UPDATED: Nicole Seligman, president of both Sony Entertainment and Sony Corp. of America, is stepping down from the twin posts to pursue other interests, according to a source familiar with the situation.
The veteran attorney and corporate leader was already serving as president of the Japanese corporation in America two years ago when she agreed to also become president of the entertainment unit, overseeing finance, human resources, legal and corporate communications. In the corporate job, she has reported to Sony chief executive Kazuo Hirai, while Michael Lynton has been her boss at the entertainment operation.
A memo to employees, announcing the change, said Seligman would leave at the end of March. In the note, Hirai and Lynton thanked Seligman for her “sterling legal skills and business sense, and her unflagging energy and integrity.”
Seligman said in a statement that she was “excited and eager to explore new opportunities” and thanked Sony for a “deeply rewarding” run with the company.
Seligman helped see the company through the crisis after its email system was hacked and the contents widely disseminated in the media, causing executive embarrassment, privacy breaches and millions of dollars in costs to fix the mess. She also recently helped complete the sale of Sony’s prominent offices in Midtown Manhattan.
Sony’s leaders said in their memo that the move from 550 Madison Avenue to Madison Square Park had opened “a bright new chapter for our business in America.” and persuaded Seligman that “it’s a good time to make a change, and move on to new chapters in her life.” An individual familiar with Seligman said she was simply ready for new opportunities after 15 years at the entertainment and electronics company.
She gained early acclaim as a lawyer with her representation of Lt. Col. Oliver North in a congressional hearing into the Iran-Contra scandal. She later acted as the legal adviser to President Bill Clinton when he testified before a grand jury in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and also helped defend him at his impeachment trial in the Senate.
Seligman was originally brought to the company by former Sony Corp. of America CEO Howard Stringer as general counsel.
Hirai and Lynton called her a “brilliant leader” and added: “Nicole has been an integral – and indispensable – part of many big decisions and developments throughout Sony’s global organization, offering sage counsel to her colleagues, and demonstrating both breadth of vision and great attention to detail.”