Nomi Bergman is a leader whose rational optimism, integrity, passion and kindness have guided her to the top of one of the leading cable companies in the country. As president of Bright House Networks, which she helped launch in 2003, it’s clear she’s operations through and through. But she didn’t think she’d go into the family cable business. In fact, she initially tried to avoid it, hoping to launch her career on her own.
Her first job out of college was for Arthur Andersen’s consulting business, now Accenture, doing programming and systems development. But a stubborn cousin, Mark Newhouse, eventually convinced her to consult for Advance Publications’ Systems Group. And then, her father gave the group a bunch of cable work. “The other consultants were longtime newspaper experts, so they gave the cable work to me. So before I knew it I was working in cable!” And by the time she successfully pulled together a cross-functional team to unify the billing systems of Newhouse’s three cable companies? Forgetaboutit. She was hooked.
It all comes back to her love of operations. “It’s about making everything work altogether. And, in cable operations, we have the good fortune of working with a diverse cross section of employees,” she says. Another favorite career moment was her tenure at Time Warner Cable as VP and GM of High Speed Data Services in Charlotte, NC, where she launched Road Runner broadband. “It was the beginning days of launching high-speed data, so you were given really a license to build a whole end-to-end business,” from hiring all personnel, to creating the division’s first website to building a content strategy from the ground up. “It’s rare that you get to start with a blank slate. Those were great times with wonderful learnings.” Moreover, there was a healthy dose of camaraderie between the other Road Runner market GMs. “There were many times we had late night phone calls, to seek help with solving a problem, etc. They all helped me so much.”
When asked to name her mentors throughout the years, true to form, Bergman defers to those she’s worked with. In particular, she’s proud of the “commitment culture” that distinguished Bright House. “We were committed to our employees, and I like to think we set an environment in which it was comfortable to take risk, make a suggestion or decision to improve our approach. Our team felt empowered to take great care of our customers, and each other.” The numerous accolades Bright House collected for customer service awards are ample proof.
Another shining example of what they were able to accomplish was the company’s “Hello Friend” branding, Bergman says. “I think it’s very gutsy of a cable company to boldly say in the marketplace that we aspire to view our customers as our friends. That’s a very risky thing to do, and I think we were only able to pull it off because we had such an amazing team that really each had each other’s back.”
Part of Bergman’s success stems from her adaptability—not only in terms of her ability to navigate new technologies, but also in her talent for listening attentively to her colleagues, employees and, quite frankly, any person she encounters who might offer a bit of advice along the way. And then there’s the work she’s done for women in technology. “Leader. Mentor. Role model. These are just a few of the attributes that come to mind when I think of Nomi Bergman,” says WICT President & CEO, CAE, Maria Brennan. “As one of the cable’s most accomplished and respected professionals, Nomi has used her influence to advance the industry—and in particular women—making significant contributions to building a stronger pipeline of leaders.” For instance, she was a catalyst and founding executive/advisor to both WICT programs “Tech it Out Initiative” and the “Women’s Tech-Connect Mentoring Program.”
A lifelong learner, Bergman will undoubtedly continue her quest for personal and professional growth. So what’s next, post Bright House acquisition? She’ll work for parent company Advance, continuing to help them grow its business and investments in areas like big data. But we wonder if Bergman will be able to stay away from operating for long. Somebody might snatch her up.