With WICT feting this year’s leaders at its fall gala, meet two relative newcomers who have already achieved great success, taking distinctly different career paths.

I’d bet the Moon that few of you know Dana Freeman, 31, a new mother who works as a sales account executive at A&E Television Networks. She’s not a joiner of organizations like WICT and in her own words does not mix business with pleasure. She runs in a different crowd by day, managing a slew of advertising clients. At night she takes care of her baby (judging by the picture, Addison can take care of herself). Dana’s close friends are not from the cable industry.

She’s better known on Madison Avenue, where she has worked on the advertising client side of the business since 1998. In that period she has climbed the ladder, at the same company, earning three promotions and new responsibilities.

In the next five years she sees herself as Vice President of ad sales there. Like many A&E’ers who have been at the company for a long time, she finds the environment nurturing. That’s a benefit unheard of today, the company picking up all health care insurance, with no employee contribution, and is a mighty potential carrot to stay the course.

She came to A&E, her first job after graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in English. She quickly found the financial side of the business was her calling.

By contrast meet Heidi Tan, if you can find her. She’s moved around a lot. Tan, 28, has worked at and had numerous promotions with three cable networks since interning at Showtime Networks in 1999 while pursing a political science degree at the University of California at Los Angeles.

She now works at Bloomberg LP in New York, and like all employees there, she has no title, although she works in public relations, having done many jobs since her arrival in June 2006, ranging from affiliate marketing, consumer advertising, Internet, and trade show and events.

Between Bloomberg and Showtime, where she worked in affiliate sales and marketing for four years, she moved to Fox Cable Networks for three years, largely as a marketing coordinator.

Ms. Tan enjoys cable’s networking circuit, is a member of many cable organizations and was the inspiration for this column after I met her at an event. She sees herself staying in cable and has no idea where she will be in five years.

One could say this is a modern day version of "The Tortoise and the Hare," but clearly, both women are winners. So clip out this column when the next headhunter comes calling, asking if you are a tortoise or a hare? Just say it’s all relative.

Veteran cable journalist and CableWorld columnist Marianne Paskowski can be reached at mpcable@verizon.net or 508-255-1901. She welcomes reader input, benign or malignant.

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