The development, production and programming teams at Discovery Channel, Science and Velocity rely on Williams-Fauntroy to negotiate complex deals and transactions, but she also advises internal clients on liability issues involving privacy, defamation, publicity, copyrights and more. When considering new hires, she says being an accomplished candidate isn’t always enough. “Of utmost importance is that a candidate speaks with candor and with truth about his or her experience and skill set,” she says. “It’s ok to admit where you have areas for development. Use those areas as places where you would like to stretch your skill set.”
What’s the definition of diversity in 2014, and how can the cable industry do better in the area of inclusiveness?
Diversity is demonstrated when you have a variety of voices in your presence. Whether you are watching TV, reading something in print, sitting with others in the board room, or in a strategy session or in your weekly staff meeting, diversity means that the people and energy in that space are not homogenous. Diversity brings layers of opinions and personalities; it spices up what is bland and it potentially opens each mind to something new. In our industry there are a good number of fields that would benefit from a wider range of voices and opinions and even in the fields where diversity is present, it is critical that corporate teams listen to opinions brought to the table from people’s experiences and their varied backgrounds. Those experiences can help make business decisions more informed.
Who has been your strongest mentor, and why?
My strongest mentor is a seasoned, smart and well-regarded media business and legal executive whom I have known for twenty years since my law school days. Part of the reason why she has been so effective for me as a mentor is because she has been candid about her own experiences and she has been honest with me about how I can better myself personally and professionally. She has looked out for me since I was early in my career, making sure that I have had her guidance along the way as I’ve navigated work and life. She appreciates hard work and she and I share common views on how to treat people, how to manage work issues and how to keep sane outside of work. She’s been a person of incredible value to me.
What qualities do you look for when making a new hire?
This is a competitive environment and great jobs, particularly at great companies like Discovery, are highly sought after so it is important for candidates to distinguish themselves from other applicants. Of utmost importance is that a candidate speaks with candor and with truth about his or her experience and skill set. It’s ok to admit where you have areas for development; use those areas as places where you would like to stretch your skill set. Among other things, an ideal candidate for a job will show solid familiarity or, if needed, deep knowledge in the substantive area in which they will work, willingness to do more than is asked and a genuine interest in the field (more than just saying “I love watching your network”). Candidates with energy present well and arrogance is a turn off. A succinct and grammatically correct resume is a no-brainer and thank you note, especially a hand written one, goes a long way.