EVP, Portfolio Sales & Client Partnerships, Ad Sales, Turner Broadcasting
Cukaj is a well-respected sales leader who believes in the power of teamwork and taking risks. In 2015, under the leadership of ad sales president Donna Speciale, the sales leadership team became portfolio-focused, with specific go-to market strategies by agency, while Cukaj also took oversight of the Northeast and Detroit regions on behalf of Turner Ad Sales. “My agency partners have done a good job with gender equality at the highest levels,” she says. “We’ve come a long way… [but] I believe that it’s my side of the cable sales industry that needs to continue to improve.”
Which sector of the cable industry best demonstrates gender equality? Which could use some enlightenment?
My agency partners have done a good job with gender equality at the highest levels. I believe that it’s my side of the cable sales industry that needs to continue to improve. We’ve come a long way, and I’ve been fortunate to work hard for my role as well as have some great leaders and bosses to advocate for me throughout my career. There’s more work to be done, and I’m personally committed to this effort.
What advice would you give your 13-year-old self?
Don’t be afraid to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and never compromise your integrity.
Which current programming best reflects the kind of women’s roles you like to see and why?
I’m inspired by the courage, tenacity, integrity and downright smarts of women in the news business like Gloria Borger of CNN, who is insightful about the world of politics, while putting things in perspective with integrity and class, even when a story may be challenging to report; also, Arwa Damon of CNN, who embodies courage and compassion, while working meticulously to bring a story to the world. These are women who have traits of extraordinary leaders and play important roles.
What’s been the biggest story in cable this year?
The biggest story in cable this year has been the 2016 Presidential Election and how brands engage with the biggest story of the year.