Honoring HR’s Most Resourceful

For helping to reorganize a programmer’s visual-effects operations, leading a cable company through the travails of the Affordable Care Act and developing a leading cable provider’s first change-management strategy roadmap, human-resources executives at Turner Broadcasting System, Charter Communications and Comcast Cable will be honored this week with Excellence in HR Awards from the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association.

The awards will be presented at a luncheon in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Oct. 14. (See box.)

These are the awards and their recipients.

Team Innovator of the Year

Turner Broadcasting System’s Global Technology and Operations Human Resources Team

This award recognizes a company that demonstrated innovative, creative problem-solving that positively affected business results. Composed of Caron Cone, director of HR; Nicole Johnson, manager of HR; and Josephine Wong, HR generalist, Turner Broadcasting System’s Global Technology and Operations (GTO) HR Team was selected as this year’s recipient for successfully realigning the company’s visual effects and animation division, resulting in increased internal use of the unit’s services.

Working with Arthur David, vice president of effects, and three members of his leadership team, the GTO HR Team embarked on a Strategic Workforce Planning effort, which included SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, goal-setting and HR analytics. In doing so, the team determined that the growth and survival of the effects division depended heavily on its ability to ensure the talent pool was more reflective of the external market. The team also concluded that the peaks and troughs of the effects business required a more dynamic and nontraditional staffing approach.

“Despite the magnitude of the challenges we faced, our HR partners facilitated and pushed us every step of the way to leave no stone unturned, to be courageous and make tough decisions, and to balance that fortitude with a healthy dose of compassion for our staff,” Arthur David wrote in his nomination. “My leadership team and I could not have asked for better partnership and expertise or more dedicated effort as we took unprecedented actions to reshape our organization and position us for future success.”

Turner Studios restructured the effects division to better align the group with the needs of internal customers, implement a flexible, contemporarily skilled workforce capable of meeting the ebbs and flows of client demand and realign job roles to be reflective of current market dynamics. After implementing these changes, utilization of the effects staff has approached maximum levels in 2014, up 40% from the year prior.

In 2010, Turner Broadcasting’s HR Technology team won a CTHRA award for creating a Global Employee Portal.

Aspiring Leader

Beth Biggs, Charter Communications

The CTHRA Aspiring Leader Award recognizes an emerging HR professional whose fresh perspective, inventive ideas and innovative approach have positively affected the leadership and culture of the organization. CTHRA’s 2014 Aspiring Leader is Beth Biggs, senior director of benefits for Charter Communications.

Since joining the company in 2010, Biggs has been an invaluable resource with respect to driving quality programs, delivering results and ensuring Charter is competitive in its benefits offerings.

Faced with the compliance and regulatory requirements of the Affordable Care Act, Biggs was faced with managing significant cost increases in health plans for Charter’s more than 22,000 employees. In presenting her proposal to keep benefit costs stable for employees, she created a compelling business case that recommended the company absorb the additional cost. She clearly outlined the cost-benefit analysis of her proposal, including competitiveness in the marketplace, employee morale and retention.

Last year, her scope of responsibility was expanded beyond benefits to include mergers and acquisitions, and she embraced the change while proving her versatility.

“Beth has demonstrated exceptional leadership as she positioned Charter for necessary changes, including healthcare reform,” Abby Pfeiffer, senior vice president of HR for Charter, said. “She brings innovat ion and an inventive approach to the programs she implements.”

Leadership Excellence Award

Kerri St. Jean, Comcast

The CTHRA Leadership Excellence Award recognizes an HR executive who has demonstrated extraordinary and visionary leadership in addressing a critical business issue, challenge or opportunity by enhancing the organization’s efficiency, performance, cost management or profitability. Kerri St. Jean, senior vice president of HR for Comcast Cable, Northeast Division, was selected as this year’s recipient.

St. Jean has more than 25 years of industry experience and had held positions at Cablevision Systems, MediaOne Group and AT&T Broadband before joining Comcast in 2003. Throughout her career, she has been a visionary leader whose influence extends nationally due to her natural ability to see the larger strategic opportunity and long-term view when presented with challenges, CTHRA said. She is highly effective at engaging and shepherding high-performance teams to drive implementation through collaboration and perseverance.

Her recent work leading a national team of HR senior executives has led to the development of Comcast’s first change management strategy for high-impacting business initiatives. The outcome was a detailed roadmap that outlines the steps and sequence needed to execute effective organizational change, including change architecture, situations that derail change, a curriculum designed to teach and build the skills and most needed competencies and consulting frameworks that underlie successful change and transition.

“To some extent, this change management program is a part of the reorientation of HR at Comcast as a whole,” Bill Strahan, executive vice president of Comcast Cable HR, who nominated St. Jean, said. “Our focus on business issues as an HR team is now underpinned by our discipline and competency around change management.

“Kerri’s leadership and vision, multiplied by her operational engagement and personal history, is what made this a defining initiative for us rather than simply another good program that may or may not sustain,” he added.

About CTHRA’s Awards

CTHRA’s Excellence in HR Awards were launched in 2007 to honor HR professionals within the cable and satellite industry whose outstanding achievement, leadership and innovation have positively impacted business results. Since the inception, the awards have been sponsored by Multichannel News.

Awards go to a team, an individual leader and an aspiring leader.

The awards luncheon will take place during CTHRA’s Insight & Impact Symposium on Tuesday (Oct. 14) in Philadelphia.

Diversity and inclusion are among the topics that will be discussed at the symposium. Jason Collins, the NBA’s first-openly gay player (a free agent who last season played for the Brooklyn Nets), and LZ Granderson, a journalist and commentator for ESPN and CNN, will discuss LGBT athletes and what employers need to consider when building a culture of inclusiveness in their organizations.

To register and read more, click through at multichannel.com/Oct13.