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October 12, 2011


WICT Leadership Conference 2011

by WICT Mentoring Blog

Patreece DeChabert, October 12, 2011

It’s been a week and the excitement is still resonating!

The Women in Cable Telecommunications Leadership Conference was held on October 3rd and 4th in New York. This year’s theme was Innovations in Leadership and they certainly delivered on that, a belly full! The conference began with a powerful appetizer of a band ensemble which set the tone for the energized sessions that followed.

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” gave the keynote presentation. Mika provided copies of her latest book “Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth”. She talked about opportunities that she may have had early in her career with MSNBC to negotiate a better salary such as when she was hired or when ratings increased. She had missed those windows of opportunity. It was not until later that she realized what she brought to the table.

Mika and Joe role played scenarios in which they portrayed ways that women may ask for a raise or promotion. They took us though the wrong ways and the right way; the ways that yield little to no result and the way that works; the passive way and the assertive way; the “woman’s” way and the “man’s” way. Mika shared details of her story: her struggles and her successes.

By the end of their presentation, I realized three things:

  1. It is absolutely imperative to do the research, compare the stats, and know how you bring value to the organization.
  2. Realize that you should not feel just grateful but know that you have something to offer and that you’ve earned it!
  3. Don’t let emotions get in the way of the bottom line, business. Be innovative in your delivery and be confident.

This year’s big success stories were the Women to Watch: Jennifer Dorian, SVP, Strategy Development at Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc., Kathleen Finch, SVP/GM at HGTV, and the Woman of the Year Nomi Bergman, President at Bright House Networks. They shared their triumphs and we shared in their deserving moment.

Pictured here is Nomi Bergman, WICT Woman of the Year, and her colleagues from Bright House Networks.

For the rest of the day we were allowed to feast a la carte on the various concurrent sessions which were based on specific tracks: Cable Fundamentals, the Strategic Leadership, and Career Savvy. I attended the Strategic Leadership and Career Savvy tracks. The stories that these women leaders shared were very personal and they provided real advice. There was a lot of food for thought:

  • Being decisive and timely is more important than being perfect.
  • Be an evangelist for education, be a champion for something.
  • Find it, share it, and repeat it!
  • Strategy is great, but where we can fall off is in the execution.
  • Although we work in the cable industry, some may not have creative roles, but there is creativity in the approach. Discover your client’s need and find creative ways to solve.
  • Men out of grad school with an MBA and a mentor or sponsor are 93% likely to land a managerial role, while for women, it is only 57% likely; also these men make over $9,000 more than these women.
  • A Coach talks to you, a Mentor talks with you, and a Sponsor talks about you (champions for you)!
  • Sponsorship is about trust – taking a risk on the protégée’s performance, honesty – openness about wants, communication – with both parties, and commitment – do your best at all times.
  • Discover and use your core strengths more.
  • Curiosity and love of learning–put them to work!
  • Learn to pause in the moment, take a step back, and breathe. Learn to have compassion for people and you may have the ability to turn conversations around in order to reset the mindset.
  • At least every 90 minutes, take 3 minutes to refresh yourself.
  • Build a fantastic team & take risks.
  • Decide what your brand is – know who you are.
  • Find a way to be visible/present; out of sight, out of mind.
  • Each time you communicate with someone, you have an opportunity to make an impression. Every interaction, email, etc. is your networking opportunity.

Rabia De Lande Long, a Managing Director at Chartwell Advisors, Inc. coined a great new meaning for WICT:

Work – your job and your company; work beyond your desk.

Initiative – take initiative, not waiting for things to happen.

Confidence – you are in your job because you know what you are doing; project it, act as if you have it all together, you have the right idea, and you are the person you want to be.

Time – am I doing the things I value? Are you working in your personal prime time? Do regular calendar assessments.

That was just day one! On day two, we were treated to Ursula Burns, Chairman & CEO of XEROX. There are only 16 female CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies. Ursula is one of them and one of Forbes’ top 20 most powerful women in the world (not the country, but yes the world)!

Now for dessert–with the icing on the cake. Here’s what Ursula shared:

  1. There is no substitution for hard work. Be good at what you do even if you don’t like it.
  2. If you learn (everything there is to know about) a job, leave it immediately.
  3. Be open to change. In change there is uncertainty; use it as a lever to drive significant improvement.
  4. Think hard about the positions you turn down and about being “too big” for the job.
  5. Have FUN! You spend up to 10 hrs a day at work and go home to have fun (but you should be having fun at work). If it’s not mentally engaging, you won’t have fun or do it well.
  6. Be who you are. Stay true to who you are.
  7. It’s okay and even desirable to be impatient.

In short, it was an absolutely amazing experience!

Patreece DeChabert is with Turner and an active member of WICT Southeast’s Golf and Tennis Tournament, Red Letter Awards, Mentoring Blog, and Mentoring Committee.  WICT Southeast offers mentoring programs for industry members and college students and has won the WICT National “Excellence in Mentoring” Award for the past three years.

Read more from Leadership
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lillie
    Oct 13 2011

    Patreece, Great summary of some of the key lessons from the conference! You’re right — it was a feast of leadership lessons!


  2. Nov 4 2011

    It’s really good that you had such a great opportunity! Do you know of any such conferences for women in public relations and marketing?



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