VP, Security, Cisco

With a PhD in mathematics from Tel-Aviv University, and experience as the head of the Biostatistical Department at Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Villa has unique insights into the mechanics of data science, machine learning and statistics in the cable industry and beyond. And she has applied these competencies to Cisco’s strategy of developing preventive and predictive analytics in the security space. The FCC’s pending set-top box proceeding is the biggest story in cable this year, according to the exec. “If executed correctly, this could radically redefine not only the set-top box market, but the entire cable TV experience,” she says.


Which sector of the cable industry best demonstrates gender equality? Which could use some enlightenment?

The only place where gender equality can be found in the cable industry is probably the viewers. There we woman overwhelm the men by almost 20 percent a day. Other than that, we have a long way to go. I think programming for women has improved tremendously over the past two decades, although women still get unfairly stereotyped left and right in mainstream programming. In the industry, I look forward to seeing more women in engineering, sales and leadership roles. I think we have a lot of value to offer the industry.


What advice would you give your 13-year-old self?

Follow your passion. The way to break through glass ceilings is to be the best at what you’re doing, and you will never be the best at something you’re not passionate about. If you love something, you can become great at it, and if you’re great at something, door will open up for you.


What’s been the biggest story in cable this year?

The FCC’s (somewhat stalled) move to mandate free TV apps, so subscribers could get rid of their set-top-boxes, is probably the biggest story of the year. If executed correctly, this could radically redefine not only the set-top-box market, but the entire cable TV experience. It could usher in a wave of rapid innovation around how TV is consumed in and out of the home. If executed poorly, it could be a disaster, not least of which in the area of content and service protection. These new apps will need to be able to prevent piracy at least as well as today’s set top boxes do.

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