SCTE member since 1989 Title: Director of Video Engineering Kansas, Arkansas, Cox Communications Recent accomplishment: Marts is the 2006 Women in Technology award winner in recognition of her unique achievements in the cable industry. See the June issue of CT for the full story. What was your first job in cable? I was hired on as an installer 22 years ago. I’ve actually reported to this same facility since I started working here, and I’ve worked for four different cable companies throughout that time. I joined with Air Capital Cablevision , small company here in Kansas. What were some of your biggest challenges in the early days? Probably the biggest challenge in the beginning was finding warm clothes that fit a female. Most of linesman gear at that time was made for men, so it was hard to find boots, climbing gear, and warm gear for these cold Kansas winters. What were some of the challenges of working in a male-dominated industry? Most of all it was proving that I knew my stuff, that I was just as capable doing the job as they were and sticking to my guns. I could climb a pole. I didn’t cry when it got cold. It was really fun to prove to people that I knew what I was doing. What prior experiences helped you do your job as an installer and tech? I have to attribute that (work ethic) to growing up on a family farm with a strong family unit. There were a lot of chores to do, and I think that contributed to my mechanical abilities. Basically, if something broke, we had to fix it or figure out how to fix it. My parents taught all of us kids to be self-reliant, straightforward and honest, and I think that helped me deal with people that I met at Cablevision in an up-front manner. It taught me to be a straight shooter. Can you share some of your best cable-related experiences? I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest people in the cable industry. It has also afforded me the ability to travel, especially in the last few years. I’ve been surrounded by so many smart and dedicated people that it’s hard to pick out one experience. I think the thing I’ve enjoyed the most is the camaraderie of the people in this industry even in the most extreme conditions. I can remember late night outages, working suck-outs in the freezing winter. It would be hard for me to pick out one best experience. What were some of the worst experiences from those early years? We live in tornado alley here. The cable company I work for here has survived a couple of tornados. My husband (Jeff Marts) is a very patient man, but I’ve been called out many times in the middle of night to troubleshoot outages. Whether it was in the middle of a thunderstorm or blizzard, that’s just part of cable industry. Overall, it’s been a very exciting experience. What advice do you have for men and women in the cable industry? I would say never be satisfied with status quo. You’re only limited with what you’re willing to put out. Keep sight of your goal and forge ahead. I really think it’s your attitude and your outlook that can determine whether or not you excel. Your hard work, dedication and desire can overcome just about any obstacle in your path. I’ve been told more than once that I’m stubborn. I just can’t give up once I really set my mind to it. That can be good or bad, but people can use that type of attitude to their advantage. Who are some of your mentors? My parents (Cheo and Wilma Kirkland) provided me with a good work ethic. They played a huge part in where I am today. Another individual is Percy Kirk. He was here in Kansas when I joined Air Capital Cablevision 22 years ago. He was one of my supervisors, and he taught me a lot about leadership skill as well as how to enhance my technical ability. Another one was Richard Abraham. He recently retired from Cox here, and he was a great influence. He introduced me to world of headends and RF engineering. Also my current supervisor Nicholas DiPonzio. He definitely led me to where I’m at now. He has helped me in the last few years understand the business side of cable. What was your reaction to winning the Women in Technology award? Quite honestly, I’m very surprised and very, very honored to be chosen for this award. In the past, the recipients of this award were vice presidents and corporate executives. I’m a middle manager working in the field. I was pretty shocked, and I think it kind of reflects how lucky I am to be surrounded by highly motivated people. They’re truly the ones who are responsible for my department’s performance, and I owe a lot to those folks. What are some of the current challenges with video? It seems like a product can be outdated before I get a chance to get it implemented. The biggest challenge is trying to stay ahead of the curve. It’s like buying your computer; by the time you make your decision on which one to purchase, there are already bigger, badder, faster ones out there. That’s the way it seems to be with technology as well.