One term that could be used to sum up Comcast Advertising chief growth officer Pooja Midha’s career is also screamingly appropriate in today’s streaming video world: In demand.
A veteran of the TV ad business, with stints at ViacomCBS, Disney/ABC Television Group and ad-tech firm true[x] before joining Comcast Advertising in March, Midha has been in demand as both employee and employer. That’s partly due to her business successes: For example, as president of true[x], she led the company to record revenue and income levels and to acquisitions by and integration with The Walt Disney Co. and then Gimbal.
Comcast Advertising CEO Marcien Jenckes hired Midha in March 2021 to oversee global marketing across Comcast Advertising’s Effectv (local ad sales) and FreeWheel (ad-management solutions) components. Jenckes said he had been trying to find a spot for Midha at Comcast for years.
“She is amazingly intelligent, she understands the dynamic of the industry very well and can see around the corner into the future and what we are going to need to be successful,” Jenckes said. “She understands, and we are very philosophically aligned on this front, that the best way for our industry to be successful is to work together, not work at each other’s expense.”
Jenckes pointed to Midha’s ability to not only attract good people to work with her, but to inspire loyalty that has lasted over several positions at several employers.
Take, for example, Rick Mandler, currently VP of growth strategy at Comcast Advertising. He first worked with Midha at Disney/ABC, moved with her to true[x] and then joined her at Comcast.
“We have each other’s backs,” Mandler said. “She’s very determined and really focused on getting stuff done, but she’s also a very caring and humane person. That’s a rare combination for a leader to have.”
A former boss, retired ABC Sales president Geri Wang, first met Midha on a flight to CES in 2011. In their conversation, Wang was struck not only by Midha’s intelligence but by her ability to articulate a path to get things done.
Over the next few months, Wang worked hard to bring Midha to her team, finally hiring her away from Viacom [now ViacomCBS] as senior VP of digital ad sales.
“Each time we met it was more and more cement for our relationship,” Wang said. “I had great confidence that if Pooja joined the team she would be a superstar, and I was right. She made the team better by joining ABC and just as importantly, she made the business better.”
Midha might have never even had the chance to find her success in the advertising business if not for a little serendipity.
A native of Saskatchewan, Canada, Midha graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in international business. What drew her to advertising was equal parts practicality and happenstance: She wanted to stay in the U.S. and figured working for a big company would allow her to do just that. She picked ad sales, she said, because she figured it would give her skills that could be utilized in practically any career path she chose.
Learning to Sell, and Sell Yourself
“I thought that learning how to sell, not so much a product but your idea, your point of view and how to negotiate, would be a useful skill to have,” she said.
The advice of a mentor led her toward the ad tech business, figuring it would be good to understand not just the technology behind the ad business but how it fit into the overall process.
“It opened up this whole new side of the business for me and tons of things that I was interested in that I didn’t even realize,” she said. “It moved me closer to the part of the business that was always more interesting to me, which is where the change and transformation was happening.”
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Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.