4 Questions for the 2018 Red Letter Award Recipients

Congratulations to Lisa Farmer, JoAnn Gonzalez, Alaka Williams, Melissa Ingram, and Molly Battin, WICT Southeast’s 2018 Red Letter Award Recipients

We recognize these women for their outstanding achievement and leadership and believe they personify the WICT Touchstones of Leadership and actively enhance the perception of the cable telecommunications industry through their community and professional involvement.

Leading up to our Red Letter Awards, we have asked these 5 women 4 questions so you can get to know them better. Join us all week as we post their answers. Still need to get tickets for the 2018 Red Letter Awards? Go HERE for more information.

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Molly Battin

Inspiration Award, Woman of the Year

Executive VP & Global Chief Communications and Corporate Marketing Officer for Turner

How does it feel to win the WICT Red Letter’s Inspiration Award, Woman of the Year?

MB: It’s always an honor to be recognized by your peers and fellow colleagues. WICT is such an amazing organization and does so much good for women in our industry, I am proud to be part of it and honored to be recognized in this way.

What do you feel has been the proudest moment in your career?

MB: I have been so fortunate to have had a lot of amazing moments in my career—hard to point to just one. From working on the CNN brand to rebranding TBS, to running the entertainment digital businesses, to launching Upwave, to leading the Turner Media Group, to launching our first global campaign. I am proud of all the teams I have been able to work with along the way—the work they do and the passion they bring every day to Turner makes me proud to work here.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

MB: In business school, I remember my professor saying that the most important decision you will make as a leader, is in who you hire. As I have built teams across Turner, I have adopted that philosophy.

Your employees are your best capital and biggest asset and I am grateful to work with so many talented individuals. Surround yourself with great people and great things will happen. You don’t have to be the expert in everything—build a great team, support them, empower them, and listen to them.

This year’s theme for WICT is “Be a Catalyst.” In what way does this resonate with you and why do you think it’s important to push the envelope?

MB: This year’s theme couldn’t be more timely. Over the last year, we have seen #MeToo shift from being a rallying cry to an action plan to create workplaces where all women are respected and can reach their full potential. The momentum for change and the national dialogue that we are having would not have been possible without women stepping up to be catalysts for change.

I’m honored to be considered a catalyst and I hope to continue to empower other women. To all navigating their careers in this moment of change and disruption, don’t be afraid to take a risk. As women, we tend to wait until we have every answer—but we need to try new things and get out of our comfort zone. The only way we are going to continue to grow and learn is to push ourselves and be a little uncomfortable. If you aren’t a little bit uncomfortable—then you are playing it too safe.

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Melissa Ingram

Horizon Award for Woman to Watch

General Manager for aspireTV

How does it feel to win the WICT Red Letter’s Horizon Award for Woman to Watch?

MI: Humbling. I’m still asking myself, “why are they watching me?!” LOL.

What advice do you have for women to grow their leadership skills?

MI: My advice for women to grow their leadership skills is to join a professional organization that is committed to the development of women leaders in your respective field. For me, in 2011 that organization was WICT and since then, WICT has afforded me incredible training through seminars, events and programs (specifically, its Rising Leaders Program). As with any organization, what you gain is directly correlated to what you put in – so I encourage women not only to join but to get involved with organizations like WICT that are committed and invested in the development of women as leaders.

What do you feel are some keys to being successful in this everchanging media landscape?

MI: Three keys to success in this ever-changing landscape:

One. As a programmer, stop trying to please everyone and find the niche audience that’s being underserved and serve them like no one else. It’s less about quantity/size and more about the quality and influence you have over the audience you serve.

Two. As a programmer, be authentic, original and relatable through your content.

Three. As a leader, lead differently. I’m uncertain who to attribute this quote to but it reigns true that “uninspired people rarely do inspiring work.”. In spite of all the challenges, the landscape may bring, lead to inspire your teams by seeing and shaping the future in the midst of change.

This year’s theme for WICT is “Be a Catalyst.” In what way does this resonate with you and why do you think it’s important to push the envelope?

MI: When I think about the word “catalyst”, I think about something that triggers a change or an event, and I often ponder the impact of me being a young woman of color as GM of a national cable television network. At aspireTV we talk about the power of representation; the importance of seeing people that look like you as inspiration; and our ability to change the way in which we see ourselves with authentic narratives. It is my hope that my role at aspireTV serves as a catalyst – a spark for change – to see more people of color, particularly women of color in the same role in years to come; to inspire the next generation of women to change the make-up of this industry; to empower us all to change the way in which we see ourselves and most importantly, each other.

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Alaka Williams

Mentor Award

Senior Vice President of Network Human Resources for Discovery, Inc.

How does it feel to win the WICT Red Letter’s Mentor Award?

AW: It is truly an honor to receive this award and to be recognized by the distinguished WICT organization, specifically the Southeast Chapter for doing what matters to me most. The theme of being a Catalyst speaks to me in so many ways both personally, professionally, industry wise as well as, in all workplaces, and spaces across America. I am beyond grateful.

Why is it so important for you to be a champion for women’s issues in the workplace and to develop mentoring initiatives within your organization?

AW: I firmly believe that if we as women do not champion issues that affect us all, then who will. I know that I have a responsibility to attempt to be the voice of the voiceless, and live by example and be the change that I expect to see. There is no progress without action and no action without passion. My passion both professional and personal is to do my best to bring about positive change and forward growth in the organizations in which I serve, and the communities in which I dwell specifically as it relates to diversity and inclusion.

What is the most important characteristic every leader should possess?

AW: I believe the most important characteristic that every leader should possess is Commitment to Passion. You have to enjoy what you do, and who you do it with, as that ultimately effects HOW you do it. I believe every leader should be committed to the work they do, and be passionate about it. Teams follow Leaders who believe in them, who are also committed to the purpose, direction and outcomes. Passion should live in everything we do, it’s the one thing that is critically evident when it is absent.

This year’s theme for WICT is “Be a Catalyst.” In what way does this resonate with you and why do you think it’s important to push the envelope?

AW: Being a Catalyst resonates with me simply because I know no other way of living, or being. I have always come from a perspective of raising the bar. My approach begins from the space of living and learning; it’s not about wins and losses necessarily it is more about getting and being better in spite of your circumstances. Pushing the envelope unleashes new opportunity, greater power, and increased knowledge. If you don’t push the envelope, you might always remain in a place of what could be—–instead of what you could possibly make happen.

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Joann Gonzalez

Mentor Award

Vice President of Human Resources – Customer Care Operations for Comcast

How does it feel to win the WICT Red Letter’s Mentor Award?

JG: Wow! I am so excited to be honored by WICT with this year’s Red Letter Mentor Award! Mentoring and serving others is something that I am passionate about and believe it is an absolute responsibility for all of us. Being recognized for simply carrying out that responsibility is a complete blessing and is very humbling to me.

What are the best and worst pieces of advice you’ve received?

JG: The best advice I have ever received is to be your true and authentic self. None of us have all the answers. We all have blind spots and things that we just simply are not good at. It is okay to admit that out loud and to ask for help. People appreciate authenticity.

I think the worst advice that I have ever received was to constantly be on the lookout for the next golden career opportunity and the financial gain that comes with it. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that loving what you do and aligning your values to the company you work for is far more important. In fact, it is priceless.

How would you describe your leadership style?

JG: My leadership style is collaborative and supportive, but I definitely believe in driving for results and solving problems with a sense of urgency. One of my core leadership beliefs is that relationship building and collaboration at all levels of the organization are a cornerstone to success. Regardless of the positions we hold, it takes a village and all of us working toward a common goal to make things happen while teaching each other along the way. I also believe that humility is a leadership quality that is underrated in today’s workplace and a trait that I seek to demonstrate routinely.

I believe in setting a high bar and challenging the status quo to make improvements and seek solutions. In my view, there is never a problem that cannot be solved. At first, it may not be a perfect solution, but through continuous learning and refinement, one will eventually be reached.

Last, but not least, resilience is key. At times, things don’t always go as planned, but the ability to change course, bounce back and move forward is paramount.

This year’s theme for WICT is “Be a Catalyst.” In what way does this resonate with you and why do you think it’s important to push the envelope?

JG: “Be a Catalyst” is all about taking action and making change happen. As we look around the world today, our nation, our communities and even within our own organizations, it’s easy to see the opposition, the division and even the destruction that exists. The reality is that it will not change until we individually start to do something about it. Each of us has a responsibility to reach out to one another, build connections, learn from one another, encourage each other and work together to make a difference. That’s what being a catalyst is all about – making a difference – and it starts with each of us, individually.

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Lisa Farmer

Rising Star Award for Emerging leader

Product Director for Cox Communications, Inc.

How does it feel to win the WICT Southeast Red Letter’s Rising Star Award for Emerging Leader?

LF: It’s an amazing feeling of gratitude to be nominated and to win this award! Being recognized for the Rising Star award inspires me to continue, with more precision, my mission of advocating for women leaders in the cable and telecommunications industries. My six-word leadership statement is “The Mission IS to Bring Others!”

What does it mean to you to be an influential leader?

LF: An influential leader is an individual that actively considers the viewpoint of others and provides space (opportunity) for discussion and or promotion of various viewpoint. An influential leader is curious and encourages others to be open to new possibilities.

What advice would you give to your 20-year old self?

LF: I would encourage my 20-year old self to build and nurture professional relationships earlier in my career. Strategic networking can create a circle of advocates and supporters that can help to navigate your career and relationships with others. Additionally, career navigation can be vertical as well as perpendicular and perpendicular movement may offer a better trajectory to your destiny.

This year’s theme for WICT is “Be a Catalyst.” In what way does this resonate with you and why do you think it’s important to push the envelope?

LF: The theme “Be a Catalyst” resonates with me because I stand on the shoulders of generations of women who lived with limited opportunity to drive towards change and therefore I lead with “why not?” and I share that same ideology with young women. It’s important to push beyond the boundaries of comfort because that’s where growth and innovation occur that can be beneficial to those around you.