Women to Watch
TITLE: President, Chief Operating Officer, WideOpenWest
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: The former executive vice president of wireline services of AT&T Broadband made the move to WideOpenWest last August. At WOW, which took over the Americast cable systems from SBC Communications Inc. in 2001, she has oversight for some 300,000 digital video and high-speed-data services customers in Michigan, Denver, Chicago, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.
While lack of investment capital will continue to burden overbuilders like WOW in the coming year, Abdoulah's biggest challenge may continue to be what these companies claim are predatory pricing practices by incumbent operators. WOW and other competitive providers have complained to the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice that competitors, such as WOW's biggest foe in Michigan, Comcast Corp., woo customers with special, unpublished rates.
BEST OF 2002: "The blessings of my family, friends and work. Joining WideOpenWest late summer and becoming part of an energetic, high-performance group of people."
WHAT'S ON TAP: "To compete. Continue to learn, grow and prosper."
EXECUTIVE EVOLUTION: "Without quoting statistics, overall, I believe women today are staying true to their values and pursuing their passions more than ever before. At all levels of an organization, the gift many women offer is to provide great leadership that balances intellect and emotion, bringing true personality into an organization."
AT HOME, AT PLAY: "Spending time with my 16-year-old daughter. Going to the movies. And forever trying to get into shape!"
TITLE: Senior Vice President, Original Programming, Head of Development, Comedy Central
WHY SHE'S WATCHABLE:
Prior to joining the network last July, Corrao and her partner Peter Tolan secured a production deal with Touchstone Television, where she worked on The Job, starring Denis Leary. (Through a separate deal, the show was later repurposed on Comedy.) In addition to Chappelle's Show, a sketch skein from street-smart comic Dave Chappelle that bowed on Jan. 22, and an untitled animated series from Robert Evans set to bow in October, Corrao and staff are currently in the midst of pilot season. Decisions are expected in February that will yield a number of new series, with the majority hitting during the second half of the year.
THE BEST OF 2002: "Executive-producing the critically acclaimed ABC series, The Job
with partner Peter Tolan. Surviving the overall deal cutbacks for producers and successfully landing at Comedy Central in the most exciting and creative development job in television. Meeting and working with Robert Evans."
WHAT'S ON TAP:
"With an expanded budget and rejuvenated commitment to original programming, my main focus is in finding the next big hit(s) for Comedy Central by adding as many as nine new original series this year."
EXECUTIVE EVOLUTION: "I have been lucky in that I have never felt that being a woman has hurt me in any way in this industry. I developed a philosophy early in my career that has served me well: trust my instincts, work hard, and be honest and direct with people. I'm also a pretty tough Italian kid from Providence, Rhode Island, which comes in handy, too. The hardest part is juggling a more than a full-time job with the needs of my family."
AT HOME, AT PLAY:
"I have a wonderfully supportive and creative husband, Jim Jones, two adorable children, Madison (8) and Zachary (7), and two chocolate labs, Henry and Lucky Earl, with whom I spend every possible non-working moment of my life."
TITLE: Vice president, programming, Time Warner Cable
WHY WE'RE WATCHING:
An attorney by trade, Costantini practiced law for 10 years, specializing in mergers and acquisitions with two New York firms before joining Time Warner Cable in 1996. Since then, she has taken on an increasing role in negotiating national and local agreements and reviewing and recommending programming opportunities, based on market trends and field research. Costantini works closely with senior management, particularly with executive vice president of programming Fred Dressler, and is the MSO's primary liaison with field locations for retransmission consent and compliance issues.
BEST OF 2002:
"I helped guide Time Warner Cable's efforts in obtaining program content for subscription video-on-demand and free-on-demand platforms, which have been fueling our leadership role in the deployment of these on-demand services. On a more personal note, I completed the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute program."
WHAT'S ON TAP:
"We want to create ways to keep programming costs from spiraling out of control through solutions that recognize the needs of programmers, operators and the customers. We're also focused on increasing the amount of high-definition programming Time Warner Cable offers and explore new ways of delivering content and choice to our customers."
"The industry has opened the executive suite door a bit more to women, but there is still much to be done. It's not simply the right thing to do; it is also good business."
AT HOME, AT PLAY:
"For me, it's the office, the garden, my kids' soccer field and the wine cellar. Who has time for more?"
TITLE: Marketing Director, mun2
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: A former executive at Coca-Cola de Mexico, Dergal joined Telemundo Cable in May 2000 as affiliate marketing manager. She then took a strategic role in marketing mun2 as a cable alternative for young U.S. Hispanics that bowed in October 2001. Subsequently, she has developed consumer and affiliate campaigns and launched last May u>mun2, a national internship grass-roots marketing initiative. As of mid-January, 126 students have participated in the program.
BEST OF 2002: "I feel that my greatest accomplishment last year was to help in bringing together many talented Latino professionals in media, who might otherwise have been considered competitors, with the objective of gaining recognition for the Latino youth market. u>mun2 will hopefully ensure that we ourselves will one day be replaced by young Latinos who share this goal…to empower the market itself and share their knowledge about it with others."
WHAT'S ON TAP: "What I find exciting about growing mun2 this year is that it involves educating so many sectors about the young, Latino audience, which has traditionally been underserved. Many people are just now realizing that young Latinos form a segment of their own because of their unique cultural identities and their competence in the English language. This segment is crucial to the growth of cable services, particularly those that incorporate high-tech concepts that are intimidating to older generations."
EXECUTIVE EVOLUTION: "Being fully committed to both work and family means constantly questioning whether or not you are doing the best you possibly can for both. I think our evolution as women involves accepting our choices and feeling comfortable and proud of them. Work places and extended families also need to evolve and become more flexible and appreciative of women who aim to excel in their multiple roles."
AT HOME, AT PLAY: "When I'm not at mun2, I'm with Ximena, my soon-to-be-2-year-old, teaching her new words, taking her to the park, singing nursery rhymes with hand motions. I might also be making tortilla soup and enchiladas with mole, or helping my husband, Elías, with the remodeling of our 1925 fixer-upper. In April, Ximena is expecting a little brother."
TITLE: Vice President, Digital Product Management, Cablevision Systems Corp.
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: Last among the major MSOs to roll out digital cable, Cablevision is looking to accelerate subscriber take of its iO: Interactive Optimum platform. Buoyed by a fourth-quarter marketing blitz, the MSO reached the 150,000-subscriber plateau in December. For Dolan, who oversees digital product content, strategy, branding and execution, the challenge is to maintain and build subscriber momentum now that early-adopters are on board. A newlywed, she married Cablevision CEO James Dolan last February.
BEST OF 2002: "Cablevision began 2002 with the ability to sell iO: Interactive Optimum to about 550,000 homes in the New York metropolitan area, and ended the year with 3.4 million digital homes passed. With more than 200 channels, an advanced user interface and an industry-leading on-demand component, iO is a ground-breaking service demonstrating exponential growth and customer acceptance."
WHAT'S ON TAP: "By the middle of 2003, all of Cablevision's 4.3 million homes passed will be digitally capable. Driving sales, encouraging acceptance of revenue-generating applications like VOD and SVOD, monitoring the customer experience, and continuing development of the iO product will be my focus this year."
EXECUTIVE EVOLUTION: "About one-third of all positions at the vice president level or above at Cablevision and its affiliated companies are held by women. Women run field operations, media and government relations, product management, human resources and the AMC, WE and IFC networks. In addition to digital cable, Cablevision's high-speed Internet and integrated product management teams are also headed by women. I'm proud of the company's record in this important area."
AT HOME, AT PLAY: "When I'm not at work making sure more of our customers and potential customers understand the benefits of digital cable, I'm at home with my husband, four step-sons and new puppy. I also enjoy spending time at Madison Square Garden watching the New York Knicks, Rangers, Liberty and many of the great acts that perform at the venue. And, I always save time for my favorite band: [husband Jim's] JD and The Straight Shot."
TITLE: Executive Vice President, CFO, ESPN
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: Title IX gains notwithstanding, sports remains, for the most part, a man's world. But Driessen, with ESPN since 1985 when she joined as controller, has played key roles in what sports fans, male and female, have seen on-air and read over the years. She has been instrumental in the launch of ESPN2, ESPNEWS and ESPN The Magazine, and the acquisition of ESPN Classic. She has negotiated a number of investments in ESPN holdings abroad, as well as programming rights to the four major professional sports leagues in the U.S. As other network and rights fee negotiations come up, expect Driessen to have a major impact.
BEST OF 2002: "Being a key member of the negotiating team for the NBA deal, which was concluded in 2002. This deal made ESPN the first network in TV history to carry all four major professional leagues at the same time. In addition, the structure of this deal marks a new era in negotiations that call for a broader partnership between media partners and rights holders across multiple platforms. It was great to be part of developing that new deal structure."
WHAT'S ON TAP: "Continue to motivate my team to identify and provide funding for the next big idea to meet the ever-changing needs of our fans, affiliates and advertising customers. We're well on our way with the launch of ESPN HD, a new high-definition service, in March, and the planned launch of ESPN Deportes, a new 24-hour, Hispanic-language sports channel, by year-end."
EXECUTIVE EVOLUTION: "Progress is still needed. We all need to work more aggressively on networking among women across all industry sectors, but especially in the media and sports industries to identify and provide challenging opportunities to diversity candidates. I am working with an informal group of several sports leagues and foundations that was developed in 2002, and with ESPN's initiatives to advance these objectives."
AT HOME, AT PLAY: "When not at work, my life revolves around my two children and husband, and I am thrilled to have all the challenges and rewards of being a MOM!"
TITLE: Executive Vice President, Entertainment, Lifetime Entertainment Services
WHY WE'RE WATCHING:
Fisher has a tough act to follow in succeeding Lifetime's former top programmer, Dawn Tarnofsky-Ostroff, who became president of UPN Entertainment last year. Lifetime, riding the success of its strong Sunday-night lineup and original movies franchise, became only the fourth network in basic-cable history to win the primetime ratings race in consecutive years during 2001 and 2002. Fisher, the former president of Universal Studios Network Programming, who was responsible for Just Shoot Me
(NBC) and The Steve Harvey Show
(The WB), has been busy since coming to Lifetime last May. She OKed reality series Final Justice with Erin Brockovich
(premiered Jan. 17) and What Should You Do?
(first quarter) and convinced Diane Keaton to produce and star in telepic Breaking Through. She's now looking to replace For The People, which didn't measure up to Lifetime's Sunday-night series ratings grade.
BEST OF 2002: "Joining Lifetime, the No. 1 cable network and the best team in the business, in my opinion."
WHAT'S ON TAP:
"To stay true to our viewers by delivering programming that contributes to the quality of women's lives. We hope to do this through top talent and partnerships that will ensure quality entertainment and meaningful community outreach."
EXECUTIVE EVOLUTION: "
It is exciting to see women come into their own in corporate America, transforming the office place with their unique vision and leadership. At the same time, it's important that we don't forget women are struggling all over the world for the most basic rights of human dignity. I am proud that Lifetime celebrates the remarkable lives women are making for themselves everyday, and at the same time, never loses sight of how far we still have to go."
AT HOME, AT PLAY: "I have two fabulous boys, Kyle (12) and Zach (14), and an incredibly supportive husband, Michael. I love being with my family—we hike, play tennis, go to baseball games (big Cleveland Indians fans), and see movies."
TITLE: Executive Vice President, General Manager, USA Network
WHY WE'RE WATCHING:
After five years at Comedy Central, most recently as senior vice president, programming, Ganeless joined USA in August 2001. Since then, Ganeless has been instrumental in helping USA change its programming and ratings course. After flaming out with a number of previous series attempts, USA last summer launched hit shows Monk
and The Dead Zone. Those shows must avoid sophomore slumps creatively and with Nielsen Media Research families, maintaining their buzz as USA looks to widen its series palette in 2002 with Thoughtcrimes
and Peacemakers, and score with other high-profile programming.
THE BEST OF 2002: "The launches of The Dead Zone
and Monk, which completed their debut seasons as the most-watched dramatic series in basic-cable history."
WHAT'S ON TAP: "To continue the momentum for USA, building on the past four consecutive quarters of primetime growth among 18-to-49-year-olds. To ensure that, we're looking forward to presenting a broad spectrum of quality original programming, including James Woods in Rudy: The Rudy Guiliani Story; Helen of Troy, our most lavish miniseries ever; the AFI Life Achievement Award for Robert DeNiro; and Traffic, a limited series based on the Academy Award-Winning film."
EXECUTIVE EVOLUTION: "I feel luck to be in cable TV, a business still young enough that it wrote its own rules and from the outset offered unique opportunities for women. At USA in particular, I am surrounded by an incredibly strong group of talented, versatile women at all levels of the company."
AT HOME, AT PLAY: "It's a priority for me to find time to spend with family and friends in and around New York City. I also hope to start training soon for my third New York Marathon. And given the amount of TV I watch in the course of business, I consider it a luxury to take the time to read a good book."
TITLE: Chief Technology Officer, Convergys
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: Before joining Convergys last July, Govern served as vice president of advanced technology development for Motorola's Global Telecom Solutions Sector. The billing software provider has gained good traction with its ICOMs multiple services billing product, landing contracts with Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications Inc. And it also claims the top spot for cable telephony billing services worldwide. But it also faces stiff competition, particularly from arch-rival CSG Systems Inc., as well as potential consolidation among back-office systems suppliers.
BEST OF 2002:
"Since joining Convergys, I've centered my efforts on listening to, learning from and meeting as many of our technical staff, internally, and, externally, our customers, as I can. I also formed a technology senior leadership team, meant to assist me in creating and realizing new 'Office of Technology' functions."
WHAT'S ON TAP:
"As CTO, my main focus is working to ensure Convergys' position as a technology leader and innovator that enables us to sustain our product and service differentiation. I plan to explore, shape, and leverage new technologies to drive Convergys client relationships by improving their competitive position, enhance our products and intellectual-property portfolio, and develop partnerships with key suppliers."
EXECUTIVE EVOLUTION: "I've never been one to second-guess the contributions that I, just because I'm a woman, can make to an organization. My focus has instead been on developing my business and technical expertise so that I can do what I most enjoy: use technology to solve real-world problems At the same time, I do think there is a larger role for women to play in the executive suite and a growing expectation that they will contribute at higher levels."
AT HOME, AT PLAY: "I have four brothers and a sister, so the thing that gives me an awful lot of joy and an opportunity to recharge outside of work is spending time with my nieces and nephews. I've always loved new gadgetry, so when I see young children quickly understand how to use new devices, it's fun to watch."
TITLE: President, AOL Broadband
WHY WE'RE WATCHING:
Wall Street and the media industry certainly are watching as America Online's fate remains uncertain. Can it be revitalized under CEO Jonathan Miller, or will it be spun off? Miller recently entrusted responsibilities for premium services to Hook, in addition to her role in spearheading initiatives to make AOL Broadband a growing part of members' online experience. With AOL placing more resources on growing its broadband business, backed by exclusive content offerings, Hook is on center stage.
BEST OF 2002: "Building a profitable wireless business. Organizing the voice-services group and leading the launch of AOL Call Alert last fall, which is paving the way for AOL Voicemail to roll out this spring. Also working on building a strong Broadband team."
WHAT'S ON TAP: "We're looking to continue to improve and increase awareness of the AOL Broadband experience, further differentiating AOL Broadband as a leading service that our members find enchanting. We'll also be rolling out AOL Broadband in AT&T/Comcast markets and becoming a good partner to other MSOs."
EXECUTIVE EVOLUTION: "With regard to AOL Time Warner, gender has not been an issue. I am fortunate to work with — and for — smart people who are gender-blind."
AT HOME, AT PLAY: "Playing Lego, skiing and collecting Yu-Gi-Oh cards with my son Nick."
TITLE: Vice President, Cable Affiliate Sales, EarthLink
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: The veteran affiliate executive for ABC Cable Networks Group jumped to EarthLink early in 2001, when the ISP initiated its relationship with Time Warner Cable. Parker played a key role in helping to launch EarthLink's high-speed Internet service to 20 of the MSO's markets last spring and summer. She is also responsible for managing the company's relationship with Charter Communications Inc. and AT&T Broadband (now Comcast Corp.).
BEST OF 2002: "We continued the momentum from 2001, successfully completing the launches of EarthLink's high-speed Internet service over Time Warner's cable-modem platform, as well as the first two AT&T Broadband markets."
WHAT'S ON TAP: "Signing additional cable MSO deals to launch EarthLink across their cable-modem platforms, continuing to grow our high-speed business and helping the company meet and exceed its strategic goals."
EXECUTIVE EVOLUTION: "One of the exciting aspects of working at EarthLink is my ability to have a great working relationship and direct link to the CEO and senior executive team. I'm fortunate to have this kind of relationship, but I realize that, despite the great strides we've made in the work place and in this industry, many women do not. I feel I have a responsibility to other women in my company to be a role model. If I'm successful, then perhaps I can help pave the way for other women."
AT HOME, AT PLAY: "I am expecting my first child at the end of April. That means big, exciting changes are coming for my husband and me! So spending my little free time traveling, going to the movies and playing tennis will soon be occupied by trying to emulate all the successful working mothers in our industry that I have long admired."
TITLE: Executive Vice President, General Manager, Cable News Network/U.S.
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: Ryan was elevated from Headline News last February and is responsible for CNN's news operations day-to-day. But with CNN losing the ratings race to Fox News Channel, pressure is building to regain its former Nielsen footing. And it is girding for coverage of a possible conflict in Iraq. Ryan will also be working with a new boss: CNN veteran Jim Walton.
BEST OF 2002: "We relaunched Headline News in August of 2001, and by early 2002 it was clear that we were meeting and exceeding all our goals. But If I had to name a single professional 'best' of 2002, it would be being asked to lead CNN/U.S. I think I have the best job in the world. Sure, it has long hours and can be extremely stressful, but it is also is exciting, relevant and engaging. "At home, I had a new role as well—being a mom. Simply put, my daughter is my life's greatest joy."
WHAT'S ON TAP: "I'm focused on building CNN's success as a news organization. It's a very clear mission: To continue to be the best television news organization in the world."
EXECUTIVE EVOLUTION: "We have many, many women in leadership positions around the news group, and we have some of the world's most-respected female journalists. I came to CNN 12 years ago, to produce environmental news and documentaries. I was mentored by both men and women here and was given every opportunity to succeed. Generally speaking, news is a great place for women because news is gender-blind."
AT HOME, AT PLAY: "When I'm not at work, I'm probably home changing diapers. I spend every spare moment with my daughter, who's 18 months old now. I'm not always perfect, and running CNN/U.S. is a big job, but my husband and I make quality time with her a priority-and I'm happy every moment of it."
TITLE: Senior Vice President, Marketing and Programming, Charter Communications Inc.
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: She joined Charter from Carlsen Resources International last April. With the MSO sustaining subscriber defections, the cable-industry veteran must draw on her experiences from years at Turner International Asia Pacific and Viacom Inc. to help stem the tide, while juggling initiatives promoting new services.
BEST OF 2002: "Last year, we started bringing together a variety of viewpoints and approaches from across the company and developing a single focus for our marketing efforts. We looked at the customer experience and how we can make the most of it. We focused on what's causing churn and what will boost retention. It's a work in progress, but we're getting there."
WHAT'S ON TAP:
"Internally, we have to continue working on getting our marketing focus 'in-sync' across the enterprise. Externally, we've got to do a better job of competing in the marketplace. As a company and as an industry, we continue to be viewed as technologically inferior to our competition, and we're not by any measure. Our messages have to be sharper and we need to stop letting ourselves get beat up by DBS, a product that obviously has its limitations."
EXECUTIVE EVOLUTION: "Charter is making a conscious, dedicated effort to improve the diversity among its executive ranks. Certainly, I'm an example of that, and so is [recently hired] COO Maggie Bellville. Hopefully, there will be others on the way."
AT WORK, AT PLAY: "And in Asia, I've built a great network of friends and associates around the world who I try to stay in contact with on a regular basis. I'm adjusting to having one child now in college and the other at home. If I'm not watching digital cable, it's a good bet I'm shopping or relaxing at a spa."
TITLE: President, ABC Family Channel
WHY WE'RE WATCHING: Approaching her first-year anniversary at the helm, Shapiro—applying enhanced repurposing models to ABC programming—helped lead the cable channel in primetime to a 14-percent rise to a 0.8 household average and a 16 percent increase among adults 18 to 49 during 2002. Now, it's time to gauge how she fares with original fare. My Life Is a Sitcom
bowed on Jan. 20, while another reality entry, The Last Resort, returned for a second run that night. The One, the first move greenlighted by Shapiro, hits ABC Family's air on Feb. 9.
THE BEST OF 2002: "I began the year as president of ABC Daytime and Buena Vista Productions, and in late March became president of ABC Family. I was responsible for ABC Daytime's ground-breaking multimillion-dollar deal with Revlon to integrate the brand into a daytime storyline, which ran from March through June. "For ABC Family, I developed and launched two new shows for the channel and redefined repurposing, providing added value for the viewers. I also developed a strategic plan for the channel that launched January 20 and includes a new primetime environment called 'the XYZ.' "
WHAT'S ON TAP: "For 2003 my main focus is to grow the audience for ABC Family without alienating our current viewers. We plan to develop strong signature shows and continue to evolve the environment to provide more added value for the viewers. We're very pleased that ABC Family achieved double-digit year-to-year growth across the board in households and total viewers, and look forward to that same success for 2003."
EXECUTIVE EVOLUTION: "I think there are a lot of opportunities today for smart women. The success of people like Carole Black and Gail Berman have helped make a difference. Having women in these positions also provides more opportunities and positive role models."
AT HOME, AT PLAY: "There's not much free time for me, but I spend the time I do have with the incredible man in my life as well as my close friends and family."
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