What’s It Like to Be on the WICT SE Board

 Are you looking to take your career to the next level? Do you want to network and collaborate with the best and brightest in the cable and telecommunications industry? Are you an active member of WICT Southeast? Well then perhaps joining the WICT SE board is what you’re looking for. The CALL FOR CANDIDATES for the WICT Southeast 2021 Board is officially open and we need some great candidates to run for the open positions. 

For those of you who are thinking about running and want to know what it takes to run and serve, we’ve asked 3 current board members, LaShaun Solomon (Immediate Past President), Renita Griskel (President), and Shelley Hoffmann (Vice President) some key questions that may help guide your decision making.

What made you decide to make a run for a position on the WICT board?

Lashaun Solomon (LS): My WICT Board experience began in 2012 when I joined the Greater Texas Chapter Board as Sponsorship Chair.  In 2014, I experienced a career change and was seeking to reconnect and build my network in Atlanta. Given my previous years of WICT Board experience, I found it more than applicable to pursue an opportunity on the WICT Southeast Board.

Renita Griskel (RG): I’ve always enjoyed attending WICT events and helping out behind the scenes. At the time when I submitted my nomination, it was after talking with friends who were on the board. Those conversations nudged me out of my comfort zone and into a board position.

Shelley Hoffmann (SH): I had recently moved to Atlanta after having been active in the New York chapter, as well as having participated in the Rising Leaders and Executive Development programs offered by WICT HQ. My motivation was twofold: I was looking to network within my new community and I wanted to give back to WICT since it had been such an integral part of my personal and professional development. I immediately transferred my membership to the Southeast chapter and started to volunteer at events. This eventually lead to my interest in a board position. I wanted to do more. I’ve always grounded myself in the goal of how I can be of service. I wanted to make an impact. And I knew this was one way to do both.

How did you prepare for the campaign?

LS: I sought out to volunteer at local WICT events and get to know the existing Board members.  The connections I made were instrumental in my joining of the WICT Southeast Board in 2015 as the Senior Director of Partnerships.  I served in this role for two years and was elected Vice President in 2018, which led to me serving as President for 2019.

RG: I did some research about the position and then determined what I would do in that role to add to the success of the chapter if I were to be elected.  

SH: The way I found myself on the board was a bit untraditional. I volunteered as much as I could. I networked with members and current board members as much as I could. I attended every Atlanta event. Eventually, I decided to run for Director of Programming – Georgia. And I lost. I was disappointed. But I was undeterred. About halfway through the year, I reached out to Anne Loescher, the then-President of WICT Southeast, and asked her if she needed any additional help. And she said, “You know what? One of the programming positions just opened up.”  So I submitted a personal statement to the board explaining my commitment to the chapter and was voted in. 

After you were elected, what was your commitment (meetings, conference calls, events, etc.) on top of your day job?

LS: WICT Southeast is a working Board of dedicated professionals.  Each role is critical to our success as a multi-state chapter. My commitments have consisted of several weekly committee calls, monthly Board meetings and attending WICT SE events across GA, TN, and AL.

RG: The commitment ebbs and flows. There are times when I’m on call’s multiple times a day and multiple days a week. There are also times when I may not have a WICT call during the week. There are always emails or slack messages daily, but there is also help available when needed for an event or program. The board is very supportive and understanding that there is work, WICT, and life balance.

SH: It really depends on the role. Some positions are intense for a short period of time like Mentoring, Partnerships, Red Letter Awards. Others are consistent throughout the year like Programming, Marketing and Membership. We are a working board. We are deft at balancing responsibilities in our careers and at home. While there are some days that feel primarily WICT-focused more than others, as professionals, we all know how to incorporate our WICT work into our day to day. Is it hard work? Yes. There are many calls and emails depending on the week or month. It takes dedicated individuals for the board to hum and sing. But the reward is so much greater than the effort. 

What impact has the WICT Southeast board had on your career?

LS: Serving on the WICT Board has been one of the most rewarding opportunities for me!  My involvement in WICT has inspired me to pursue new challenges and has provided me the opportunity to develop and grow my leadership skills, formulate a robust and diverse network, and expand my scope of the complex industry we work in. 

RG: I have had an opportunity to connect one on one with executives at my own company and other companies which has been helpful from a networking standpoint.

SH: Experience on the board gives you the opportunity to get outside of your comfort zone and expand your professional tool box beyond your daily responsibilities. Because of my board experience, I am a better people manager. I’ve gained skills in marketing and negotiating and have opportunities to practice my public speaking as well as my active listening – as I do my best to be responsive to our membership. I’m positively impacted and mentored by my fellow board members across Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama and because of that, I learn something new every day. It’s invaluable to my career.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to run for the board?

LS: Simply put, just go for it!  If elected, serving on the Board is an opportunity for you to learn a new skill in a safe and supportive space or master a current one.  If possible, start volunteering at events and meeting other Board members – this will help you gain more insight on the responsibilities.  Lastly, be honest with yourself about the commitment your willing to make to serve on the Board.

RG: If you have a passion for WICT and what it stands for and want to channel that passion to help continue the successful impact that WICTSE has had on its members for nearly 40 years, then the board is for you! It is hard work, it takes up some of your time and some of your energy, but the tradeoff is what you’ll remember the most. The work you do on the board is rewarding, far-reaching and allows you to offer the membership base multiple developmental and professional growth opportunities.

SH: Be transparent with your manager about the time commitment. Talk to current and former board members to get their perspective. Do your due diligence. Bring your enthusiasm, fresh perspective and commitment to our mission of creating women leaders in our industry. And plan to receive a huge return on your investment.

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WICT Southeast is currently looking for enthusiastic, organized, and dedicated members who would like to run for the 2021 Board of Directors! Serving on the Board is a great way to expand your leadership skills, connect with a diverse group of professionals, and make a positive impact on the industry. Click here for more information.

I’m a black woman working in the telecommunications industry and I have questions.

By Ciji Townsend

I’m a black woman. And because I’m a black woman, unfortunately the recent senseless acts fueled by systemic racism isn’t new to me. But the collective response that extends outside of my community and spills over into the streets via protests and rallies in all 50 states and 14 countries is quite different than what I’ve experienced in my lifetime.

Ciji Townsend, Senior Manager, Internal Communications, Cox Communications

Even with all of the attention and heightened concern, I still have questions. What happens next? What’s the long-term plan? And, specifically what’s the role of my colleagues in the telecommunications and cable industry? 

By now you’ve probably heard that you need to listen to black voices.

Let’s take it one step further and both listen and learn. Now is the time to increase your network beyond the one black team member that you call on when you have a question. Listen to multiple voices, invite new people to the conversation that wouldn’t normally have a seat at the table. And let’s give ourselves permission to be ok with both formal and informal listening sessions. Now on to the learning. Listening isn’t enough. Be intentional about learning what you don’t know and re-learning what you think you already know. In our industry we are vital to the information that is consumed by the masses. Before we make major decisions, we need to listen and learn to better understand the cause and effect of systemic racism.

Everyone is watching. 

Speaking of content, all eyes are glued to their screens right now. In the past few months because of the disruption caused by COVID-19, families are at home and the consumption of television shows, movies and documentaries is at an all-time high. How can we be better stewards of diversifying that content? Let’s be honest, technology has turned black voices into the biggest media company in the world. Is your company paying attention? Are you amplifying black stories and movies that have black lead actors beyond black history month?

Pace yourself for the long-haul.

Yes, the outcry is loud right now. And we all know that it will only take one major news story for the momentum to dwindle. So, what commitment will we make now, as voices in our industry to ensure that the work done today continues to show up tomorrow?

There are many questions that have yet to be answered. And our industry is perfectly positioned to encourage the continuation of race-based conversations and to even provide a stage not only for awareness but also change. 

What are your thoughts? What can our industry do to spark change and keep the conversation and momentum going? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

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As an organization whose mission is based on equality, WICT is committed to diversity and inclusion in all aspects of life. We stand firm with our partners and the communities we serve to eradicate systemic racism like that we witnessed with George Floyd and many others. WICT stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition, we will address the civil unrest during all of our programs for the foreseeable future. We will never stop using our platform to shine a spotlight on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. All of us wish for peace and wellness for all of our brothers and sisters in our extended community.

Our hope is that together, we will rise above and emerge more united than ever before. Be well, stay strong.

6 Questions for UP’s Angela Cannon

Never second guess yourself or your abilities.”

An Interview with Angela Cannon

WICT Southeast sat down with Angela Cannon, Vice President, Channel Manager for UP Faith & Family, to ask her six burning questions and tell us why, now more than ever, it’s essential to renew your membership or join WICT Southeast.

Tell me 3 personal things that people might find surprising.

Angela Cannon Vice President, Channel Manager UP Faith and Family

Let’s see…

  • When I first started college, I had every intention to attend medical school to become an OBGYN.  I worked as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and later worked at a hospital as a Phlebotomist to earn money for college.
  • I ran a half marathon in Kona, Hawaii, to raise funds for stroke victims.
  • I’m an author of a children’s book, “Who Am I? I’m God’s Princess” and I own an e-commerce beauty store, called I Love Us. 

Briefly, tell us about your path to your current position at UP Family & Family!

My career path has definitely had some interesting twists along the way.  I majored in Biology during college, and upon graduation, immediately moved to Los Angeles.  After a few disappointing interviews to be a lab technician, I landed a research analyst role at Warner Bros.  While working in research, I caught the entertainment bug, and also wanted to further my education. I decided to obtain a post-graduate degree and earned an MBA with a concentration in marketing.  After graduating, I was working at Walt Disney as a Sr. Research Analyst and abruptly decided to take a leap of faith to move to Atlanta.  I began a new role at Gospel Music Channel/UP Entertainment three weeks prior to the launch of the network and 15 years later, I’m still here.

My journey at UP Entertainment has afforded me extensive experience to launch new networks, including UPtv and aspire TV, as well as the direct-to-consumer Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) service, UP Faith & Family, across technologies, distribution platforms, and devices.  I’ve also worked in content distribution and marketing, and international program sales. 

I began my career at Gospel Music Channel/UP Entertainment creating research affiliate and ad sales decks, which led to building the affiliate marketing department, which led to becoming VP, Affiliate Marketing and VP, National Accounts, Content Distribution and Marketing.  In this role, not only was I lead marketer with top distributors DIRECTV, DISH and Amazon, but one of my most notable accomplishments was being a key member of the team that conceptualized and launched aspire TV, in partnership with Earvin “Magic” Johnson.  Aspire TV is the entertainment destination that reflects, shares and celebrates the experiences of black culture and urban lifestyle.

I was fortunate to lead all marketing efforts for our SVOD service, UP Faith & Family.  After several years working on the SVOD service with distributors and serving a pivotal role in relaunching the direct to consumer app, I am now Vice President and Channel Manager, heading up the service for the past year and a half.  I oversee strategic planning and business strategy, while orchestrating daily operations including technology, management of P&L, content acquisition, programming, marketing, distribution, data science, operations, planning and analysis.

Working at UP Entertainment, aspire TV and ultimately, UP Faith & Family, have afforded me the opportunity to get up each day and work for brands that unapologetically hold true to inspiring others to be a better version of themselves through positive and uplifting entertainment.  Who wouldn’t love to say inspiring others is my true passion?

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

Oh, do you mean just 5 years ago?  Just kidding. Well, looking back, I would tell myself to “be fearless”, “get comfortable, being uncomfortable”, because that’s where growth is and “never second guess yourself or your abilities.”  There are moments in my career where taking the easy road seemed to be best choice. However, had I just been fearless and looked at life as a gift worth living to the fullest, I definitely would have made some different decisions.  I’m also a believer that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Where I sit right now in this iteration of our swiftly evolving, video streaming industry, I’m truly blessed.

I would also tell myself to be more mindful of the gifts God gave me.  Being an innovator, motivator, conceptualist, executor and confidant are my corporate gifts.  It all works for our good, but we must recognize our unique gifts and be grateful for them.

In our industry, change seems to be happening more quickly than ever. How do you personally deal with unexpected change and how do you help your team navigate it? 

In this ever-evolving world, it’s very important to stay informed on new technologies, monitor changes and advances in the industry, and be relentless about how to continue to build your skillsets within it. Streaming, although on a growth trajectory, is still a relatively small industry. Networking and getting involved in industry events, webinars, conferences are key.  I’m proud to say I serve as a mentor for the Women in Streaming Media Pilot Mentorship Program and have built a strong network of mentors in the industry to help me navigate the nuances of this ever-evolving industry.

For the team I lead, this narrative is no different.  I encourage them to get involved in industry organizations, seminars, events, webinars etc., network, create alliances with colleagues in the industry, and above all else, continue to take advantage of all educational opportunities.  You can never know enough and the advances in technology, digital marketing strategies, and best practices evolve on a daily basis. The core of what we do is to optimize and test everything. If it was good the first time, then it can be great the next time.

I’m a motivator by nature. I expect a great deal of my team. I constantly ask the hard questions, encourage excellence and push them to always be forward-thinking. In this streaming world, there is no status-quo. Therefore, we can’t be status quo either.  That is why I love this industry so much.  No day, no problem, and no solution are the same.

What guidance do you have for someone who is looking to advance their career in the cable industry during this tumultuous time of cord cutting and now COVID-19?

My advice would be to become an expert in understanding the shifts in the industry. You must be vigilant in your efforts to understand how SVOD, AVOD, TVOD, Live-Linear, e-commerce, mobile, etc., fit into your current career path. Television, and particularly cable television, is still a vital business.  However, the new digital video space is a true force that has shaken up the way we program our networks, market to and connect with our viewers and produce new or acquire content.  Additionally, the technologies we use, data and audience insights are all being impacted by streaming. 

Some companies were already remote-friendly, but with the onset of COVID-19, other companies had to pivot and adapt very quickly. Therefore, offering positions that can easily be performed remotely are going to become more of the norm, and frankly, more of what the work-force expects.  If you aren’t tech savvy, take a class. There are plenty of courses that are accessible and available for no to low cost.  If you’re interested in digital marketing, data science, social media, graphic design or omni-channel opportunities (email, SMS, Push, social media, etc.), then by all means, take the time to learn as much as you can.

This year’s theme for WICT Southeast is “Connect to your peers, your industry and everything around you.” In what way does this resonate with you and why do you think this message is important now more than ever for people who have not joined or renewed their WICT membership?

I don’t know about you, but living in the midst of a pandemic, communication is now relegated to Zoom meetings, Facetime or Microsoft Teams calls, which aided in re-evaluating my priorities. Creating space to “be still” has afforded me the opportunity to better connect with family, friends and co-workers on a level I was not able to before.

Life seemed to pass so quickly prior to March 2020. It was filled with work, home and church, other hobbies and my activities with WICT.  But the weeks were long and weekends felt super short to non-existent.  Although I have been blessed to continue to work and be home with family, I have made a focused priority to continue to lead by learning. I connect through webinars (WICT offers great topics), seek out classes, research other companies’ best practices, dive deeply into our KPI’s (Key performance Indicators) and continue to analyze strengths and weaknesses to enhance the strategic stake in the marketplace for the SVOD service I lead, as well as for myself and my team. 

WICT, by far, is an organization that never fails its members.  Even in a pandemic, the opportunities to learn and grow your career and personal life were/are vast. From lunch & learns on financial tips in uncertain times, to continuous webinars on industry topics to pro-social efforts, WICT is a well-rounded “essential” organization.  I for one, am a proud member.  Advancing career opportunities and an increased network of strong industry professionals, make it all worth it.  If you have not joined or renewed your WICT membership, do it today! 

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WICT offers four levels of membership. Membership dues are based on your career level, providing a more affordable alternative to those just starting out. It’s easy to join! For more information on what a WICT membership can do for you or to renew your membership, go here for more information.

FROM BOARDROOM TO BALLROOM: GAIL SERMERSHEIM, WICT FOUNDING PRESIDENT

 

By Dana Dawson

As a WICT co-founder, first WICT President, co-founder of CTAM, 2002 Cable Hall of Famer, NCTA Vanguard Award winner, and WICT Southeast Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Gail Sermersheim is no stranger to both challenge and triumph.  A trailblazer with many firsts, Sermersheim’s perseverance, authenticity and passion for results were keys to her success both in and out of the boardroom.

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Sermersheim started her cable career in the late 1960s. She worked for a small MSO for 12 years and then landed at HBO where she retired as a senior executive after almost 3 decades. Shortly after she joined HBO, the then President of the company took her aside and said he’d like to see her become the company’s first female vice president for the sales and marketing division. From that moment on, she made it her mission to do whatever it took to prepare for the role.  And you know what?! She received the promotion in less than two years!

 “Men dominated the decision-making at all levels,” said Sermersheim, “at the time, sexual harassment was a tolerated business and social practice.”  She shared, “it was not uncommon to turn down both an unwanted advance and a business proposition at the same time.”  She went on to say, “women were expected to comply or just ignore it as reporting the behavior had no consequence.”

Picture2Focused on building strong relationships with her male counterparts, Sermersheim earned their respect.  She says, “while at times I had been subjected to pay inequity and passed over for big promotions, I learned how to harness my superpower.”  With assets such as focusing on facts, applying tough negotiating skills and using her charm, Sermersheim is unapologetic about leveraging her skill set to move forward.  

The journey to establishing WICT wasn’t an easy one.  Sermersheim and other founding members had to downplay the intent of WICT so that they could gain male sponsorship and support since the men held the purse strings.  She said, “the original documents stated WICT’s mission to be one of educating women rather than empowering them.” And in her view, “the real goal was to take the men’s jobs!”Picture1

Sermersheim hung up her corporate hat in 2002 and traded it in for dancing shoes.  She retired to Florida after almost 40 years in the cable industry.  These days you can find the 76-year-old cable veteran and women’s rights activist traveling the world on a wildlife safari or living out her best life as a competitive ballroom dancer.

To learn more about this WICT pioneer, click HERE

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WICT Southeast is celebrating its 40th Anniversary.  Throughout the year we will be highlighting quotes and stories from former WICT Southeast leaders and members in our newsletter and on our website and social media platforms. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

 

R.E.A.L MAN OF WICT: Corey Prince

WICT Southeast has lots of R.E.A.L Men in our chapter. These are our male members who personify Rewarding, Equality, and Leadership.   In this new interview series, we have five compelling Questions to get to know these R.E.A.L Men of WICT.

WICT Southeast blog writer, Ana Adler sat down with Corey Prince to get his take on what having a WICT Membership means to him.

Corey Prince

 

Name: Corey Prince

Location: Atlanta

Where do you currently work, and what’s your current role?  Senior Director of People Solutions at UpTV

Why did you join WICT? What inspired you to look past the W in the name?

Many years ago, I was invited to the Red Letter Awards. I was new to TV and hadn’t heard much about the organization at that time. But being at the gala and hearing the stories of all of these accomplished women, blew me away. I was so inspired. I remembered walking away saying to myself, “Wow, I need to be better, I need to do more.” Part of me just wanted to be a part of this success.  I wanted to learn from all these women. So, when I heard they accepted men as members, I jumped on it and joined. Months later, I connected with their Membership Director and asked them to come by the office to do a presentation on the benefits of becoming a member. Because the employees loved it so much, we decided to fund their WICT memberships in January each year. If you are interested, we will cover it. And to this day, we are still doing it.

What is it that you find most rewarding about being a member?

I think developing professional relationships with people is key, but it’s also about giving back.  It’s a great opportunity to learn about people, assess their needs, and then determine how I can help. I just like being inspired by the people I meet and I interact with.

In thinking of the theme of this series REAL men of WICT (Rewarding Equality and Leadership), how has membership in WICT influenced your thinking, either personally or professionally?

For me, it’s a reminder of the work we still have to do, particularly in my role in HR, around ensuring that people are working in environments that allow them to be successful. Making sure we bring people’s attention to unconscious bias and calling it out when we see it. Even as HR professionals, despite being trained not to let biases influence our decision, we still have to check ourselves and ensure we embrace people for who they are and what they bring to the table from a skillset standpoint.

Our theme this year is Inspire, and others will follow. What has worked for you in inspiring others?

Leading by example, not being afraid to show my vulnerability as a leader.  Being open to doing what is needed regardless of my position. It also means not being afraid to let people fail and supporting failure in a good way, by asking, “What would you do differently?” “How do we learn from it?” versus making anyone feel incompetent. That’s the last thing on my mind. That’s not how you do it. You just help them realize that part of their learning is figuring out what they would do differently. What you find is that people start doing it for themselves and you don’t have to prompt them anymore. That’s when you know you’ve hit it because now, they are walking themselves through that thought process.

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WICT Southeast Blog writer, Ana Adler is a tri-lingual freelance content creator whose mad skills include the words creative director, writer/producer, video editor, project manager, copywriter, and mamá.

 

 

3 UNEXPECTED PLACES TO FIND INSPIRATION

By Lisa Conklin

“Who inspires you?” It’s an age-old question successful people get asked all the time. Typical answers range from politicians to celebrities to humanitarians. But I want to encourage you to look beyond the obvious, to dig deeper and find nuggets of inspiration you may not realize are right in front of you. Here are three places I’ve found inspiration that may surprise you.

  1. Co-workers, but not the ones you think of first. A lot of times, when looking for inspiration in the workplace, we set our sights on the top leadership. And while those folks are certainly worthy, I’ve found just as much inspiration in my everyday colleagues.

Looking beyond our workplace interactions, I see co-workers who are also parents, bloggers, activists, and athletes. I see the mom of three daughters who, by the way, just beat breast cancer. I see the openly gay colleague bravely leading a Pride employee resource group. I see a gal successfully building her side-gig brand while rocking the bonus-mom life. I see the woman who keeps her spirits high while living with Multiple Sclerosis.

Each of these people gives me different levels of inspiration on a daily basis. And they probably have no idea that by being their true selves, they’ve sparked endless inspiration. Look for those people in your life or on your team. The ones who aren’t in the spotlight but are quietly doing good things against great odds.

  1. A mentee, an intern, or a high schooler. As the famous quote goes, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Or is it? Many of you are involved in mentoring programs through your company, through WICT or something informal. We usually hear stories about mentee learning from their mentor. But what if we flipped the script and sought inspiration from those we mentor, or from those with less experience?

I recently read about a program at my company called “MentorUP,” where women in frontline positions have the opportunity to mentor a leader at corporate headquarters. This unique structure has already resulted in deeper understanding, open dialogues, genuine connections, and undoubtedly, inspiration. How cool is that?

As I think about other ways to apply this idea, I consider the summer intern in my department or my teenage nephew, who just graduated high school. How can we harness the energy and drive young people naturally have – and use it as inspiration in our own lives? When I recently asked my nephew what one word was meaningful or inspirational to him (so I could engrave it on a bracelet), he immediately responded with the word “GO.” When I pressed him for the meaning, it was simple: “GO” was a reminder to keep going, to keep moving and to go out and achieve his dreams – just GO. I was surprised that something so simple could be so powerful, and I’ve thought about it almost every day since. Kids these days, #amiright?

  1. Yourself. I’m not saying you need to go all Saturday Night Live “Stuart Smalley” (did I just date myself?), but there really is something to positive affirmations. They’ve been scientifically linked to increased achievement and health benefits, among other things.

When I’m facing a tough challenge, it helps to look back at past experiences and put things in perspective. I think about times where I’ve done something just as hard before, or I’ve overcome a similar obstacle. Remembering that I’ve been successful in similar situations is, well, inspiring! In my personal life, I’m a marathoner and endurance athlete (the word “athlete” is used loosely here). When I’m exhausted, in pain or not sure I can get my bike up the next hill – I think back to my training and remember that I’ve done this distance before, or I’ve conquered a hill like this before – so I know without a doubt I can do it. This line of positive thinking has helped me cross some tough finish lines, both personally and professionally.

If you’re in unchartered territory, another idea is to focus on positive outcomes as inspiration. Visualize yourself crossing the finish line, completing the project, or getting the promotion. Much of our success in life comes down to our thought habits and patterns. Get into the habit of focusing on positive outcomes, rather than excuses, and be an inspiration to yourself.

 

With “inspire” being one of the WICT Touchstones of Leadership, I hope these three unexpected sources of inspiration resonate with you.

 

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Lisa Conklin is on the internal communications team at Cox Communications in Atlanta (by way of Kansas), where she focuses on executive and employee communications. She describes herself as a triathlon junkie, solo traveler, and accidental hippie.

5 Questions for Wargo French’s David Pernini

Presented by: 

WICT SOUTHEAST BLOG WRITER, ANA ADLER SAT DOWN WITH David Pernini TO ASK HIM SOME QUESTIONS AND GET THE SCOOP ON WARGO FRENCH’S LEVEL UP: CHARTING A NEW COURSE WHEN YOUR CAREER IS AT A CROSSROAD FOR WICT SOUTHEAST. DON’T MISS THIS EXECUTIVE MEMBER EVENT, MAY 21ST IN ATLANTA.

 

Name: David Pernini

Location: Atlanta

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

Managing Partner – Wargo French, a full-service law firm based in Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles

 

 

 

 

What is your background and did you get involved with Cable Television?

 

It was through the law firm. My dad was in the Navy so I moved all around as a kid and landed in Atlanta in 1997. The Cable Industry is so big in Atlanta that, when you practice law, it’s almost impossible not to get involved. Working with the Cable Industry was something that happened organically. I think broadcasting in all forms brings up so many diverse legal issues that remain interesting and challenging.  It changes so much; you always have to be looking 3 or 4 steps ahead as to what the next technology is going to be. We’ve seen in our lifetime so many different types of technology and what appears will be the next great thing often fizzles out quickly and the technology you didn’t expect becomes huge. I remember when I first heard about Twitter and I thought it seemed like a silly idea and now it dominates. You have to be prepared.

 

Why did you join WICT and why do you support it?  What about WICT makes it important for other men to join?

 

I joined WICT through Wargo French. We’ve always had very strong women lawyers here. It always surprised me how for a long time in the legal profession it was just assumed that you had to be the white male with the gray hair to get the corner office. There’s so much talent out there that’s ignored and shouldn’t be ignored just because it doesn’t fit that paradigm. So, when Wargo French started supporting WICT it seemed like a perfect idea, and having men be a part of WICT reinforces that overcoming the existing paradigm is not a women’s issue but a societal issue and it makes it more difficult to ignore.

 

On May 21st, Wargo French is hosting an upcoming WICT executive event about pivoting careers during times of change.  What tips can you give our readers if their job is currently at a crossroad?

 

I think that everyone, at some point, reaches a crossroads in their career. Success comes from recognizing the adversity that you run into and learning from it in a good way. I’m a huge UVA basketball fan. In last year’s NCAA tournament, UVA was the number one team, they were supposed to be the best team in the tournament. The way it works in the tournament is that the best team plays the worst team in their bracket to start out. So that happened last year and UVA lost, they lost to the worst team in the tournament, and it was the first time in the history of the NCAA tournament that a number one seed had lost the first game. But they didn’t just lose, they got solid beat by 20 points, it was humiliating. This year UVA won the National Championship. It was fascinating to watch how the team did that. They didn’t just pretend that they had not had a humiliating loss; they embraced the adversity. They decided “this is not who we are, but we also cannot ignore that it happened, so how can we learn from that, own it and go forward?” I think we all can learn lessons from that story because adversity happens.  You’re going to encounter it, so you need to learn how overcome it, get the panic gone, and just take one step forward and do the next right thing. In my view, we can take the hardships that come up and say, “I own this, what does this teach me going forward, how can I learn from this, yet keep true to what I want?”  I find that’s ultimately the hardest part, people deciding what they want. That can be tough to give anyone advice on. People have to take the time to look at themselves and say, “here’s what I have, what is it that I want out of this?” Figuring out what’s important to you. Unfortunately, in the business world, we all want to make money, but that can’t be the only thing because it’s ultimately very unfulfilling.

 

What would you say is the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

Many of our readers are fresh out of college, what career advice would you give your 21-year self?

 

I don’t know if this is the best advice that I’ve been given but it’s the one that I often use as a lawyer, and it’s that it’s called the Practice of Law, it’s not called the Perfect of Law. Mistakes are going to happen. Your goal should be to make no mistakes, but you can’t have that as a realistic view. You will make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. When you do, see why it happened, see what you can do to prevent it in the future, acknowledge it and then move forward. I think if you try to pretend you didn’t do it you won’t learn from it. Conversely, if you focus on your mistakes too much, you’ll be stuck there. To go back to the UVA game, there’s a quote UVA coach referenced, “if you treat adversity right it will buy you a ticket to a place you couldn’t have gone any other way.”  I just love that reflection.

 

The WICT touchstone theme this year is Inspire and others will follow.  What characteristics do you admire in other leaders? What has worked for you in inspiring others to follow?

 

Calmness in an emergency. In litigation, which is what I do, you’re in a fight. There are always bad things happening and sometimes they’re worse than others. Being able to keep your cool, under those circumstances, is what I look for in people I’m going to follow. In turn, when the associates that work for me come in and they’re panicked about a situation, I try to stay calm about it without ignoring how serious it is.

 

This is a random thought but, someone gave me and my wife this advice for our wedding a long time ago: When you’re planning for a wedding accept that two things are going to go wrong.  When they happen, instead of panicking, you remember there were going to be things that go wrong and they did. Having that attitude when something comes up allows people to press forward.

 

One caveat is that calm can sometimes go too far, and calm can be viewed as a lack of understanding of the magnitude of the problem. That’s really the balance of a good leader, being able to stay calm and still show that I understand how serious a problem is, especially with clients.  If I call the client and I’m just completely calm just as their world is falling apart, that can also be problematic. I need to have the empathy to show I understand what they’re going through. To show I’m not just being calm because it’s not important, I’m being calm because I’m trying to get to the solution.

 

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Wargo & French LLP and WICT Southeast are partnering together May 21st in Atlanta provide executive members insights on navigating career paths when changes arise. Learn more

 

 

Ana Adler is a tri-lingual freelance content creator whose mad skills include the words writer/producer, video editor, project manager, copywriter, and mamá.

 

 

Five Questions for Cisco’s Morgan Bondon

WICT Southeast blog writer, Ana Adler sat down with Morgan Bondon to ask him 5 burning questions and get the scoop on Cisco’s Inspire to Innovate Fellowship for WICT Southeast.

 

 

 

 

 

Name: Morgan Bondon

Where are you located: Atlanta

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

Vice President, Sales Cable & Media, Americas Service Provider – Cisco

 

 

Why did you join WICT? What inspired you to look past the W in the name?

A couple of reasons, I have an older sister who graduated from Northwestern with a degree in Math.  She went into the “real world” and felt very intimidated in the business world because she was a woman. I was younger and didn’t have an appreciation or understanding of why she felt that way, but that really kind of inspired me to try and make a difference in that if I ever got the opportunity. Secondly, I have a 17-year-old daughter and I’ll be damned if that ever happens to her. I really feel we’re at a moment in time right now, with our generation, to truly make the permanent difference. I want to do everything, on every platform that I have, to help that cause. Also, it’s my industry and I love the people, and I don’t really see a “W” or an “M”, I’m on the board and it’s not uncomfortable for me, I enjoy it.

 

What is it that you find most rewarding about being a member?

I know it may sound cliché, but just listening. I learn a lot and, as much as I have passion around WICT, what it offers and what it can provide, it doesn’t mean that I have a true appreciation and understanding of the issues women face. I have not experienced that in my life and there is nothing I can do to change that, so I like listening and learning. Some of the stories blow me away, I don’t think that way and I can’t believe what some people do, but it’s a good uncomfortable to listen to the challenges that some of these women have had. A good uncomfortable because I’m learning the realities of what people have gone through that I just have never had to go through personally and an appreciation and it makes me a better person, a better leader, a better father a better husband, everything, it makes me better.

 

In thinking of the theme of REAL Men of WICT (Rewarding Equality and Leadership), how has membership in WICT influenced your thinking, either personally or professionally?

To get specific on it, I’m definitely more aware. There may not be a female candidate in the interviewing pool of a job, but I will make sure to have at least one on the hiring panel. I have a much better appreciation and I apply it in my thought process. When I’m talking to other male members of my team, I try to really impress upon them the importance of inclusion because, unless you’ve really taken the time to understand someone’s story, it’s hard to even put that in your mindset when you’re doing an interview. WICT has given me a different perspective and that’s a good thing.

 

Our theme this year is Inspire and others will follow. What has worked for you in inspiring others?

I’m always inspired by learning, as much as I love to talk. I have an Italian mom and talking is what we do, but I really love to listen, and the leaders that have inspired me the most are the ones I learn from, and you can’t learn if you don’t listen. I get more out of conversations with the leaders that have truly made an impression because I learn a lot from them, not just about business, but in general. The leaders I’ve gravitated to have always given me life examples, not just data, and I try to do the same. People tick differently.  If I know they love to travel, for example, I talk to them about that, I try to connect with them on a level that humanizes the interaction. I think so often now we get into this data-driven world and we forget the human element, so I try to make sure that I’m a human first and a leader second.

 

Cisco is providing an Inspire to Innovate fellowship this year. Why do you feel it is important to transform the way we think about and practice innovation? Why invest in a WICT member?

Look if we don’t innovate what are we leaving behind?  I look at what the internet provides: So many wonderful things but also so many awful things. So many people just blindly do things that the internet provides because it’s as easy as the touch of a button, but they don’t think through the consequences of that. So, innovation to me is making sure people understand what could happen but continuing to innovate to make sure we can leverage the good that technologies bring us. That’s what is really important to me. And why WICT? I mean for all the reasons I already told you, it’s a no brainer. I look at my daughter and that’s all I have to do, it’s very simple for me. Chuck Robbins our CEO has really instituted a lot of changes and a high percentage of his executive staff is female. And it’s not by “design.” If you take the time and allow yourself the right process, the right things happen naturally. And so, as a company, we’re massively focused on diversity, all kinds of diversity, not just male-female.

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Apply today for the WICT Southeast Inspire to Innovate Fellowship to attend the Fall CableLabs Innovation Boot camp that will be held Oct. 15 – 18, 2019 in Colorado. The application deadline is May 31st, 2019. Click here to find out more.

 

WICT Southeast’s Ana Adler is a tri-lingual freelance content creator whose mad skills include the words writer/producer, video editor, project manager, copywriter, and mama.

 

 

 

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.