CHAPTER PRESIDENT’S END OF YEAR MESSAGE


Our last chapter event of 2018 just wrapped up, so before things wind down for the holidays, and before the baton is officially passed to incoming 2019 Chapter President LaShaun Solomon, I wanted to take moment to thank you all for this amazing year.

I have been privileged to work with the Southeast board of directors, a team of 31 dedicated industry professionals who give their time and talents to help fulfill WICT’s mission. Working alongside the board is our army of passionate volunteers. You may have read a blog post one wrote, or been greeted by another when arriving at an event. And there’s the folks who help behind the scenes ordering the catering, booking a speaker, organizing a judging panel and many others who contributed to the success of this year’s 16 in-person or virtual leadership development programs, five membership events, mentoring programs for students and professionals, and a celebration of the 2018 Red Letter honorees.

I am grateful for our generous sponsors and corporate champions. Their financial support keeps our leadership training and mentoring programs free for members, and their executives provide us with inspiring panelists, mentors, and support for participation in WICT by our most valuable asset – nearly 1200 members who are the lifeblood of this organization.

Our chapter has seen its share of the disruption and transition occurring in our industry. For those who have been affected, I urge you to stay connected and involved with WICT. You are not alone. Now more than ever we need our professional network, and WICT Southeast member companies represent many different facets of this ever-evolving industry.

It has been an honor to serve as President of this chapter and it’s been a gift to meet and talk with so many of you as I’ve traveled throughout our region. While I joke that I’m moving into semi-retirement on the board, I hope to see you at an upcoming WICT Southeast event.

With much gratitude and appreciation,

Jamie Miller

2018 WICT Southeast President

WARM MEMORIES FROM 2018

Contributed by Michelle Gilstrap

Before I can truly enjoy the holiday season and think about how my sweater is going to be uglier than everyone else’s, I’ve got finish my self-review. It’s due next week. It should be so easy. Right? Wrong.

After I sit and stare at a blank Word document for a few minutes, I look at my work emails for inspiration. It seems like nothing pops up until an email about renewing my WICT membership presents itself. And then, it hit me! Eureka! I finally know what I’m going to write.

I started thinking about my involvement in organizations like WICT over the past year. Then, I started to think about all of the women who encouraged me to get more involved. At the beginning of the year, I was thrilled when I saw a few of the women from my 2017 WICT mentoring circle. Shelley Hoffmann was a part of my circle and is the current Senior Director of WICT Programming. She enjoyed her involvement with WICT, and it was infectious. I too wanted to help the organization thrive.

While volunteering, I’ve crossed paths with some amazing women and men. They have inspired me to follow their lead and assist WICT whenever I can. They inspired me to read powerful books like Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. I’ve also blogged and helped them plan the 2018 Red Letter Award Ceremony.

We can all celebrate the many accomplishments that we’ve made in our careers and organizations. But thinking about the people who lit that fire and the others that feel it’s warmth, made it celebration more meaningful to me. Sometimes when you are inspired, others will follow.

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Michelle Gilstrap works for CNN Tours at the world headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Her hobbies include traveling, video production, finding fashion trends and hanging out with her friends and family. She has been a member of WICT since 2016 when fellow Turner colleagues like Torrae Lawerence and Eunice Reger (past WICT SE Senior Director of Membership) encouraged her to join.

 

WICT Southeast announces 2019 Board of Directors

Women in Cable Telecommunications Southeast (WICT SE) Chapter announces the members of its 2019 Board of Directors.

The WICT SE Board represents the diverse functions of the cable industry and brings together members from 15 companies located in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Each member has dynamic experience, distinctive perspectives, and backgrounds.

LaShaun Solomon (Comcast) incumbent Vice President rises to President in 2019. Renita Griskel (Discovery, Inc.) incumbent Director of Programming TN (Knoxville) transitions to Vice-President. Jamie Miller (Discovery, Inc.) incumbent President will move to Immediate Past President.

The complete list of all the incoming board members appears below.

The board also recently voted on the 2019 Touchstone, which is: INSPIRE and others will follow.

2019 WICT Southeast Board of Directors
POSITION NAME COMPANY
President LaShaun Solomon Comcast
Vice President Renita Griskel Discovery, Inc
Immediate Past President Jamie Miller Discovery, Inc
Chapter Adviser Sheri McGaughy McGaughy Law
Secretary Angela Manring Cox Communications
Sr. Treasurer Tendai Mashingaidze Aspire TV
Treasurer Stephanie Brown Comcast
Sr. Director of Marketing & Communications Valerie Carrillo Discovery, Inc
Director of Communications Elizabeth Rasberry Cox Communications
Director of Design Daphne Ternoir Discovery, Inc
Director of Social Media Marketing Kathy Oakes Cox Communications
Director of Digital Technology Valerie Ragsdale Cox Communications
Sr. Director of Membership Amanda Cisko Cox Communications
Director of Membership GA & AL Devon Croom Cox Communications
Director of Membership TN Sarah Miller Comcast
Director of Outreach Shakira Isom Comcast
Sr. Director of Programming Katie Duncan Discovery, Inc
Director of Programming AL Melissa Ralph Spectrum Reach
Director of Programming GA Dana Dawson Cox Enterprises
Director of Programming GA Jay Brown Arris
Director of Programming TN Leah Gould Discovery, Inc
Director of Programming TN Katie Farritor RFD-TV
Sr. Director of Mentoring Shelley Hoffmann Healthgrades
Director of Mentoring GA & AL Corrie Michals Comcast
Director of Mentoring TN Erika Weaver Discovery, Inc
Sr. Director of Partnerships Janine Bowling Arris
Director of Partnerships Marsha Maldonado Turner
Sr. Director of Red Letter Awards Ellen English Wargo French
Director of Red Letter Awards Gimette DeLaughter Cox Communications
Director at Large – Bylaws Jennifer Thompson Patrick Law Group
Director at Large – Partnership Janine Johnson Comcast
Director at Large – Executive Outreach Kathy Hatala Speakeasy, Inc
Director at Large – Chapter Expansion Kimberley Euston PwC

My #TimesUp Moment

Written by WICT blog volunteer, Kenya Brock

“If we don’t center the voices of marginalized people, we’re doing the wrong work.”
Tarana Burke
Founder of Just Be, Inc., civil rights activist, and originator of ‘MeToo’

When I was asked to write about a blog post leading up to the Moving from #MeToo to #TimesUp: Be a Catalyst for Positive Change WICT Southeast event, I literally had no clue what to write. I don’t have a #MeToo moment, but sadly I know many who do. But after reading the description, I realized the event is about both #MeToo and #TimesUp and that changed my mind about what to write.

When I was in high school, I had a summer job where I worked at a sporting goods store. I remember the boss telling me and another woman that we couldn’t work in the shoe section because women are better at selling clothes rather than athletic shoes. I was only 15 at the time and I remember being extremely annoyed, but I never said anything. I didn’t feel like I could speak up to my older, male boss for fear of being reprimanded or fired. So unfortunately, I kept my mouth shut and finished my summer job…never to return there or buy shoes from that store again.

Was that my #TimesUp moment?

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have had all types of people doing a deep dive into their past. There’s a lot of digging up memories (some perhaps repressed and/or painful) and reflecting on situations inside and outside of the workplace. Was I harassed, abused or discriminated against? Was I a harasser, abuser, or a discriminator? This self-reflection isn’t easy, and it shouldn’t be. But it is absolutely necessary.

The stories from the victims that have come out of both movements are harrowing, frustrating, and scary. The fact that they’re able to tell their stories is downright courageous. The realization that shame, as well as fear from people in positions of power, is what kept these victims from speaking up makes my blood boil, but I can relate, because I’ve been there on more than one occasion.

As a woman and as a person of color, I am unfortunately used to being discriminated against. I have been spoken over in meetings, left out of important conversations, and blatantly ignored while being in the room. But through various ways, be it a mentor, effective leadership training, support from key people, etc., I’ve learned my voice counts and I matter. At the same time, I try to be a voice, sounding board, whatever is necessary, for those who’ve been through what I have been through. Having those conversations and recognizing you’re not alone is very important in the process of change and healing.

But here’s the thing, everyone’s situation and experience is different. Not everyone has someone they can easily talk to and get guidance from. My 15-year-old self kept that anger and fear inside but my older self may have reported my boss to HR had I properly known and understood the resources available. I’m glad to see all of the wonderful information on the #MeToo and #TimesUp websites as they are an excellent way for people experiencing various types of abuse and discrimination (within and outside of the workplace), to find support and resources. The key is to live in a world where these resources aren’t necessary, but until then they will exist.
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Want to learn more about what’s next for the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement in our industry? Join industry leaders in areas including HR diversity and inclusion, production executives, and more in a discussion about what better looks like at the Moving from #MeToo to #TimesUp: Be a Catalyst for Positive Change event. Click here to register and learn more.

2018 Red Letter Awards: A Note from the WICT National President

Congratulations

Members of the WICT Southeast Chapter, 2018 Red Letter Award Recipients & Honored Guests:

As the Red Letter Awards celebrates its fifteenth year, I’d like to congratulate the Southeast Chapter of WICT for bringing diversity and inclusion front and center by honoring the accomplishments of several of the industry’s most extraordinary leaders. The Red Letter Awards are a key event for the WICT community and industry at large. You should be proud of the work you are doing to highlight the tremendous impact the honorees have made to challenge the status quo and promote progress.

To this year’s honorees, this is your moment to shine. You are the reason why WICT works so hard to make the industry more inclusive for all. Your dedication and passion are infectious and serve as a catalyst for others coming up the ranks. Thank you for carrying the torch and blazing a trail for future Red Letter honorees. Enjoy every minute of your time in the spotlight.

Cheers,

Maria E. Brennan, CAE
President & CEO
Women in Cable Telecommunications

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The 2018 Red Letter Awards Gala will be held Thursday, November 8, 2018, at the Four Seasons in Atlanta and will be hosted by Jovita Moore, Emmy-winning news anchor, community volunteer, and proud mom. Go HERE for more information.

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.

LEADERSHIP PROFILE – Terri Gunnell

Sponsored by:

Terri Gunnell

Senior Vice President of Audience Monetization Solutions

Turner

 

Tell me 3 personal things that people might find surprising.

  1. The first one is that I run a technology division at Turner. I was an English and Communications major in college, and I wanted to be a writer or a journalist.
  2. Unsurprisingly, I’m a media-holic. I consume media on a regular basis and am always looking for a new show to watch… but my main guilty pleasure is watching The Real Housewives of, basically all of the cities.
  3. The third thing is I love to cook and bake, and I’m obsessed with Pinterest from that perspective. I’m always looking for new recipes to try and I always take a picture of the successful ones to see how close I can get them to the ones posted on Pinterest. I’m competitive that way!

Briefly, tell us about your path to your current position at Turner.

I went to Florida State where Ted Turner gave the commencement address at my college graduation. He inspired me, so I quit the job that I had secured for myself post-graduation and drove to Atlanta determined to get a job at Turner. I landed a job as a temp in Turner Sports as a production assistant where I did all sorts of fun things like shooting T-shirts out of guns at Atlanta Hawks games, helping cameramen with their equipment, getting coffee for people and typing up memos. I eventually landed a full-time job in Sales Operations scheduling commercials on the log for TBS and TNT. I loved it and the people I got to work with every day. A few years later, in a supervisory role, I started working closely with the New York Ad Sales planning and pricing team. A New York-based manager job on that team became available, so I interviewed and got the job. This position taught me the Ad Sales side of the business and I fell in love with New York City! When the technology division based in Atlanta began building some tools for us, I started working with them as a business partner. This first generation of business analysis led me to pitch the need for a technical Product Management team. Ad Sales created a Director role for me, and I built the first Product Management, Reporting and Analytics group. That’s how I got into technology. A few years later, my role and my team transitioned to the Global Technology Organization and I moved into a more senior role as a VP, overseeing the product owners for Ad Sales Research and Sales Operations in both New York and Atlanta. About three years ago, my role expanded significantly, and I assumed a wildly talented group of technologists that also provide solutions for Programming and Promotions and was promoted to SVP. It’s been an exciting, winding road so far!

Now, I am a full-on STEM girl! I think there’s just such opportunity for women in this in this field. There aren’t enough of us so, I hope I can help convert other people that didn’t have a science, math or technology background to think they can do it too.

WICT Southeast and Turner are hosting a Women in Technology event on Oct 31st, What advice would you give to someone with a television background who is considering breaking into a career in technology?

I would recommend that you connect with somebody in the technology division of your company. Find out what they do. How do they spend their day? How do they help the business? I think that will help you set the stage for understanding. There’s more to technology than meets the eye, right? All of us aren’t sitting at our computers writing code. There are so many cool jobs in tech. Take a training class, something that sounds interesting, and see how it might apply to your job. Look at the systems and applications you use at work. Find out a little bit about the vendor company that provides that application and see if there’s anyone you can meet via LinkedIn and connects to them. The more people understand the different types of jobs that are available in technology, the more it might just pique their interest.

With technology, things change very quickly. How do you personally deal with change and how do you help your team navigate it?

In my position, I hear about all the distractions and the change headed our way every day, but I think my job, and my leadership team’s job, is to focus people on specific, achievable missions. These missions are tied to an overall goal, but we try not to plan to concretely beyond six months. As a result, our development teams are amazingly resilient and can adjust their priorities weekly or monthly. We try to filter through all the noise and keep people focused on something that we know is achievable: Here’s what you’re doing, here’s why you’re doing it and here’s what’s going to be awesome about it.

Why do you think It’s important for women to get more involved in today’s technology industry?

One obvious reason is that the data says companies are more profitable when they hire more women and when leadership is balanced out across the gender lines. Selfishly speaking, having more women around the table also makes it easier as a woman to get a word in edgewise. The reality is that having more women building products and applications, developing media content and providing programming direction makes a company strong and successful. I remember reading an Arianna Huffington article just recently saying that women globally spent about forty trillion U. S. dollars last year. That’s a ton of buying power to connect with from a technology perspective, so I think it’s a no-brainer.

Do you have any tech organizations, books or training that you would recommend to our readers?

General Assembly in Atlanta is an amazing institution where adults can become students again and learn new skills to get ahead in a changing workplace. It is a great spot to meet other people who want to do the same thing. So many people on my team and on teams across the technology organization at Turner have gone there to learn new skills. It’s an amazing resource.

WIT, Women in Technology is an organization whose mission is to empower women and girls in STEM.

I have also just finished reading a book called Geek Girl Rising: Inside the Sisterhood Shaking Up Tech, by Heather Cabot and Samantha Walravens. It’s such an inspiring read, hilarious, true and informative.

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?

I love the idea of “Be a Catalyst” because it’s something that anybody at any level of any organization can be a part of. Being a catalyst isn’t just a leadership thing. You can be a successful catalyst no matter what type of job or role you have. What do you truly excel at? Bring that to every meeting and every project or mission, to every opportunity that comes your way and make it better. It will force people to think differently. I think this is such a such an inspirational little phrase too – Be a Catalyst! Catalysts are everyday people hiding out in everyday positions in your company and they are changing things, shaking things up and making things better wherever they are because they bring something that you don’t already have to the table.

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Don’t miss Women in Tech: Navigating Untraditional Paths on October 30th from 6-8pm, an exclusive, unique experience presented by WICT Southeast and Turner. Connect with representatives from Digital Craft, General Assembly, Girls Who Code and Women in Tech. Then, join an intimate and interactive discussion featuring leading technology industry executives who will be sharing stories of their untraditional paths to success.

Memories from Atlanta’s Speed Mentoring

We had a great turnout and productive mentoring sessions at Speed Mentoring Atlanta earlier this summer. Take a look at the photos here. Thanks to everyone who attended and special thanks to our outstanding mentors for their guidance and support of the WICT Southeast mission.

Aug 8, 2018 10:40 AM
LIVE UPDATES: WICT SE Tech It Out

Were you unable to join all the fun at WICT SE’s Tech It Out event, sponsored by Comcast? No worries, our blog contributors, Elva Acosta, Jay Brown, Michelle Gilstrap, and Sylvia Carrillo shared live updates from the affair.

From Jay (4:55pm)

Speaker and Panelist, Jay Sexton from Georgia Tech is ready to kick off tonight’s event

From Jay (5:03pm)

Panelist, Forrest Pace from AIG, is ready to kick off tonight’s event

From Jay (5:08pm)

Panelist, Kelly Arehart from Kimberly-Clark is in Atlanta and ready for tonight’s event.

From Jay (5:25pm)

Dr. Karen I Matthews, the keynote speaker from Corning, and Dr. Paul M.A. Baker from Georgia Tech are ready for tonight’s event.

From Elva (6:16pm)

Shelley Hoffman kicks off the WICT Southeast’s Tech It Out Event!

From Elva (6:20pm)

Burunda Prince-Jones from The Farm kicks off our event! She’s awesome!

From Jay (6:25pm)

One of my favorite quotes from Buruanda Price-Jones of The Farm, “Better and richer experience when people are like ourselves..this company is diverse in ethnicity, gender, culture”

From Elva (6:27pm)

Dr. Karen Matthews, Technology and Market Development Manager, Science and Technology for Corning Incorporated, kicks off her presentation on the Internet of Things (IoT)

From Michelle (6:40pm)

This IOT information, that Dr. Karen Mattew is discussing, is amazing. I am so excited for the future. Our tablets will be able to control a lot more than lights. Corning believes that their high tech glass will shift how we use technology in the future. The gorilla glass she explained is what everyone needs for their phones.

From Michelle (6:59pm)

Dr. Karen Matthews is also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She firmly believes that the Internet of Things will be bought if we can find value in it. She explained that your phone can talk to a number of items and so can some houses. What if the two talked to each other. 😱

From Elva (7:11pm)

Comments from Dr. Matthews: How can we make it easier for the end user? Our proposal about the value of IoT is about being citizen-centric and putting the end user first.

From Michelle (7:19pm)

Next up, we have Panelist Dr. Paul M. A. Baker, Senior Director of Research and Strategic Innovation Center for Advanced Communications Policy at Georgia Tech. He’s sharing with the group more about CDAIT, a Georgia Tech Initiative. He’s explained how he’s an advocate for people with disabilities and passion for technology can be combined.

From Michelle (7:29pm)

Forest Pace, from AIG, is up next in the panelist group. He’s speaking about how security needs to be a top priority and we need to asses the difference between monitoring and controlling.

From Sylvia Carillo (7:38pm)

Jay Sexton is our next Speaker for New IoT based business models. He’s explained that there are four important variables to look at – Ethics, Profit, Intimacy, and Connectivity.

From Michelle (7:40pm)

Jay is speaking about EPIC. Why is this EPIC? I’m glad you asked! According to Jay, “THE EPIC analytiv approach is introduced to help municipalities review the opportunity and impact of investing in IoT.”

Up next, Panelist Kelly Arehart from Kimberly-Clark and their IoT product.

From Elva and Slyvia (7:50pm)

Interested in learning more about the panel and their collective paper on IoT? Here’s a link to their work

Their paper is a 100+ page paper and panelist Forest Pace said it’s a great late night read!

From Michelle (7:55pm)

One of my favorite quotes from the evening came from Dr. Matthews, “Do we have all the answers? No. That’s why it’s so important to learn and talk about IoT now.”

From Michelle (8:05pm)

After being asked about how IoT helps the blind, Dr. Paul M. A. Baker is talking about how vibrations and consistency make devices like the iPhone attractive to the blind. Forest Pace said Shepherd Center is also working on it too. The panelist went on to explain that eye strain is also an important problem that tech companies like Microsoft are addressing.

 

Stacey Rivers, Director of Technology Skills Analysis + Development at Turner

SRiversName: Stacey Rivers

Where are you currently located? Atlanta, GA

Where do you currently work and what’s your current role? 

Director of Technology Skills Analysis + Development at Turner

Describe your role at Turner. 

I am in the Global Technology & Operations Division at Turner; I lead strategic programs for skills development, and for building our tech talent pipeline. The purpose of these programs is to ensure alignment of technical skills with Turner’s tech roadmap. I have implemented strategic initiatives for employee development, and our technology internship program, as well as continue to grow our partnerships with colleges, universities, and professional organizations to build our talent pipeline.

Have you always been interested in the technology space?

I call myself “an accidental technologist” because when I joined Turner as a broadcast operations coordinator for Cartoon Network years ago, I didn’t know I would’ve enjoyed working with technology as much as I did. My original interest was journalism, and I saw my first job at Turner as a stepping-stone to becoming a journalist. Ironically, I got hooked on tech and have since had about six different roles in the technology division. Because of this experience, I always tell students to have a career plan but be open to different experiences because you never know what you will discover about yourself, hence, my personal acronym for BRAVE (Being Ready to Accept Various Experiences).

The technology landscape is constantly growing and changing. What impact does that have on what you do in your current role?

In my current role, it’s crucial for me to not only understand the existing skills in demand, but also what is trending, and what is on the horizon. While we know AI (artificial intelligence) will be a significant disruptor of jobs, what is not known is how profound the impact will be, how roles will change, and what skills employees will have to develop as this emerging tech is integrated into various parts of an organization. Block Chain is also said to be the next disruptor, but the impacts are also still unknown. In my role, I have to be prepared to expand current programs or create new programs to attract and develop these emerging tech skills based on the business strategy.

What does the future of STEAM for women look like and where do you see your role in it?

I think STEAM is gaining popularity and is being adopted broadly, both academically and professionally. What is exciting about STEAM is it provides an outlet for technologists to pursue creativity as part of learning, fostering innovation. I can’t definitively say what the future of STEAM for women may entail, but I think it brings another element that will give companies a competitive advantage for people who harness both tech and creativity skills.

What advice would you give women looking to pivot into technical areas within the cable/telecommunications industry?

Now is a great time to transition into a technical role because there are skills gaps across various domains, and a great need to increase the number of women in technology jobs. My advice is; first, you have to be realistic and want to make the change because you are passionate about whatever role you choose, or else it will be just another job. Second, make sure you understand the barriers to entry, meaning, the expertise, experience, and even certifications required for specific roles. Third, create a plan to get the training you need, and be prepared to invest in yourself even if your company does not sponsor you. Finally, join professional organizations like WICT, meetup groups, or other communities where you can get the support you need to stay the course.

WICT Southeast’s mission is about creating leaders. What does it mean to be a good leader?

As a leader, it is important to be self-aware then seek to be your best self, while you bring others along. Leaders are not selfish, but intentionally selfless, meaning, you have to have a healthy balance of creating value for the organization while developing people, and continuing your own professional development. I think great leaders do the following exceptionally well:

  • Actively listen
  • Engage people in meaningful dialogue
  • Use their expertise to advise others
  • Develop their people and themselves
  • Encourage others to pursue their passions/career goals
  • Give and get respect as a result of who they are as a person (not because of their title)
  • Resolve issues so people can work, and
  • Seek to provide a service to others because of the inherent power they have been given

This year’s WICT theme is “Be a Catalyst”. Why is this important to you and the industry you work in?

There are so many women who had gone before us in unchartered territory and made personal sacrifices, which have now become perks to attract and retain women. These women were catalysts, a positive force that could not be ignored, and as a result, brought about change that benefits everyone. This is important to me because I think every generation has a responsibility to make conditions better for the generation to come. At Turner, our diversity and inclusion strategies are giving people a voice who didn’t have one before; and not only is it good for employees, it’s also good for business, to create the kind of content and services our fans know and love. It’s nice to be the recipient of these benefits, but we can’t sit back on our laurels. In the spirit of continuous improvement, everyone can contribute to making a better work environment, no matter how big or small. When employees speak up, they give leaders the opportunity to make positive changes. At the end of the day, it’s about what you do to help yourself and others while you have the chance.

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Kenya Brock is a WICT volunteer and the Director of Marketing for Brown Sugar, the popular new subscription video-on-demand service from Bounce TV featuring the biggest collection of iconic African-American movies available. She is a marketing, partnership, media and e-commerce professional with over 15 years of experience in developing and executing multi-platform marketing campaigns and B2B/B2C partnerships for national and local brands.

LEADERSHIP PROFILE – Melissa Ingram, General Manager at AspireTV

Interviewed by WICT Volunteer, Kenya Brock

MIngramName

Melissa Ingram

Where are you currently located?

Atlanta, GA

Where do you currently work and what’s your current role?

General Manager at AspireTV

Describe your role at AspireTV?

I like to explain my role as General Manager in context to one of our core values at aspireTV – servant leadership – my role truly is to serve an amazing group of people primarily made of very dynamic and passionate women. To cast a vision for the future of aspireTV so that they are engaged and empowered on a day to day basis to make strategic and sound decisions for the business; to develop them into the best version of themselves and collectively; continuously revive the vision; demonstrate their worth and value and carry-out the values of aspireTV in my own walk so that we collectively can execute on not just a brand mission, but also on a mission to change the face of television by allowing an audience of color to see themselves through celebrating, sharing and reflecting Black culture and urban lifestyle.

You started your career practicing employment and entertainment law at local firms, then became an attorney at UPtv. Now, you lead a team managing business operations for a cable television network. Tell me about that transition?

It’s funny because I always said that I wanted to be an entertainment attorney; yet, I never imagined myself as a GM of a cable network. God clearly had bigger plans for me than I had for myself. LOL. Yet, when I look back over my trajectory, I clearly see pivots in my journey that prepared me for this position. First, starting my legal career at one of the nation’s top firms, Alston + Bird, provided a solid foundation and training in critical thinking and writing. Serving as Counsel for UPtv, I gained incredible insight into the business serving other business units as well as working closely with the CEO and Vice Chairman on strategic partnerships and negotiations. As Counsel for aspireTV, I reported into a GM that was not only invested in my development as a mentor but also gave me a seat at the table and in the Boardroom (from prep to presentation) providing me access and intense training that all prepared me to step into the position of GM.

What advice would you give our readers who are thinking of a career change?

I don’t want to oversimplify it, but my advice is quite simple — It’s never ever too late to make a career change and to think otherwise is nonsense. If you have a vision for your life, God will always provide provision. Move in the direction of the change you seek realizing that it won’t be easy. Stay committed to the vision for your life and know that while a career change may not come easy, it will be worth it.

What does leadership mean to you?

My definition of leadership is taken from Ken Blanchard + Mark Miller’s The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do. Great leaders SERVE and the acronym SERVE is really the guiding light for me as it relates to my leadership style. Great leaders See the future; Engages and develops others; Reinvents continuously, Values results and relationships and Embodies the values of the company.

What has been your greatest achievement and biggest challenge as a leader?

aspireTV has been a purpose-driven company since day 1 and there is no doubt that the aspireTV team members joined the company because they felt connected to the purpose and mission of the network. My greatest achievement by far has been to cast a vision for a re-brand of the network that allows the team members to engage with, relate to and get excited about what aspire has to offer as they can now “see themselves” in the programming. When connecting with aspireTV’s niche audience, having a team of passionate and excited employees makes a difference and it comes through in everything the team touches. I forget who said it but this quote resonates with me “uninspired people rarely do inspiring work” and I’m humbled to know that not only is the aspire team inspired by the vision but they, in turn, are inspiring so many people through their work.

My biggest challenge as a leader is myself and when I say “myself”, I mean the self-doubt in my ability to effectively lead. In a time when the external disruptors are vast and the internal realities are limiting, I often question whether I’m the right person in the seat; am I equipped enough; do I have enough experience as a leader under the age of 40 to lead? So I combat my doubt with a lot of daily meditation/prayer, affirmation, and resources dedicated to helping me achieve a healthy mindset to lead yet with a self-awareness to never stop learning, growing and developing into a stronger leader and the best version of myself.

This year’s WICT theme is “Be a Catalyst”. Do you feel like you’ve had the opportunity to be a catalyst in your career? If so, tell us about it.

When I think about the word “catalyst”, I think about something that triggers a change or an event, and as difficult as it is to recognize myself as catalyst – remember the self-doubt issue I talked about – 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 and 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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Kenya Brock is a WICT volunteer and the Director of Marketing for Brown Sugar, the popular new subscription video-on-demand service from Bounce TV featuring the biggest collection of iconic African-American movies available. She is a marketing, partnership, media and e-commerce professional with over 15 years of experience in developing and executing multi-platform marketing campaigns and B2B/B2C partnerships for national and local brands.