Cox, Scientific Atlanta Receive HR Awards

Atlanta -- The Orange County division of Cox Communications in Palos Verdes, Calif., and Brian Koenig, the senior vice president of human resources for Scientific Atlanta, in Lawrenceville, Ga., on Tuesday received the inaugural Excellence Awards from the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association.

The Cox unit received the 1,400-member HR group’s first Best Practices award, for a program to combat competition from other providers of multichannel video and communication services. The Palos Verdes strategy, called “Essential Pieces,” involved getting Cox employees engaged with customers, establishing a strong local presence for the company and finding ways to increase revenue, satisfy customers and reduce employee turnover. 

The award was accepted by Sharon Smith, vice president of the Employee Resources Group of Cox, who said Atlanta-based Cox made such a strategy possible by its ongoing support of employee initiatives.

The first Leadership and Excellence Award given by CTHRA went to Koenig, for his efforts to keep staff, managers and executives in the company, as Scientific Atlanta was consolidated into Cisco Systems. The Internet router and gear company paid $6.9 billion in early 2006 to acquire Scientific Atlanta. Cisco was about 10 times the size and one-third the age of 56-year-old S-A, which had about $3 billion in annual revenue at the time.

According to Mark Hilliard, a deputy general counsel for Scientific Atlanta, the Georgia maker of TV set-top boxes and other gear for interactive television networks outpaced its parent company in growing revenue; and, in general, avoided disruption of business operations.

Among Koenig’s innovations in keeping employees focused: Convincing Cisco to provide grants of restricted stock to all SA employees, according to Hilliard. That, he said, was something Cisco had never done in any other acquisition.

He also worked on change of control provisions; terms of employment with top executives; retention plans for other key talent; and putting in place a plan to move smoothly, over the long term, to Cisco’s compensation and benefits structure.

The moves keep SA turnover “at or slightly below pre-acquisition levels,” Hilliard said.