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.

Joe Wargo, Partner at Wargo French

Interviewed by Courtney Madson

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Name: Joe Wargo

Where do you currently work? Wargo French LLP 

What’s your role? Partner

Where are you currently located? Atlanta, GA

What are three interesting personal facts you’d like to share with readers?

  • I grew up in a bilingual household speaking both English and Spanish. I grew up in part in the Dominican Republic, where my mom is from.
  • My dad worked for a company that transferred him to different offices, so I moved around a lot as a kid. Meeting new people all the time was a great way to get comfortable meeting people and networking as an adult.
  • I am a student pilot and will be getting my pilot license this fall!

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

Best advice:  Life is a marathon, not a sprint.  Do your best to take things in stride, recognizing and embracing the long term.  Don’t focus too much on the short term.

Worst advice: Have a long memory.  I have seen people hurt their careers trying to exact revenge on someone for something done years earlier.  Move on.

Can you give me a brief overview of what role is and in what ways you engage with media companies?

We provide full-service counseling to cable and media companies, including, providing strategic legal advice and assessing legal issues regarding new initiatives and product lines.  More particularly, we provide day to day advice regarding general corporate matters including mergers and acquisitions, commercial transactions and corporate governance, intellectual property issues including licensing and acquisition of technology assets, employment questions and bankruptcy concerns.  Additionally, our litigation team handles litigations of all sorts – from class actions to employment disputes as well as pre-litigation strategy and dispute resolution.

What kind of big ideas are you now seeing and why is it important to the cable industry?

Right now the industry is changing – there are a lot of new ideas and technology.  Being a catalyst plays into that because new ideas are important to the industry and set yourself apart.  Telecommunications and media companies are re-defining themselves.  Media/content companies are making content available online (different than traditional cable) and monetizing revenue differently (online advertising) and telecom companies are expanding into home security, solar plates, and new technology.  All those ideas come from catalysts, and that is what is needed to survive and grow in these challenging times.

What advice would you give someone in the cable industry looking to start-up an accelerator program?

Don’t re-invent the wheel.  There are so many resources out there today as compared to a few years ago.  And there is money too. You have to ask around and be diligent, but that time could save you dollars/effort and could be the difference between success and failure because your competition is plugging into those resources.  So you better take advantage of those resources too.

Why are organizations, like WICT, so valuable to the success of your employees and your company?

WICT is valuable because it provides an open forum for networking and the exchange of ideas.  This should not be taken for granted.   Networking and exchanging ideas are at the top of the list for becoming successful.  And WICT is one of the best organizations I have seen as far as providing a supportive an open forum for the exchange of ideas.  People are very open to networking in WICT.

WICT’s theme this year is to “Be A Catalyst.” In what ways do you find that “Being a Catalyst” has helped you in your career or helped your clients?

Being a catalyst is a great phrase to define how we approach counseling our clients.  So often organizations and sometimes people hold onto the status quo to their detriment.  We try to be the steady hand on the wheel, but at all times moving the ship in a direction as opposed to standing still.  That sounds simple, but many organizations are anchored and unwilling to seize an opportunity.  Sometimes it is best to be anchored, but when there is a storm coming, or if changing your direction a few degrees could put you on the leading edge of a technology, or industry, you need to move forward.  Our firm aggressively engages its clients in that type of discussion – from both business and legal perspectives.

If you are a WICT executive member in Atlanta on Wednesday, September 5th, don’t miss Robin Sangston moderating the “Mergers and Acquisitions Fireside Chat” for WICT SE. The event takes place from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm at Wargo French’s office at 999 Peachtree Street NE, 26th Floor, Atlanta GA, 30309. For more information about the event, go here.