you usually never look back.”
In maximizing these departmental synergies, Lopez has discovered opportunities that benefit the company at large. By standardizing the company’s planning calendar, Lopez enabled divisional heads to work more cohesively. Lopez has even assisted the chief information officer on an array of projects, expanding his scope of influence as the only financial executive currently in this rotational role.
While Lopez’s background and his love for learning equipped him with the power to excel in this position, his leadership abilities set him apart. For Lopez, it’s about leading by example, treating people well, staying humble but determined, and having the courage to offer different perspectives.
“Don’t be afraid to step up,” he says. “Rather than following the competition, try to see new areas of growth. At Sony Pictures, they are hungry for new ideas.”
Thinking outside the box is natural for Lopez, especially given the symbiosis between technology and creativity at Sony Pictures. But the company’s mission also resonates with him on a very personal level: as Lopez puts it, Sony Pictures aims to connect different communities of interest worldwide. In the business of storytelling, reaching projected audiences is key—but so is the influence that any given story can have.
For Lopez, this is the perfect blend between results and purpose, something that grounds him as he looks to the future and knows that change is imminent. Luckily for Lopez, he is seasoned in diving headfirst into the changing tide.
“When you embrace change,” he says, “you usually never look back.”