Cornileus encourages employees to use educational programs like Leadership GPS and ESPN The University to create their own career path. After all, she accomplished the same thing herself by taking a business-focused assignment. “Following that experience, I became a business leader first, who happened to have a special expertise in learning and organization development,” she says. “I never approached the work in the same way again.” Cornileus believes a diverse team working in an inclusive environment yields “products and services that reflect the diversity of the audiences the industry serves.”

What’s the definition of diversity in 2014, and how can the cable industry do better in the are of inclusiveness?

In its simplest form, diversity means “difference.” It is the awareness, understanding, appreciation, and inclusion of those differences that make diversity within organizations a competitive advantage. Diversity of people, cultures, perspectives, products and services provide a wealth of opportunity for our companies, our nation, and our world. The cable industry has a great opportunity to demonstrate inclusiveness beginning with who is invited to participate in strategy and product development, decision making at the highest levels.

If that team of people is diverse and the environment is inclusive, then the products and services will reflect the diversity of the audiences the industry serves.

What’s been your company’s biggest innovation this year?

During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, ESPN flexed its innovation muscle by leveraging the content across all platforms and reaching record audiences on TV, digital and mobile. The company built a set that captured the beauty and excitement of the region, hired expert analysts recognizable to soccer fans worldwide, and created and produced compelling stories that engaged even the most casual fan.

Who has been your strongest mentor, and why?

I’ve had the great fortune of having mentors in my life, all of whom have enabled my growth both personally and professionally. Perhaps the strongest mentor was a leader that challenged me to take an 18-month rotational assignment as a general manager for one of the company’s call centers.

As a learning and organization development professional, I had never worked on the “business” side of the operation. I was reluctant and initially declined the offer until he told me something rather provocative. He said that everyone knew of my skillset as a learning/OD leader, what this assignment represented was an opportunity to demonstrate the transferability of my skillset to other roles. I decided to take the assignment and was highly successful in the role, such that I increased the profitability of the call center and enhanced my own business acumen. When I returned to the learning/OD function, I was a different professional. Following that experience, I became a business leader first, who happened to have a special expertise in learning and organization development. I never approached the work in the same way again. That experience taught me that it pays to step outside of your comfort zone, take on challenges, keep learning, and look for those opportunities to apply your skills in new ways. His advice is advice I now give to others who are seeking new ways to continue their career development.

What qualities do you look for when making a new hire?

I look for a person with integrity, intellectual curiosity, work ethic, likability, and adaptability. I believe an employee who possesses those qualities is bound for success in any role he or she pursues.

Name one emerging trend in cable we should all have our eyes on.

I believe Over the Top (OTT) content delivery of audio, video, and other media over the Internet without the involvement or distribution of a multiple system operator (MSO) is a trend we should all have our eyes on. It has the potential to disrupt the market in terms of how consumers access content and the relationship between programmers and MSOs, and the financial implications of a new relationship. I also believe the intelligent use of consumer data is also a trend that we should have our eyes on as it enables content providers/programmers to know their audiences more deeply and personalize products and services to the individual.

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