Elder’s year, like that of many others, has been a roller coaster. WOW! has continued to thrive, growing its HSD customer base while also introducing new services like the IP-based WOW! tv+ offering. She’s also had a very personal experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, contracting the virus in March and temporarily stepping away from the company to recover. If she were a teenager in Zoom school right now, she’d look inside herself and try to reflect on how she was feeling during this unpredictable time. “I think I would encourage myself to write and reflect on how this unusual moment in history is making me, my family and friends re-evaluate what’s important and what we want to do when life is normal again,” she says. “I’d also encourage myself to get outside and away from screens in order to breathe and relax.”
What is one of your proudest moments during the pandemic? I am proud that WOW! puts customers and employee safety first leading to relatively few cases of COVID-19. We are creatively serving our customers’ dramatically growing demand for reliable broadband.
Some research has suggested COVID-19 may set women in the workplace back half a decade. How can we ensure the progress made isn’t erased? Economic issues brought on by the pandemic are women’s issues as well as impacting families in general. WOW! insures that women can make a living both through the services we offer to our communities and how we care for our employees. Our services are reliable and value-priced, providing women the opportunity to work from home whether it is for a company or running their own businesses. Inside WOW!, we provide flexibility for all of our employees which helps women (and men) who are juggling childcare or care of other relatives. WOW! has had the majority of employees working from home since mid-March, and we’ve let people know that we won’t be back in the offices until mid-next year at the earliest, giving people the ability to manage their lives with some certainty in the face of so many unknowns. We also provide great medical and other benefits, which allows all of our people to stay healthy. In addition, we make sure that women are in key positions at all levels of the business and across all disciplines. We take all forms of diversity seriously at WOW! and work hard to retain our talented people which has led not only to best-in-class employee turnover but being named a Best and Brightest Company to work for many times. I think our secret to this is actively listening to our people and taking action on the feedback we receive.
How has your leadership style changed during the pandemic? I’m not sure it’s changed, but I think we have doubled down on our leadership values: We are communicating (two-way) more than ever, and are scrappy and agile in how we solve problems quickly. We obsess over our customers and make sure we are reliable, easy and continue to surprise them. We focus on facts and data but aren’t afraid to use our intuition. We always consider the impacts of decisions on our customers, our people and our investors. We trust and are accountable to each other and try to get decision-making to the right person or group. I think the pandemic has forced us to be even more focused than ever on what’s really important and to be kind to ourselves and each other as we deal with so much change and stress in the world.
If you were a teenager attending virtual classes right now, what advice would you give yourself? Take a break! I’m sure if I were a teenager attending virtual classes, I would be obsessing about trying to get it all done all the time. I think I would encourage myself to write and reflect on how this unusual moment in history is making me, my family and friends re-evaluate what’s important and what we want to do when life is normal again. I’d also encourage myself to get outside and away from screens in order to breathe and relax.