Janet Han Vissering

“Sharkfest” got even bigger and even better under Vissering’s supervision, driving Nat Geo’s annual special to new heights this year with hits including “Shark Beach With Chris Hemsworth.” Nat Geo added a week to this year’s Fest, leaving room for more programming for audiences to sink their teeth into. The end result? A staggering 24 million total viewers who tuned in. She’s also in tune with the balance of work and home life, having taken seven years off from full-time work to be with her kids. “It helped me grow as a mother and as a person. It gave me a great window on how people learn and how there’s no one way to attack a problem.”

Best advice for someone looking to re-enter the workforce after a hiatus?
I would not apologize. Use the time off as a great selling point. What creative areas did you hone in on or grow? Don’t explain the time off as a negative. Think about the positive aspects of taking a hiatus. As a matter of fact, I took seven years off and worked part time to be with my children. I had the time to work with my son who had been diagnosed with a learning disability. It helped me grow as a mother and as a person. It gave me a great window on how people learn and how there’s no one way to attack a problem. Lastly, you should never judge a book by the cover.

Do you have an example of male allyship that made a difference to you?
I would have to say David Haslingden was a great mentor for me. He was incredible as a businessman and he really helped launch the Nat Geo brand as a channel globally. He was a tough boss but he was always compassionate and incredibly loyal and supportive to his team. He used to say, “Don’t be an a–hole, and you will go far.” He also would tell me “assumption is the reason for all failures.” He would let me know when I was wrong but would always pivot to help me learn from failed projects. I never left a meeting feeling bad—quite the opposite as I was incredibly empowered.

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