Leadership Interview: Shannon Driver
by Valerie Carrillo
Shannon Driver of Scripps Networks Interactive shares her journey and career advice for other women.
What is your name?
Where do you currently work?
Scripps Networks Interactive
What is your current role?
Senior Vice President of Network Marketing and Creative Services
Where are you currently located?
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is by Robert Frost. He said he could sum up everything he learned about life in three words: “It goes on.” For me, this resonates so much in both life and work. It is just simple and clean. I repeat it often to myself.
Share three personal facts so our readers get to know you
- I love to cook. It’s a stress reliever for me.
- I am married, with no children, but I have an 8-pound dog, named Jake. He is a little puff, who is like having five children. Not really.
- I went to school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but never intended to stay here. In fact, I moved to New York right after college to pursue a career in entertainment. People are always surprised to hear that I have not always lived in Knoxville. Fact is I grew up in Memphis.
Describe your journey to your current position
After school, I moved to New York and started working at a major post house. From there, I was hired by a client who owned a small production company that focused on political advertising and doing upfront tapes for CBS networks. I worked for this company for almost five years when we were bought by a large PR firm. One day, I randomly got a call from Scripps Networks about interviewing for a position. I took the interview, which was in New York, and the person told me, “You know this job is in Knoxville?” I actually took the job and moved 14 days later. It was insane. I have now been with the company for twelve years and have had seven roles, including my current position. It’s been a really, really great ride. I have worked in a lot of different areas of our business- from ad sales, licensing, creative, to overseeing marketing at DIY and media strategy. It’s been an interesting path because all the jobs that I have done (both prior to Scripps and while at Scripps) have prepared me to do my current position.
What was the biggest obstacle you have faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
I would say my single biggest challenge is negotiating on behalf of yourself, which is hard. I don’t know if I would say it’s an obstacle, but it is a challenge. You have to be able to determine your voice. Are you willing to put a value on your work and your contribution? And are you willing to ask for those things? You don’t get what you don’t ask for. The more you do it, the better you become. It’s important to have a conversation and be able to moderate what it is that you want; what do you need to make you feel fulfilled in your role; and know what your walkaway point is. If you can’t come to an agreement, you better be prepared to walk away and be ok with it.
How do you find joy and pleasure in your role? How do you encourage others on your team to share in this?
As my role has evolved and I have risen through the ranks, the weight has shifted from the tactical work to more leadership and development for the next crop of leaders. One of the biggest things that I am focused on and get the most joy out of is developing my team and watching them grow, be successful and rise to new roles. There were a lot of people throughout my career who spent a lot of time mentoring me and giving me guidance, feedback and helping me mature to the next step. Truly, the biggest satisfaction is seeing someone that you know is a superstar and allow them to grow into the next level of their career. I hope that by doing that for my team leaders that they do it for their teams. It’s kind of like the cycle of life. It’s how the business continues to grow and becomes more successful. Everyone wins.
What is the best career advice for an emerging female leader?
There is a lot of conversation around women in the workplace, but what I have found to be successful for myself is that I am who I am. I am not afraid to have an opinion and I’m not afraid to say no. I think ‘no’ is a really, really powerful word. You’ve got to be able to find your voice.
Our theme this year is “Know Yourself.” In what ways do you find that “knowing yourself” has helped you in your career? How would you advise other leaders to incorporate these lessons into their approach?
One of the things that I have come to recognize is I do have a strong voice. And what I have found is that if I am going to meetings with some of my direct reports or my team members, we would get into situations where they weren’t speaking up or running the meetings. So recognizing that about myself, I told some of my team that I was going to stop going to meetings. They were so skilled and so good at what they do, but when I’m in the room, they defer. I didn’t need to be in the room. You have to know yourself well enough and be willing to make the changes to ensure your team has opportunity. That’s not to say I wouldn’t go to meetings. I just stop going to certain meetings so that my team members have the opportunity to grow their own skill set. Since I have shared that about myself, I have seen leaders on my team do the same. The more self-aware you are, the better you grow and the better you give other people the opportunity to grow.