Here’s the good news: Our annual list of the Most Powerful Women in Cable is bigger than ever—and that’s because so many women have ascended to influential roles within the industry. The bad news? As we all know from WICT and NAMIC’s most recent joint workplace diversity survey, red flags abound when it comes to talent retention and advancement to the most senior positions. On the tech side, fewer women cable engineers and techies are in the business now than 30 years ago. And that was the Ron Burgundy era. Geez.
So what’s going on? Why the paradox? It’s just… unsettling.
Journalists and politicians like clear trends that support a thesis. For journalists, it’s all about finding the “angle” of the story. For politicians, it’s about determining whether the government needs to step in to “encourage” a more fair system or simply let the free market work its magic. But here’s the truth: There’s no black and white here. No clear thesis. No definitive free market or government answer. In the end, diversity and the advancement of women in business comes down to people and their ultimate intentions. Either those in power are making an effort to seek out the best candidates regardless of race or gender—or they just can’t be bothered. It’s as simple as that.
It’s true that few other industries do so much to advance the interests of female and minority execs than cable. But it’s really up to everyone from the top CEOs to the middle managers to the journalists to the policymakers to the thought leaders to the celebrities to the trendsetters and beyond to keep attention on these issues—whether or not it coincides with Diversity Week. Strides continue. But we could always do better. Cable’s continued willingness to take an honest look at itself—warts and all—remains a huge positive that keeps us all moving forward. And women in cable continue to make career progress based on their contributions and tireless work ethic.
Speaking of tireless work ethic, I need to thank the woman without whom this magazine simply wouldn’t come together every year, and that’s its managing editor Cathy Applefeld Olson. Once I’ve finalized the list, she’s the one who manages the day-to-day with the writers and helps ensure the integrity of hundreds of profiles that appear in these pages each year. Thanks, Cathy. And thanks to all the women of cable who make this industry better every day.
Michael Grebb Editor
The Top 50
Chairman, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group
If there’s one thing cable insiders can count on, it’s the continual evolution of powerhouse Bonnie Hammer. She started the year with a promotion that handed her sole control over NBCU’s cable-entertainment portfolio, and she’s ending it with her latest reworking within the group—the transformation of Style to Esquire Network. The exec behind USA Network’s seven-year cable domination and its newest incarnation as a purveyor of original dramas and sitcoms, will be working closely with new NBCU EVP Cesar Conde now that Lauren Zalaznick has left the building. With so much responsibility now heaped upon her shoulders and her power significantly enhanced, Hammer takes the number one slot this year. We can’t wait to see her next act.
EVP/COO, Cox Communications
One of cable’s top-ranking females, Campbell has employed persistence, skill and talent to shun any notion of a glass ceiling. She oversees Cox’s day-to-day operations and ensures companywide alignment with competitive strategies to enhance marketplace execution and grow the company’s 6 million residential and commercial customers. She also provides leadership for Cox departments and divisions, including field operations, field services, customer care, marketing and sales, and public affairs. Workplace success is “having an environment that encourages people of all backgrounds to flourish and grow and proactively promotes diversity,” she says.
What’s your favorite part of your job? What I love most about my job is that it’s different every day. One day, I could be visiting employees in our cable systems, the next one I’m in a budget meeting, and the day after that, I’m brainstorming with our marketing team on competitive offers. It never, ever gets boring!
Best trick for maintaining the personal-professional life balance? Stop thinking that you can balance it! Take one day at a time and stop beating yourself up. Do the best that you can!
Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks and President, Disney/ABC TV Group, The Walt Disney Company
Sweeney has long been one of the biggest influencers in all of media, and her staying power is impressive. And this savvy exec believes Watch- ABC and its sister TVE apps may be an industry turning point. “I believe it’s showing us the future of television,” Sweeney says, predicting it will strengthen the cable industry by letting viewers personalize their media experience. “With the launch of WatchABC in May, we reinforced the MVPD ecosystem again by becoming the first and only linear broadcasting service to provide authenticated viewers the ability to live-stream their favorite ABC shows and local market programming, as well as access a variety of on-demand content, at home and on the go.”
Favorite part of the job: What excites me most about my job today is that we’re able to create memorable moments for hundreds of millions of people around the world and that new technologies and innovations empower us to tell our stories and reach audiences in so many different ways.
How do you define success in the workplace? Success, to me, is when you have a team that understands and is committed to your content, your organization and your goals. When people share a passion and the creativity to find ways to give consumers the best experience possible, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.
Chairman, A+E Networks
AETN believes in Raven, so much so that the company created the position of chairman and elevated her to its lofty heights in April. Now she provides the strategic vision behind the corporate business and charts the company’s course. Her direction is paying off as evidenced by the phenomenal success of breakout shows like “Duck Dynasty” and her close working relationship with AETN wunderkind Nancy Dubuc. “It’s exciting to come to work every day at a global media company because no day is like the day before,” says Raven. “There’s always a new challenge.”
Defining workplace success: In the television business, we get invited into people’s homes on a daily basis, and our viewers vote with their remotes. That report card inspires the creative teams to do their best work.
What’s been the biggest story in cable this year? The overwhelming success of “Duck Dynasty”—the surprise hit that has generated tremendous buzz and interest across the country!
President/CEO, A+E Networks
2013 has been quite a year for Dubuc. Awarded AETN’s top spot in June, Dubuc wasted no time proving why she deserves the title. Under her guidance, much of television’s “Golden Age” of content has emanated from her networks. A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” set records with its 11.8 million season four premiere, with “Vikings,” “The Bible” and “Bates Motel” smashing ratings records of their own. “The number of new series out there, and the level of quality has really raised the bar for all of us,” says Dubuc. And it’s a height she’s surpassing.
Biggest story: We’re in the Golden Age of content. Technology has really made the creative process better... And now you are seeing great content on multiple platforms, especially on cable, which has been the driving force of innovation and risk-taking.
Defining workplace success: When people find their jobs rewarding and feel motivated to come to work every day, it’s truly the definition of success. I am incredibly proud that we have so many passionate employees at A+E Networks.
EVP/Chief Video & Content Officer, Time Warner Cable
Witmer’s fingerprints are all over TWC, from the launch of two new regional sports networks last year to an intense standoff with CBS this summer that reopened the debate on retransmission consent reform on Capitol Hill. In addition to overseeing the company’s video and content products and strategy, Witmer oversees its 34 regional and local news, sports, traffic, weather and lifestyle channels. “I have a team that makes me laugh when I should cry, picks each other up when we are down and knows how to make the worst possible situation seem like an opportunity,” she says. “I have said many times, it wouldn’t matter what we were doing—swirling cones at Dairy Queen or making major media deals—this team would make it seem a lot less like work and a lot more like an adventure.”
Biggest story: Probably consolidation rumors and retransmission consent disputes.
Defining workplace success: Win some, lose some—either way have fun doing it.
Best life-balance trick: Reminding myself its television not brain surgery—nobody dies. Checking out and making time to chill is key.
Chairman/CEO, OWN and Harpo Studios
Winfrey’s dedication to OWN really paid off this year. Ratings are up more than 30% in the core female demographic, and the network became cash flow positive ahead of schedule. Harpo Studios-produced “Iyanla: Fix My Life” is one of OWN’s break-out series, and programs built around Winfrey herself—such as “Oprah’s Next Chapter” and “ Oprah’s Lifeclass”—are huge draws. Her exclusive one-on-one interview with Lance Armstrong was seen by millions of viewers around the world. On the scripted front, she has partnered with Tyler Perry on the drama “The Haves and the Have Nots,” and the comedy “Love Thy Neighbor.”
President, Bright House Networks
Bergman leads Bright House Networks on a variety of levels, from strategic planning of its advanced network operations to the innovation, creation and deployment of the company’s technically advanced products and services. Bergman was a member of the founding management team that successfully launched the Bright House Networks brand. But for a month, she’d trade places with Mark Cuban or Marcus Lemonis “so that I could stand in their shoes for ‘Shark Tank’ or ‘The Profit,’ two of my family’s favorite shows.”
Favorite part of the job: The people with whom I have the honor to work both at Bright House Networks and in our industry are consistently the brightest part of my job.
Best life-balance trick: First, I try to always embrace the choices I made with a positive attitude toward making them work. Second, I try to truly be present in the moment. Third, we remember the more special moments and accomplishments in our personal and professional lives, rather than everyday life. So, I try to plan them. My favorite is an annual mother-daughter weekend, which I cherish with each of my daughters.
EVP/General Counsel, Fox Networks Group
Among other tough tasks, Tuzon’s team leads Fox’s legal challenges against DISH’s Hopper and Aereo. The highest-ranking female executive at Fox Networks Group was among the guiding forces behind the recently launched MundoFox and also oversees legal efforts for the recently launched Fox Sports 1 and FXX. Heading a 120-person business affairs and legal team, Tuzon is well-known for her ability to mentor bright young people with economically challenged backgrounds. Biking and skiing are among activities you’ll catch this sports enthusiast undertaking—when she’s not translating legalese for Fox, of course.
Favorite part of the job: Every day turns out differently than I think it will when I start out in the morning. Triage days make the job still exciting, when things are hopping and I can solve big problems and move on to the next challenge.
Best life-balance trick: Still looking for the trick.
Who would you want to swap jobs with for a month and why? The beach attendant at the Mauna Kea Hotel on the Big Island … for obvious reasons.
Chairman/CEO, BET Networks
Lee has plenty of successes under her belt. There’s the network’s first original movie “Being Mary Jane,” which elicited an enthusiastic audience response. And mastering the formula for award shows among black audiences, including the BET Awards, the Soul Train Awards and the Hip Hop Awards, was no easy feat. Then there’s the success of “106 & Park,” “The Game” and the hilarious breakout hit “The Real Husbands of Hollywood.” The original programming route is clearly working—and it’s largely thanks to Lee’s vision and passion for quality entertainment that has persisted since she took the reigns in 2005. Her secret? “Success for me is defined by delivering high-quality programming that respects, reflects and elevates our audience.”
Biggest story: The biggest story has been the fight between Time Warner and CBS. The dispute continues to show the distance between programmers and cables operators. Hopefully, we can find ways to resolve these issues faster without affecting audiences as they are always the big loser in these battles.
Work-life balance: Make sure you have one cookie a day. By cookie, I mean to make sure to plan at least one thing each day that you love to do, even if it’s just for 15 minutes.
Group President, Discovery, TLC and Discovery Fit & Health, Discovery Communications
Shark Week set record numbers in its 26th year, but O’Neill is also thrilled with viewer engagement in the live broadcast of “Skywire Live With Nik Wallenda.” That logistical and programming feat drew 13 million total viewers and generated nearly 40,000 tweets per minute. O’Neill enjoys her job. “Where else would I get a chance to torture myself and my staff, holding our breath as a guy walks across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope (I’m still recovering from that one... while planning the next one),” she says. “Where else would I be talking to moonshiners, gold miners, Honey Boo Boo and former presidential Chiefs of Staff in the same week?” OK. We have nothing to add there...
Biggest story: I think this is the year that cable truly evened the playing field—for us it was the huge success of our live Wallenda event that got record numbers on air, online and on Twitter; and with the scripted shows like “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead” that are getting great numbers to go with the critical acclaim.
Defining workplace success: To me success in the workplace is all about growth—growing your own skill set, growing your talent... and of course, this is tv—growing your numbers.
Work-life balance: Not sure I am a magician on this front...
Swapping jobs: Bill Belichick. I live and die for the Patriots—they are my other favorite team.
EVP/COO - Media Services, Time Warner Cable
Under Gillman’s leadership, media sales at Time Warner Cable surpassed $1 billion last year, an all-time record. She works tirelessly, heading up the ad sales force and leading efforts to deliver advanced advertising, data and interactive solutions for advertisers and network partners. Yet she still finds time for TWC’s Executive Mentoring Program and Step Forward, an internal leadership development program for women execs. Her favorite part of work is the people—staff, clients and partners. “Learning and exchanging ideas with these critical groups inspire us to innovate each day,” she says.
Work-life balance: It is not about balance. It is about making the most of the time I spend at work and the time I spend with my family. I have learned to plan the next adventure far in advance and take pleasure in looking forward to it.
Swapping jobs: I would like to swap jobs with the head of the NSA—to know more about what the government is doing with big data and the technology behind it…
President, Food Network and Cooking Channel
More people than ever now consider themselves “foodies,” in part because of the way Johnson and her team have helped transform the food television genre into pop culture. Over the past year, the classically trained pianist worked to expand the Food Network and Cooking Channel beyond our television sets into place-based events, such as The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which drew 65,000 people, and through popular iTunes apps, such as “In The Kitchen” and “On The Road.” She also serves on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s task force on childhood obesity. Her recipe for workplace success? “Happy employees, high ratings.”
Favorite part of the job: My favorite part of my job is working with incredibly creative people on very compelling and fascinating projects.
Biggest story: The continued vibrancy of the cable model, especially among younger people.
Hernández has never found a conundrum she didn’t embrace. “I love fixing problems, and in media it is usually about finding the human truth that is going to connect with the consumer,” she says. She leads sales, marketing and domestic growth platforms for the consolidated Telemundo network and stations group, and this year guided Telemundo through its first rebrand in more than a decade. Original programming populates her crowded radar screen. Under Hernández, Telemundo upped its original programming slate by 40% in the 2012-13 season. Hernández also oversees millennial network mun2 and Telemundo’s Digital and Emerging Business team.
Defining workplace success: Success is breaking through expectations, going above and beyond what you set out to do. This means you don’t stop when you achieve your goal. You just keep going and before you know it, you bumped into success.
Work-life balance: As a self-proclaimed workaholic, I’ve learned that the trick is to “work hard and play hard.” Do both with complete zest, and you’ll realize how much better you’ll become.
Abdoulah continues to spread WOW!’s services across the U.S. Case in point: In mid-2012, the company completed the acquisition of Georgia-based Knology, bringing the combined customer count to more than 800,000. Her team is committed to innovating on the technology and customer service front— and the company has been recognized for those efforts. What’s more, as ACA’s Chairwoman since 2011, Adboulah leads advocacy efforts for independent operators on the topics of broadband deployment, program access and retrans.
President, Advertising Sales, NBCUniversal
Yaccarino is NBCU’s golden advertising girl, evidenced no more clearly than the reorg this fall of the company’s sales structure with all broadcast and cable ad spots, integrations and sponsorships under her oversight. Wooed to the NBCU empire just two years ago, Yaccarino is extending her very profitable Upfront strategy of tethering cable and broadcast offerings according to content. Her mantle now is to leverage the behemoth’s voluminous programming offerings—in the categories of entertainment, live programming, lifestyle and digital—across platforms. That, plus overseeing a first-time ad sales structure under a new corporate structure. Like NBCU, we’ve got a lot of faith in her ability to pull it off with flying colors.
Two years after Nick’s ratings woes made headlines, the network appears to be experiencing a turnaround. Viacom’s revenues, ratings and stock prices are up, and pres/ CEO Philippe Dauman attributes no small part of that success to Nick. With a new streaming deal with Amazon in place, new live-action and animated hits and a strategic focus on the funny for its post-millennial audience, signs of reinvigoration are everywhere. Zarghami’s 27 years of experience at the company has paid off in a pinch.
EVP, Content Distribution & Marketing, Viacom
Charged with oversight of all multiplatform distribution for Viacom’s cable nets, including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, Spike, TV Land and Epix, Denson’s got her hands full. But that’s not the half of it. Add OTT partners into the negotiation mix, and the landscape gets even more cluttered. But for Denson, that’s what keeps it interesting. In her view, the biggest story in cable is “the industry’s collective and growing embrace of new technologies and new screens—the rise in TV Everywhere apps, on demand video online and on TV, and interesting new players in online video. She calls these “exciting times.” And she should know.
What’s your favorite part of your job? The brilliant and talented people I’m fortunate enough to work with and learn from every day.
How do you define success in the workplace? Being true to yourself while having a positive impact on the business and its people.
Best trick for maintaining the personal-professional life balance? Having a partner who is supportive, grounded, and a great cook.
Who would you want to swap jobs with for a month and why? Nobody!
SVP, Content Acquisition, Comcast Cable
Gaiski continues to play a key role in helping shape Comcast’s video offering as the company has grown from a midsize MSO serving 2.7 million customers to the nation’s largest cable operator. With a multibilliondollar content acquisition budget, Gaiski helps negotiate and administer programming contracts, as well as coordinate filed operations and communications for Comcast’s three operating divisions. Gaiski and her team recently finalized a comprehensive distribution pact with Fox Networks to deliver a wide array of content to Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers.
Favorite part of the job: My favorite part is the people, the products and also the fact that no day is ever the same.
Biggest story: X2 and Cloud Services... Cable continues to redefine itself.
Work-life balance: Engage and focus on what is in front of you every step of the day.
Swapping jobs: Michael Angelakis, now he has a cool job!
Group President, Animal Planet, Science and Velocity
Kaplan repositioned the Animal Planet brand as “Surprisingly Human,” a move that made the network a Top 20 cable channel with men. She added programming about legendary creatures like mermaids as well as shows that reflect man’s interaction with the natural world. Her team has collectively driven U. S. market share from 4% to nearly 11%. Outside work, she’s still involved with nature: “I’m actually stunned by how many people walking outside are talking on their phones or staring at a device instead of looking at the world around them or just up at the sky,” she says. “Breathe.”
Favorite part of the job: I have a risk-taking, dynamic workplace filled with daring and talented creative people who are expected to bring their best selves to work every day. How could I not love that?
Swapping jobs: Kelly Slater. I’d love to be a great surfer and it would be great to have his bold, risk-taking presence on my businesses.
President, Optimum Services, Cablevision Systems
Dolan oversees product management, marketing and sales for one of Cablevision’s crown jewels—its Optimum TV, phone and Internet products. She also helmed a new and comprehensive communications initiative featuring proactive customer notifications of outages and other issues. She leads multiple teams throughout the company and uniquely brings a business perspective along with a softer focus on consumers and brand affinity. “I define success in the workplace as identifying clear and meaningful business objectives, meeting them in a timely manner, and doing so in a positive and supportive environment,” she says.
Favorite part of the job: Using collaborative and productive problem-solving to improve our products and provide a great experience for our customers.
Swapping jobs: I’d like to switch places with a curator at the V&A Museum in London so I can be energized and inspired in an environment that extends well beyond telecommunications.
President, Comedy Central
Helming the net with co-pres Doug Herzog, Ganeless is taking Comedy Central to new heights—whether hosting comedy fests on Twitter, greenlighting shows from the alwaysoffensive, always-funny roasters Anthony Jeselnik and Amy Schumer or continuing to churn out eps of comedy gold—and Emmy wins—from staples like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” Moreover, Ganeless can spot up-and-comers and displays the courage to take risks. So how does she manage it all? Her best trick for keeping that work-life balance is to “choose your boss wisely.”
Favorite part of the job: Working with brilliant, talented creative people.
Biggest story: “Breaking Bad”
President, Content Distribution & Corporate Business Development, Univision
O’Connor is cutting distribution deals as fast as Univision can create new content. And given the speed at which the company is doing so— whether new networks like Univision tlnovelas, the UVideos digital net or just-launched Fusion— she’s got her work cut out for her. Having excelled considerably at expanding the influence and exposure of Univision’s portfolio, O’Connor has taken on even more responsibility and now drives corporate business development with nontraditional outlets seeking to serve the growing Hispanic market. We have no doubt she’ll continue to succeed in serving this new crop of players—particularly because she tells us that “building assets and value for the company and our distributors” is her favorite part of the gig.
Defining workplace success: Fully leveraging all of the talent and skills with each and every individual on my team.
Work-life balance: Dedicating my time off to actually “turning off”!
EVP, Turner Broadcasting System
As the person in charge of all of Turner’s legal matters, Sams has a hand in acquisitions, jvs, production and content clearance, intellectual property protection, employment matters and more. And she has a truly global mindset, an especially good thing considering that she directs a staff of lawyers located in Atlanta, L.A., London, Hong Kong, Seoul, Mumbai, Tokyo, Sydney, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. She’d job-swap for a month with another sort of world traveler: Anthony Bourdain. “Travel is the best education and allows you to learn from people of different backgrounds and cultures,” she says.
Favorite part of the job: Solving problems, particularly with groups of people. The fun is confronting an issue, discussing ways to deal with it, having different perspectives and devising a solution that works for everyone. It’s a terrific mental challenge and rewarding collaboration.
Defining workplace success: Success should be measured by the contribution a person makes to her team and to business results. In leadership, it means motivating teams and seeking ways to improve, anticipating changes and developing future leaders.
CEO, U.S., QVC
On Watts’ watch, QVC’s U.S. growth expanded 3.2% over the previous year to $5.6 billion. Her focus on interactive programming led to QVC’s ecommerce business expanding by 10% in Q4, 2012, propelled by mobile growth. That period also witnessed QVC’s biggest sales week in the channel’s history last November. Over the past year, Watts also saw gains through QVC’s 2012 acquisition of Send the Trend website, as well as its more recent purchase of technology platform Oodle. Watts also finds the next big thing through QVC’s Sprouts competition, which finds tomorrow’s inventors and entrepreneurs, and she thrives on developing a strong team. “Listening to an individual’s aspirations, studying their skill set, and helping them find success through the right career path is thrilling to me,” she says.
Biggest story: The rapid growth of mobile and social media platforms is resulting in significant innovation across the industry. With QVC, I am excited about the work we are doing to integrate live TV in a fresh way with mobile and social platforms to create a more interactive and entertaining experience for our viewers.
Defining workplace success: There are different ways to define success in the workplace. One important area for me is to continue to learn. You will never have all the answers. The minute you think you do, you will fail. Our industry is seeing a speed of change that is unprecedented, and to really be successful you have to be committed to learning and staying curious.
Former EVP, NBCUniversal
It was the end of an era this September when Zalaznick said goodbye to NBCU, the business she saw through so many incarnations during her salient 12-year executive stint. Though her most recent, short-lived role was focused on developing digital extensions for the company, Zalaznick is best known for her strategic oversight of the cable properties, particularly her transformation of Bravo into a high-end lifestyle brand and her coining of the term for the viewers the network successfully courted—“affluencers.” We’re anxiously awaiting news of her next chapter. We just know she’ll find a way to stay on this list.
Managing Director/Head of Funds for Comcast Ventures & SVP, Comcast Corp.
Banse has spent 20-plus years at Comcast and during that time has closed hundreds of deals, acquired multiple cable television networks and launched several others. As founder of Comcast’s digital media division, her extensive track record includes identifying opportunity, pushing for growth and delivering profits. “I’m a big believer in getting it done,” Banse has said. “I was one of those kids in grade school who believed the teacher when she said you can do whatever you put your mind to.”
President, Bravo and Oxygen Media
Lifestyle programming maven Berwick added Oxygen to her plate in September following the transition of Style to Esquire Net and the exit of Jason Klarman from Oxygen’s helm. At Bravo, she’s on an original content tear, greenlighting an unprecedented 17 new and 18 returning unscripted series. Those moves raise the net’s original offerings by 15%, and it’s a formula that’s paying off. Bravo is up 8% in total viewers this year. 2012 marked doubledigit ad revenue increases, with 126 new advertisers flocking to the brand. Berwick appreciates that the original content surge across cable has only augmented quality and innovation. There’s “so much to watch, and so many ways to watch it,” she says.
Favorite part of the job: There are so many fun and challenging things about my role at Bravo and Oxygen Media, but probably the best part is getting to spend my time with smart, fun, passionate and provocative people.
Biggest story: The continued explosion of original content for all platforms; straight to series orders in the scripted world and the doubling and tripling of original hours in unscripted across broadcast and cable.
Defining workplace success: More consumers of our content, more monetization of that content, increasing loyalty to Bravo and Oxygen and our show brands, and a happy workforce.
Grossman has transformed the multichannel retailer and continues to break new ground at HSN with revolutionary initiatives that extend reach across multiple distribution platforms, attract top brand and celebrity partnerships and position the network as a marketing vehicle for entertainment companies and celebrities. Her approach is to focus on remaining flexible and adaptive, collaborative and interactive, and using innovation and technology to remove barriers and create a seamless brand experience. Grossman, who serves on the board of organizations like the National Retail Federation, has directed the creation of HSN Cares to support women and families in need. “I define success with three words: passion, purpose and impact,” she says.
Favorite part of the job: HSNi is much more than a retailer—we’re a brand builder. We work with talented, entrepreneurial people who have a passion for what they do and for the products that they create. Being able to help them build their businesses and tell their stories is truly inspiring to me and one of the many reasons why I love our mission of bringing the joy and excitement of new discoveries everyday to our customers.
Defining workplace success: I think it is important that you have an impact in what you do every day, be driven by a purpose and be passionate about what you are doing. This is what drives me as a CEO, has come to define our culture and influences both my personal and philanthropic life as well.
EVP/General Counsel, NBCUniversal
Seasoned barrister Harris joined NBCU’s top executive ranks this year after serving time both in the private and public sector. She served in the White House Counsel’s Office, most recently as Deputy Counsel and Deputy Assistant to the President, from 2010-12 and later as a partner at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell. Her new role brings new opportunities and challenges, including providing legal advice to NBCU senior management and supervising the Law Department, which handles legal matters for all the company’s business units. She also coordinates NBCU’s global regulatory and legislative agenda.
Playing strategic and financial roles in programming agreements with Major League Baseball, the college playoffs and an historic 20-year rights deal with the SEC that includes a multi-platform network launching in 2014 are only part of Driessen’s 2013 accomplishments. She also helped develop a joint ESPN/U.S. Department of State global mentoring program offering sports-related opportunities for underserved women around the world, and created ESPN’s Executive Women’s Forum to help female executives thrive at ESPN. The latter is especially dear to Driessen. “Success in the workplace for me is measured in the impact I can have on improving, encouraging or influencing someone’s career,” she says.
Favorite part of the job: Meeting incredibly talented people and being inspired by their passion and creativity.
Work-life balance: Learning to be realistic about what you can accomplish in any week and learning to focus, focus, focus on what’s important.
Chairman, NBCUniversal News Group
It hasn’t been the easiest of times for Fili- Krushel, who took over the NBCU News Group last July and has faced ratings declines on both the broadcast and cable side. But this is an executive who counts resourcefulness as one of her key qualities, and lately she has shared insights on how she and MSNBC President Phil Griffin are going to right the ship. Among her plans are continuing to work the right balance between breaking news and providing analysis and reinvigorating the Sunday news/talk shows. It’s an evolving story... stay tuned.
EVP, Strategy & Business Development, NBCUniversal
The very first hire by former NBCU EVP Lauren Zalaznick last year after her promotion, Conkling joined the company to lead a new business model focused on monetizing cross-platform content and supercharging its digital strategy. The hire made sense because during her five years as EVP, distribution, at AETN, Conkling led a multiplatform distribution strategy for its 10 networks, including A&E, History, Lifetime and LMN, which she grew to 85 million subscribers. Now she’s working across NBCU’s divisions to develop new strategies, with a keen focus on mobile and content measurement as it relates to advanced advertising.
CMO, Fox International Channels
As an award-winning marketing executive overseeing all brand development, consumer communications and trade marketing for Fox International Channels’ more than 300 channels, Dolan’s priorities include building strong connections to Fox’s channel brands, such as FX in the U.K. and Nat Geo Wild in Taiwan. The former executive at OWN and Nike is also a self-starter: She created, produced and co-hosted (with her four other real-life sisters) the radio talk show “Satellite Sisters,” syndicated nationally by ABC Radio Networks.
Favorite part of the job: The favorite part of my job is definitely that the FIC marketing team is spread out around the world and includes people from every part of the world. Argentina and Italy rank No. 1 and No. 2 in representation on the Global Marketing team, but then in every country we have local teams too. It makes life complicated, but it adds so much to the creativity and culture of the company.
Biggest story: The continued growth of Pay TV outside the United States is a very powerful story. Cable penetration is growing in big markets all over the world at the same time that income is growing. More people entering the middle class means there are more viewers every day for our channels. People can afford and have access to entertainment that was previously not available to them. That in turn creates an ever increasing appetite for high quality content. It’s a very exciting time.
Work-life balance: I work on more than 300 channels in virtually every country in the world. For me the #1 trick to personal-professional balance is the videoconference box that sits right on my desk! It allows me to have a personal connection with colleagues all over the planet but still occasionally sleep in my own bed! Now if I could also do away with time zones, I’d really have a life.
President, HGTV and DIY Network
Three years after arriving at HGTV, Finch knows location, location, location matters whether it’s dealing with real estate or programming. By emphasizing such house-flipping shows as “Buying & Selling” and “Love It or List It,” Finch and her team bolstered HGTV to its best 1Q ever in 2013 for prime time and total day shares. Overall, total viewership rose 8% for 1Q 2013 over 1Q 2012. Finch defines success in the workplace as “looking forward to Mondays more than Fridays.”
Favorite part of the job: What I love most about my job is the chance to lead a team of smart people who are as obsessed with television as I am. Television is an unusually fun business —our products entertain millions of people every single day— and I relish working alongside people who never lose sight of that and don’t ever take themselves too seriously.
Biggest story: The biggest story this year is the impact of digital distribution and its power to change audience behavior, almost overnight. From “binge viewing” becoming an acceptable weekend pastime to Netflix winning awards once reserved for cable and broadcast... new technology is upending the traditional business model and changing viewer expectations forever.
EVP/CFO, Comcast Cable
Comcast elevated its first female EVP to the role of CFO this summer. And it’s a well-deserved promotion. With more than two decades of experience at Comcast, Avgiris has most recently overseen data and communications, including Comcast’s Xfinity Internet, Xfinity Voice and consumer wireless businesses. She now oversees the company’s $40 billion business, reporting directly to CEO Neil Smit.
Favorite part of the job: As the new CFO of the cable division, I have the purview of a $40B business. I see how the individual product lines come together and how I can make strategic decisions to benefit our financial position in a competitive marketplace.
Defining workplace success: Success can be measured in many ways—making an impact, delivering on commitments. But success is most gratifying when others take up the cause you are championing because your passion becomes their passion.
Swapping jobs: I would swap places with one of judges on “The Voice.” I love music and would pick more eclectic song choices for my team. Besides, who wouldn’t want to do duet with Adam Levine?
EVP, Turner Broadcasting System
Regal does a little bit of everything, with her leadership portfolio including programming and sales research, public relations, corporate communications and philanthropy, human resources, media buying and market strategy functions. A new boss will be in her future, with Turner CEO Phil Kent stepping down at year-end and Time Warner CFO/CAO John Martin taking over the top job. Often described as “whip-smart,” Regal should be more than able to adapt, as she’s known for quickly understanding, analyzing and prioritizing info coming at her.
EVP/General Counsel, Showtime Networks
It was the sparring match of the year, and we’re guessing Marcus was smack dab in the middle of the CBSTime Warner Cable retrans fight. She oversees the legal end of several critical Showtime transactions, including the company’s long-term multiplatform distribution agreements with operators and the company’s extension of its agreement with Disney Studios for first-run DreamWorks Studios’ movies. Marcus continues to navigate challenges presented by new distribution platforms, in particular, the rollout of the network’s authenticated broadband service Showtime Anytime. In April, she was inducted into her high school’s Hall of Fame for her “outstanding professional accomplishments and community service.”
Former President, HBO Entertainment
HBO knows a good thing when it sees it. So it’s no surprise the network isn’t letting go of its longtime entertainment queen so fast. Naegle stepped down from her throne in September to begin a new career path at the helm of her own production company. A production company that, not coincidentally, has a first-look deal with HBO. Largely credited for helping wrest the premium net from its post-“Sopranos” slump, Naegle ushered in the next generation of classic HBO hits. And she nurtured shows like “True Blood” while helping to bring “Game of Thrones” and “Girls” into the fold. We’ll be seeing more of Naegle, trust us...
Long a presence both in front of and behind the C-SPAN cameras, Swain really turned heads this year with “First Ladies: Influence and Image,” which explores contributions U. S. First Ladies have made to society throughout the nation’s history. This may not be an election year, but political infighting and the government shutdown gave C-SPAN viewers plenty to discuss. “We’ve been listening for years though through our call-in programs, but tracking social media use adds a whole new dimension,” she says.
Favorite part of the job: Being in the middle of the biggest events coming out of Washington—there seem to be so many of them these days—and helping shape our coverage of it across platforms.
Defining workplace success: It’s very satisfying to observe the public reacting to our coverage of national events... Closer to home, success is working with a lot of dedicated professionals who know how to do their jobs and do them well and also watching new generations of young staffers who want to help us grow into the future.
EVP, Business Operations, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment
Roberts loves strategic problemsolving, so her recent promotion to a role overseeing all business ops for the new NBCU Cable Group suits her just fine. She’s pivotal in leading the business affairs teams across the cable portfolio, where she’ll continue to expand the development pipeline and establish projects at 2 nets just beginning their forays into scripted content—E! and Bravo. Roberts will also continue to play an integral role carving out SVOD deals for key existing shows. It’s a full plate she loves. Still, she’s all in for swapping places with Kate Middleton for a month. “I’ve never been a mother... or a princess for that matter,” she quips.
Favorite part of the job: Every day there are new questions and issues to think about that require some strategic problem solving on my part. The TV business is constantly facing new challenges, and it’s an exciting place to be right now.
Biggest story: The biggest story is “Breaking Bad” and how SVOD catch-up-binging grew their audience in ways traditional marketing never could have achieved. It speaks to the importance of making shows available on new platforms, to enable the viewer to access shows when/where/how they want it and help keep shows alive.
Work-life balance: Work for a great boss who believes you need balance and encourages you to make it a priority.
President, National Advertising Sales, AMC Networks Advertising Sales
Manos is a matchmaker of sorts, pairing AMC, IFC and WE tv’s alluring programs with eligible and upstanding brands. These relationships stay stable by keeping things fresh through unique advertising opportunities like branded content. Up next is switching Sundance Channel’s revenue stream from a sponsorship model to an ad-supported network, a task she previously accomplished for IFC.
Favorite part of the job: The favorite part is working with the team at AMC Networks to assemble the best people available to be representatives of AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel and WE tv. We have been quite successful.
Work-life balance: “Do the duty nearest you”—a paraphrased quote from Thomas Carlyle. It shifts constantly between personal and professional needs, but any smart person knows the most pressing issue is the one at that particular moment.
Swapping jobs: I would like to swap jobs with a restaurant critic. I enjoy writing, and have very good opinions (in my opinion, of course!) on restaurants.
EVP, Business & Legal/Deputy General Counsel, Fox Networks Group
The second-highest ranking executive in the business and legal affairs division scored one for Fox Networks Group this year, winning the World Cup rights in 2018 and 2022. She was also involved in Fox’s NFL renewal, including the new 9-year deal that keeps the NFC package on Fox Sports through the 2022 season. She credits the success in workplace to “a team that works well together.” Teran, who wasn’t a sports fan when she joined Fox 14 years ago, has since found religion and counts herself an avid fan.
Favorite part of the job: My favorite part of my job is that it is totally unpredictable. Every day there are new problems to solve, new technologies to contemplate and new strategies to discuss, at a company that continues to make its name by pushing the envelope. It makes for a challenging and fulfilling job where there is no time to be bored!
Swapping jobs for a month: I would love to swap with Mario Batali. His multi-faceted culinary empire based on his level of cuisine and his business acumen strikes me as a fascinating place to learn about another business that is constantly expanding and recreating itself, both domestically and internationally. And having access to that food every day! Only problem is, I would need the following month off to spend at the gym...
SVP/Chief Programming Officer, Suddenlink
McCaskill and her team had another strong year of contract dealmaking with both broadcasters and programmers. Even the most difficult deals got done on reasonable terms, with no channels going dark. No small feat in a year marked by heated controversies. Among highlights, McCaskill added programming to the company’s online video service Suddenlink2GO, resulting in a jump in monthly streams. For this exec, though, the cable business is all about the people. “Whether they are at my company, the program networks we partner with, or folks across the industry I have worked with through WICT, CTAM, Cable Positive or at other industry events, these are special people who have enriched my life,” she says.
Work-life balance: First you need to identify daily/weekly/ monthly what is most important for personal and professional success and then focus on those important things one day at a time. One day it might be most important to attend a child’s recital, another getting a deal done. The challenge is recognizing you can’t do it all. Stop beating yourself up and get comfortable with the choices and compromises.
Few cable nets have undergone a transformation quite like IFC. What started as a sponsor-driven, indie movie network has shifted over three years into a mecca for outlandish originals and groundbreaking comedies. This eccentric evolution, birthed and nurtured under Caserta, has carved out a defining space on television. Besides “Portlandia’s” year-to-year ratings increase, Caserta looks to keep the weird coming with eleven new projects in the pipeline. With comedy woven into her DNA, it’s no surprise she envies the position of Lorne Michaels. “Who wouldn’t want to run ‘SNL’ and work with Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers?!” Caserta asks.
Favorite part of the job: I’m a huge comedy fan so I’m definitely in the right job. At IFC, we’re committed to producing sharp, smart comedies that are slightly off the beaten path. In my personal life, I love to keep everyone around me laughing and having fun. Comedy is just in my DNA!
Work-life balance: Balance? It’s never an equal 50% on both fronts. Some days I need to focus more on my family and personal life, and on others, like when I’m traveling for work or preparing for a big meeting, I lean more towards the professional. I do try to be proactive about carving out time for my family as well as for myself, but when the system falls short I try not to feel (too) guilty about it.
Former President, Travel Channel
Ong, who just left Travel Channel at the end of October, presided over a period of growth and change at the cable outlet. During her three-year tenure, she helped transform Travel Channel into more of a destination brand through such series as “Hotel Impossible,” Baggage Battles” and “Airport 24/7 Miami.” She also oversaw the launch of “The Layover” app, the No. 1 travel app on iTunes. Last year was the network’s most successful year with six consecutive months of year-over-year growth, and we’re sure we haven’t heard the last of her. Stay tuned...
What’s your favorite part of your job? The ability to find hidden gems within the organization and give them the confidence to reach their full potential.
Best trick for maintaining the personal-professional life balance? Have an equally strong network that is not work related and work in a culture that embraces the work/life balance.
How do you define success in the workplace? Having a team with a unified vision along with the passion and drive that allows for uncommon success.
COO, BBC Worldwide America
Sarnoff has been harbormaster of Britain’s finest imports and American domestic products. This year her network saw the welcome addition of the critically acclaimed British drama “Broadchurch,” and one-of-a-kind clone thriller “Orphan Black.” Network stalwarts have also undergone a technological boost with “Doctor Who” celebrating its 50th anniversary via a global simulcast and “Stig Cam” putting Tweeters in the Top Gear driver’s seat. True success for Sarnoff doesn’t reside in pumped-up profits, but people. “I like to find the best people, inspire them to achieve their personal and company goals, and have some fun in the process!,” she says.
Favorite part of the job: I love working with great brands, like the BBC, and helping to build them across platforms. In the U.S., we have a rabid base of passionate fans who motivate us all to do bigger and better things with our brand and show franchises.
Work-life balance: The advice that I most often give to new mothers who work is never to leave the house in the morning with regret – let your kids know that you love what you do and involve them in your work as much as possible. You’ll both be happier.
After decades of achievement in the cable industry, Tykeson was inducted into The Cable Center’s Hall of Fame earlier this year, joining the likes of Ted Turner and John Goddard. “Having been part of this great industry for over 30 years, I continue to be energized by the smart people and the opportunities and friendships that make it unique,” Tykeson says. Her energies this year resulted in expanded cloud and commercial services and the acquisition of KOHD-TV by sister company Zolo Media.
Biggest story: For me, it was Time Warner Cable’s decision to stand its ground on retransmission consent. We have some fundamental breakdowns occurring and the conversations about what those mean for consumers need to reach another level. The cable industry is burdened with many antiquated rules that have inadvertently changed the competitive landscape. Retrans is at the top of the list.
Defining workplace success: It’s about having a team culture so we can get it right for our customers, with the expectation of innovation, accountability and fun. At BendBroadband we continue to invest to advance our culture. Our company values are aligned with our brand. That pays off in terms of employee engagement, customer perceptions and results.
President, Turner Entertainment and Young Adults Ad Sales
It has been a little over a year since Speciale joined the Turner Entertainment and Young Adults ad sales division, and her stamp is firmly imprinted on the group. The fruits include an exclusive ad/marketing deal with MillerCoors covering virtually every Turner property. A key part of the deal has MillerCoors brands integrated into many TBS and TNT series. At Turner, she urges collaboration with crossdivisional deals that utilize the span of its portfolio. “I always enjoy meeting with marketers and brainstorming how together we can break the status quo, while driving more business for their brand,” she says.
Defining workplace success: Encouraging an environment with open dialogue with team mentality.
Work-life balance: It’s important to know that you will never do it all, while also being flexible and fluid to change.
Debbie Adler Myers
GM/EVP, Science Channel, Discovery Communications
Myers, who oversees the network’s programming, marketing and communications, has tongues wagging over Science Channel’s first scripted feature, “The Challenger Disaster,” starring William Hurt, Brian Dennehy and Bruce Greenwood. Myers regularly reads viewer mail to understand what viewers want. And sometimes she even writes back. “There’s nothing better than making a show that we’re really proud of and then hearing back from one of our hardcore fans that they loved it too,” she says.
Favorite part of the job: It sounds trite, but it’s working with my team. I am incredibly fortunate to work with an incredible group of professionals at Science Channel who are as passionate as they are brilliant. It makes it even easier to love my job.
Biggest story: The biggest story for me has been the power of AMC with “The Walking Dead” and “Breaking Bad.” When a cable network flexes their muscles like that, it raises the bar for all of us.
Work-life balance: At Science Channel, we just let one bleed into the other. We always have kids running around our offices and at events like Comic-Con or Punkin Chunkin, we encourage staff to bring their spouses and families. I think it’s enormously important for them to feel like they are part of the network, too.
Swapping jobs: The first name that popped into my head was Sheila Nevins, because I think everything she does at HBO is brilliant... but then I realized that it might be fun to switch with David Zaslav for a month.
More of the Most Powerful Women
Top Women in Technology
Cablefax People to Watch Luncheon
December 04, 2018
Digital & Tech Awards
December 07, 2018
Cablefax Leaders Retreat 2019
April 29, 2019