There’s no better barometer of the future for women in cable than a look at its rising stars. To celebrate 30 years of WICT, we decided to profile women in their 30s. Some of them felt cable could do more to nurture women, most acknowledged challenges in the work-life balance and nearly all cited the emergence of multiple platforms as cable’s most exciting trend.
Senior Marketing Director, ION Media Networks
A cornerstone of ION’s new marketing department, Addeo oversees consumer, sales, distribution and corporate divisions. She was integral to ION Television’s multimillion-dollar re-launch, which presaged a 67% year-to-year jump in prime time viewers in ’08, according to ION. Addeo cites "learning how to negotiate guilt" and "staying ahead of technology" among the key items for young women in cable. She’s most excited about cable series’ "strong female characters." From The Closer to Damages, "the door is now wide open for women to land these coveted roles."
VP, Program Marketing & Advertising, Showtime
Allen oversees consumer advertising for Showtime and leads the development of integrated marketing plans supporting the network’s originals. She’s spearheaded campaigns for Weeds, Dexter, The Tudors and Showtime’s new series The United States of Tara. The top issue on the minds of 30-something cable execs is not gender specific: "The issue facing everyone right now is the current economic crisis and how it will impact the business." That aside, Allen feels now is the best time to be in cable. "The traditional broadcast networks no longer have a monopoly on quality programming. The best dramas and comedies are now on cable and it’s exciting to be part of this golden age."
VP, Communications, Sales & Marketing, International & New Technologies, ESPN
There’s nobody in cable with a better attitude than Katina Arnold, or a nicer smile. Has that upbeat personality helped her career? Besides a Cecil Fielder homerun ball, nothing has risen faster at ESPN than Arnold’s star. Just look at her title, which strains the width of her business card. Yet it’s accurate — the woman seems to do it all, answering reporters’ questions, prepping execs and talent for interviews, arranging affiliate events and, oh, yes, coordinating global communications for sports’ worldwide leader. The Betsy Magness grad also is lead communicator on new technologies, an ESPN strong suit. Her toughest job, certainly her most rewarding, is being mommy to Alex, 3, and Lia, 21 months. "You really have to juggle," she says, "but I’m very fortunate…everyone here has been so understanding." Her secret: "do it now, there won’t be time later."
VP, Marketing, WOW!
After directing the launch in 2005 of WOW! phone service, the company’s fastest-growing product line, Brown has been on a steady path of leadership within the WOW! executive ranks. In addition to phone service, Brown leads the strategic development and implementation of the company’s video and Internet service and last year oversaw the policy and process changes to make WOW! a recognized CLEC and bring phone services in-house. She views innovations that augment the customer experience as the most exciting recent trend in cable and notes, "Companies and organizations can foster the growth and success of women by providing tangible support for a healthy work-life balance."
Corporate Communications Manager, Time Warner Cable
"I would like to see women taking more control of their own careers. Who else is going to do it?" deadpans the affable Buchanan. "Statistically, women do not negotiate on their own behalf nearly as much as men, nor do we proactively discuss promotions and accomplishments with our managers." Noting the importance of women working on the technical side to stay connected with other women, the 2007 WICT Rising Leaders designee says a quote from journalist Sydney J. Harris helps keep her grounded: "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain."
Director of Operations, NBA Digital/Turner Sports, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Buckley has risen steadily through the ranks and now manages didtal operations for Turner’s NBA arm. The former president of WICT’s Atlanta chapter cautions cable women not to be too hard on themselves: "Do not rate yourself as an employee, a wife, a mother, or a friend on a daily basis, because inevitably something will lose," she says. Instead, reflect over the course of the year. If you gave a lot of yourself to each of those, then you know you are on the right track." She urges companies to invest in programs that help nurture women until those efforts "work themselves out of relevance. "
SVP, Strategy & Initiatives, WICT
Despite industry strides there’s nearly 5% fewer women in senior executive positions since 2003, when WICT’s PAR initiative began collecting data, says Das. As such, she’s been a palpable force behind WICT’s push for an industry-wide approach to promoting women that would plan several years ahead. This strategy would "provide development opportunities that would keep the pipeline filled with ready talent," she argues. On another front Das is encouraged by cable’s recognition that women no longer are a niche market, noting VOD orders of female-targeted content tripled over 18 months.
VP, Legal, Travel Channel
The former Discovery VP has hit her stride at Travel Channel, where she guides legal affairs with thoughtfulness and business acumen as the network pushes physical and programming boundaries. Hwu sums up the key to balancing personal and business success in one word: Mindfulness. "I started the year at a yoga retreat in Bhutan, so mindfulness has become my watchword for 2009. I believe that you’re not doing something well if you’re not doing it mindfully, and that’s true both at work and at home."
Executive Producer, Evening Programming, The Weather Channel
She may share a name with the actress, but Jones is in a class by herself when it comes to transforming Weather’s evening lineup from forecast-only fare to a mix of long-form series and specials that highlight both Mother Nature’s grace and wrath. Jones, whose second child was born days before this interview, has a solid handle on the life-work balance. "I accepted the fact that it is OK to not be perfect all the time," she says. "There will be times where my family will have to bend a bit more to make my career soar, and times where I’ll have to give more time to my family."
Senior Manager, Distribution, GSN
With the Sony/Liberty-owned gaming hot spot carried in more than 66 million homes, Krumper and the distribution team are focusing on linear television and digital formats, the latter space opening avenues for specific games, like the recent Catch 21-Cellufun deal. Recently promoted to senior manager, Krumper believes love is the answer to the proverbial question. "We all love our families, but it’s also OK to love your job," she says. "They both require hard work and determination. I believe you should use the love of your family to fuel your desire for professional success."
Senior Manager, Finance and Strategy, ESPN Enterprises
As one of the people who holds ESPN’s money playbook in her hands, Mesh helps guide Bristol’s strategies as it increasingly moves into a multiplatform world. Cable’s many technological applications make her job fun. "DVR, on demand, ‘start over,’ interactive TV…Every time I turn on the TV I feel like I discover a new feature," she says. Aside from helping to steer successes on the Internet and in mobile realms, Mesh took time to persue two personal highs in 2008: She was married in September and ran her first NYC Marathon a few weeks later.
Manager, Business Affairs, National Geographic Channels International
Fresh from a stint working in Nat Geo’s U.K. office, Price is more convinced than ever of the importance of pushing the personal and professional envelope. Women moving through cable’s ranks are "looking for that next challenge," she says. "Taking the initiative to explore opportunities in your company can offer that next challenge, whether it’s the opportunity to work on new projects, develop a special expertise or take advantage of professional development training." As multiple platforms accelerate the potential for revenue, Price says cable networks are increasingly challenged to think more creatively and strategically.
Marketing Manager, Creative Services (Texoma Region), Suddenlink
As if overseeing all mass-market demand generation – including direct mail, outdoor advertising, radio, broadcast and print media — for Suddenlink in Oklahoma and East Texas weren’t enough, Rutledge and the Texoma team last year had to find creative ways of dealing with the devastating effects of Hurricane Ike in some of the operator’s footprint. She’s encouraged by the advancement of women into upper management roles, specifically at the regional and corporate levels. "It’s a great thing to see so much female presence in these roles," Rutledge says. "I only see this trend becoming more prominent throughout the industry."
VP, Production, On-Air, Cartoon Network
The times are a changin’ at Cartoon, and Seales is helping lead the expansion into live-action shows and themed programming blocks. Her prowess in marrying programming and marketing initiatives earned her a promotion in November. She now has more direct oversight of on-camera promotions, plus she assigns projects and budgets. Negotiating the work/life balance is challenging for women in their 30s, she admits. "Many have either begun having a family or are starting to think about having one. It’s also a very critical time in a woman’s career. And the challenge is just as great for single women because their supervisors may assume because they don’t have small children or a husband at home, they can work as late as possible. Finding ways to set boundaries is absolutely critical."
Director, Business Development, MTV Networks
MTV continues to grab attention for its myriad attempts to evolve in the digital domain. The innovative Schuchardt has been at the nexus of some of the most salient strategic partnerships – including AT&T and Pepsi — across the company’s networks, from MTV to Spike to Comedy Central. The former Google exec cautions women not to shy away from making their mark in digital. "Women have to take responsibility for breaking into digital, a traditionally male-dominated field, as pioneers like Judy McGrath and Cyma Zarghami once broke the glass ceiling in cable." She says segueing into management can be "a tricky balancing act" for young women, but advises, "You have a responsibility to evolve yourself."
Leading Women by the Numbers
Talk about changing times. In 1965 roughly 1 in 4 mothers was a member of the U.S. workforce. By 2004 that number had nearly tripled, the U.S. Census Bureau says. Today, a record 68 million are employed in the U.S. Still, as the figures below indicate, women have a way to go—mothers or not.
36.4%: Percentage of cable workforce that are women. *
46%: Percentage of women in the U.S. labor force. +
47%: Projected percentage of women in the labor force by 2016. +
22%: The percentage of senior executives in cable who are women. *
49%: The total labor force will grow between 2006 and 2016; women are estimated to be 49% of that increase. +
82%: Percentage of 2008 U.S. layoffs that targeted men. *
4.5%: The unemployment rate for U.S. women in 2007. +
7.5%: The unemployment rate for black women in 2007. +
80%: The estimated percentage of consumer spending decisions made by women. Yet women earn just 80 cents for every dollar that men earn, Labor estimates. The pay inequity that women have experienced for decades means that many households are struggling on 78 cents for every $1.78 previously earned by a working couple, WICT says. + *
56%: Participating companies in WICT’s PAR initiative that reported having a formal pay equity policy. *
15.1%: Percentage of women in cable’s technology ranks. *
sources: * WICT | + U.S. Department of Labor