Coax may run through Gessner’s veins, but taking over the family business when her father Bob Gessner retired earlier this year wasn’t a guarantee. He wanted to make sure it’s what she really wanted—with his protégé gaining her MBA and working somewhere else first to gain outside experience. In the end, she found her way back to MCTV, but it’s clear it won’t be just her dad or grandad’s cable company, with Gessner on a mission to convert all customers to fiber. When it comes to TV, she thinks “The Big Bang Theory” is a great example of the kind of women’s roles she likes to see. “It made STEM cool for everyone. Plus, I think it shows women that you can balance family (and friends) with a career.”
What specifically does your company do to support and elevate the women who work there?
How can the industry do a better job of recruiting women and ensuring they have a path to senior positions? There are already a lot of women in the industry in non-technical roles. And, many of them know and understand the technical side of the industry. We need to do a better job of identifying them and help them make the jump to technical jobs. We also need to get involved with STEM programs to help girls and young women what our industry has to offer.
What advice would you give your 13-year-old self?
Don’t get so caught up in what other people think is “cool.” Try new things and don’t be afraid to fail.
What changes, if any, has your company enacted since the dawning of the #MeToo movement, and what results have ensued?
Which current shows best reflect the kind of women’s roles you like to see and why? The Big Bang Theory. It made STEM cool for everyone. Plus, I think it shows women that you can balance family (and friends) with a career.