Nearly a year after former NAMIC chief Nicol Turner-Lee left the organization, Simons came out of retirement in June to carry on the NAMIC mantle. His 30 years of experience in the industry—21 of them at Cablevision, most recently as EVP of Cablevision’s Rainbow Advertising Sales Company—has primed Simons for the tough task of revitalizing this important industry organization. Simons sees the task of addressing diversity in an increasingly consolidated market as a challenge, given that M&A can lead to fewer positions. But he also sees an opportunity for NAMIC to step in and educate companies and talent on navigating change moving forward.
What’s the definition of diversity in 2014, and how can the cable industry do better in the area of inclusiveness?
From my perspective, diversity in now defined by the symbiotic relationship that exists between inclusion and profitability. An outcome of this development has been an urgency amongst executive leaders and corporate board members to create sustainable pathways that support the career advancement and professional mobility of ethnic minorities within the marketplace. Continued CEO support for such initiatives is critical to maintaining and building upon our current progress.
Who has been your strongest mentor, and why?
My strongest mentor has been Robert “Bob” Holland, Jr., former partner of the global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company and the first African American president and CEO of the ice cream manufacturer, Ben & Jerry’s. A trusted colleague and friend, Bob’s wise counsel and sage advice have greatly contributed to my growth and development as an executive leader.
What qualities do you look for when making a new hire?
When making new hires I look for leadership, breadth of knowledge and potential. Professionals that have clearly demonstrated the ability to effectively guide teams, and contribute to the achievement of management goals and objectives are essential to an organization’s success. Individuals that can see the big picture or innovative idea and develop and facilitate systems that support the implementation of projects derived from such concepts are invaluable.