The leap from teaching data processing to high school seniors to supporting technology and services for the cable industry was not only serendipitous for Cyndee Everman, it was also a seamless transition to a job she knew best: computers and data processing.
Those skills – combined with other personal qualities – would lead to a stellar career in cable and to her current position as vice president, operational support systems (OSS) for Time Warner Cable. They also led to this year’s coveted Women in Technology Award, presented annually by the SCTE and Women in Cable and Telecommunications to the female technology professional who has made significant contributions to the cable and telecommunications industry. Career overview Everman’s contributions date back to 1981 when she joined the cable industry, and include groundbreaking work with the industry’s first venture into two-way interactive services, Warner Amex’s Qube.
A string of system deployments that have supported new products and services would follow, and a clear focus on customer care, marketing and billing systems was to define her career.
And most recently, Everman’s efforts in building and supporting Time Warner Cable’s Customer Care Value Creation (CVC) program, along with its "Advanced Agent Desktop" product designed to give the company’s customer service representatives a "360-degree view" of the customer, are becoming industry benchmarks.
But her career statistics go well beyond her work within customer care, billing and marketing disciplines. Her impact throughout the industry has been substantial, with many benefiting from her unique ability to connect with people.
"People just gravitate towards her. She’s very bright and can pull it all together in strategic direction and knows where the technology is going. I’ve really learned a lot from Cyndee, and everyone I know talks about her ‘soft’ skills and what a valuable person she is. She really epitomizes what this award is all about," said Nomi Bergman, executive vice president of strategy and development for Bright House Networks. Special qualities For Everman, however, it wasn’t always about cable marketing, billing and customer care. Initially, it was about teaching.
"I quickly realized that I enjoyed teaching. It was hard work, but a lot of fun. But I was only making $10,000 a year and had no real-life experience in business to share with my students. So I left for a job in computer programming," she said.
For a while, Everman worked second shift in programming so she could continue to teach during the day. Then came her break into cable. "When my teaching supervisor told me of a job in the technology field that she felt I would be good at – which would allow me to use my teaching skills – I took the job at Warner Amex in Columbus, Ohio," she said.
Her first assignment would be a baptism of fire called Qube.
"I started by teaching about the technology of Qube, impulse PPV (pay per view) and polling activities. Our first PPV event was a fight for $15, and we were eager to use the new technology to see how many people actually watched it, in real time. My role was to teach people how to use the proprietary Qube software and hardware. It was pretty amazing," she said.
The link between teaching and technology was strong. "It was all new ‘stuff’ back then, and I could create my own training materials. We were changing the technology, and the business, really," she said.
Change would accompany Everman as her career at Warner Amex, soon to become Time Warner, took shape. And others were beginning to notice qualities – such as insight and persistence – that made Everman an especially effective agent of change herself.
"She showed the ability to see through the lens at the needs of the customer and the company," said Carol Hevey, Time Warner executive vice president of operations. "You never heard her say ‘it can’t be done.’ It wasn’t always easy, but she would always find a way to get it done."
Those qualities have made Everman an indispensable team member. "Without Cyndee, I don’t think a lot of the products and services would have been possible. A great number of people have depended on her, and still do. She’s always come through for us," Hevey said. Different disciplines For Everman, her cable career from day one has been a journey through many different disciplines within the industry, and Time Warner specifically.
"I was young and working hard when I began in Columbus preparing to build out and deploy the Qube technology. It was an exciting time, and I was fortunate to have had lots of mentors," she recalled. "But the leveraged buyout was in play, and I wasn’t sure where it was going. That’s when Warner Amex’s decision not to pursue Qube was made. It led me to a new career path – back office, OSS and billing systems."
The experience would stay with Everman throughout her career and added an important dimension to her skill set, and to the people around her, as well.
Said Bergman: "She was the quiet glue that held people together. They listened to her. And she could work well with all the technical people at Time Warner Cable, which required much collaboration to do the back office piece of the business, because there were so many pieces."
One of the key pieces, the billing system, has been a crucial component in Time Warner’s overall operation, and Everman has been instrumental in advancing it to where it is today.
"I’ve known Cyndee for 20 years, and she’s the best person I’ve ever seen in the billing system," said Kevin Leddy, Time Warner Cable executive vice president. "It sounds simple now, but I don’t think PPV and VOD (video on demand) would have happened without Cyndee to get them introduced."
For Everman, it’s always been about teamwork, empowerment and passion. The emerging role of women is part of her story, as is the rise of OSS and information technology (IT) in cable.
"Cable was pretty much a man’s game in the early 1980s," she said. "I remember being the only woman in a lot of technology meetings. The priority was always in the plant. So the challenge was getting what we needed on the OSS, billing and customer care sides of the house. As the only woman in several meetings, I was often thought of as being the logical one to be asked to take notes. Now I look around and the landscape has changed."
Not only has technology has shifted toward software and automation, but the workforce has, too. "I’m definitely not the only woman in our meetings," Everman said, adding that diversity is an important part of her own team. Leadership She’s definitely a valuable resource and leader. "She has become a significant contributor to Time Warner Cable and a thought leader for IT, as well as an innovator and implementer. She has the technical skills, the vision and management expertise that has served our company well. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award than Cyndee," said Mike Lajoie, Time Warner CTO.
Receiving the Women in Technology Award isn’t likely to slow down Everman’s career, however. "I never imagined when I walked in the door of Warner Amex that I’d find my passion and be with the same company for so many years. But the industry and its people continue to teach me new things every day. And today, it’s all about customer care and marketing tools," she said.
Amidst strong competition for technical talent and customers, cable IT is playing an ever more strategic role. "Our focus has been around continued technology innovations, smarter marketing and better customer care tools on the desktop," said Everman. "This is part of the challenge in (TWC president and CEO) Glenn Britt’s commitment of ‘we’ll do better’ in each of these areas."
As a change agent within a dynamic industry, Everman is a key player in Time Warner’s commitment to competition, multiple product lines and workforce diversity. "More and more women are being promoted from within, and a lot of that comes from the top," she said.
Getting better has defined Everman’s career and has made her one of the top women executives in the industry, along with making valuable contributions to the industry through her work with WICT, where she currently serves as president of the WICT of the Carolinas Chapter.
Her achievements have not gone unnoticed. She was nominated for the Women in Cable and Telecommunications Walk of Fame in 2003 and made it into Cable World’s "Top 100 Women in Technology" for several years in a row.
"Cyndee is an incredible professional, human being and representative of our industry," said Ann Carlson, president of Carlson Resources and a former president of WICT. "It’s wonderful to have a woman from the IT field. It lets other women know that there are many ways to enter the technology field in cable." Raising the bar Being a teacher – or being able to absorb, process, collaborate and inspire – may be Everman’s hidden asset. Her capacity to grow and learn and motivate others to do the same has been an particularly good fit for a culture that requires it.
"I’m especially grateful to (TWC Chief Information Officer) Frank Boncimino," she said. "He has raised the bar for me and pushed me into learning new technologies, data warehousing and marketing. He continues to encourage me to stretch. I owe him a lot for my personal growth over the past five years."
"This honor is huge for me."
Craig Kuhl is a contributor to Communications Technology. Reach him at email@example.com. Sidebar: Past Winners Past Women in Technology award recipients include:
2007: Carolyn Terry
2006: Vicki Marts
2005: Charlotte Field
2004: Nomi Bergman
2003: Marci Anderson
2002: Christy Martin
2001: Sabrina Calhoun
2000: Margaret Gaillard
1999: Sally Kinsman
1998: Sheri Stinchcomb
1997: Yvette Gordon-Kanouff
1996: Pam Nobles
1995: Pam Arment
The Women in Technology award is a joint effort of Women in Cable Telecommunications, the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers and Communications Technology. The award itself is sponsored by CommScope and presented at the Cable-Tec Expo annual awards luncheon.