After 23 years at Time Warner Cable in its various iterations, Carol Hevey is back where she wants to be — in the field. Hevey, executive vice president of operations for Time Warner Cable’s Carolinas region, got a taste of field operations early in her career. And save for a two-year stint at the operator’s corporate offices in Stamford, Conn., where she was executive vice president of the Milwaukee and Ohio regions, she has spent most of her career in the thick of things.
Not that she didn’t enjoy her time at headquarters — she was involved in mapping out strategic issues — but when Time Warner Cable chairman Glenn Britt restructured the senior management operation last year to place more executive vice presidents in the field, Hevey jumped at the chance. Today, her system, located in Charlotte, serves about 1.7 million subscribers in North and South Carolina.
Hevey has steadily moved up the ranks since joining the then Warner-Amex Cable National Division operations in Columbus, Ohio, as a secretary in 1982. After three years in Columbus — where she became a staff accountant after three months — Hevey was ready for a change.
“You really didn’t have customer-facing kinds of experience available. We were a back-office for all of our cable systems that we helped to manage,” Hevey says. “I recognized after a couple of years that what the business is all about is the customer and providing products and services that our customers can use and value and taking care of their needs. I wanted to get out to a cable system.”
Hevey started as a supervisor at Warner-Amex’s Medford, Mass., system, moving to its Lynn, Mass., operation as a business office manager a few months later.
From there, Hevey became general manager in Nashua, N.H., where she was truly bitten by the operations bug, learning on the job how to run a small system — Nashua had 17,000 subscribers when she joined in 1986 (the year after Warner bought out American Express’s interest in the cable operations. Warner Communications merged with Time Inc. to form Time Warner in 1989) When she left in 1990, the system had 22,000 customers.
Her Nashua performance caught the eye of Terry O’Connell, who had just moved from corporate sales and marketing in Dublin, Ohio, to head up Time Warner’s Greater Boston market.
“I made a deal with Carol,” O’Connell says. “I didn’t know a thing about operations and I would love for her to join my team in that senior capacity. If she would teach me the operations side of the business, I would do everything in my power to have her ready to succeed me whenever I left the president’s job. One of the happiest days of my career was when I did leave Boston to go to Columbus, Carol was named president of the Greater Boston division.”
One of Hevey’s first charges there: overseeing the massive hybrid-fiber-coax upgrade in what was then the company’s most densely populated region.
O’Connell says Hevey had the largest operations role in that endeavor — and lavishes nothing but praise.
“Carol Hevey has a wonderful business sense about her — she has good instincts, she is passionate and cares deeply,” O’Connell says “That passion is about the front-line employee, the management team at large and the company. I think the combination of all of that is what makes Carol great.”
Hevey has worn several hats since leaving Boston in 1990 after the systems were sold to MediaOne Group Inc. Her first stop was Portland, Maine, where she helped the company roll out another new technology: voice-over-Internet protocol telephony. Hevey and team came up with the idea — a bold stroke at the time — to bundle local- and long-distance service at a fixed price.
As Portland grew into one of Time Warner’s most highly-penetrated phone markets (about 20% of eligible homes passed), Hevey moved to the Milwaukee division. Jim Fellhauer, then her boss and now the MSO’s executive vice president and chief customer care officer, had been batting around the idea for division presidents to develop a local video-on-demand product.
“Carol, in her normal fashion, did what she always does and didn’t turn it into a good idea, she turned it into a great idea,” Fellhauer says, noting that one of Hevey’s strengths is the ability to assemble the right people for a task. “She builds great teams and then does what most bosses have a hard time doing — she turns them loose.”
Hevey gave most of the credit for Wisconsin on Demand to vice president of community relations Beverly Greenberg, whom she asked to take the lead on the project with an eye toward low-cost content.
Hevey said that Wisconsin on Demand started out with graduation ceremonies, sports and other events at local high schools. Later it was able to secure product — at no cost — from the Wisconsin Dept. of Tourism and “Meet the Players” content from local professional sports teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee Brewers and Green Bay Packers. A local American Idol take off called the “Rockstar Project” also proved to be wildly popular with viewers.
Today, Wisconsin On Demand is the second most-watched VOD programming package in Wisconsin, behind only HBO On Demand
Although technology has been a big career focus, Hevey has no formal training in that discipline. A biology major at both Purdue University and the University of Pittsburgh (she left one semester short of her degree), she has always had a knack for math and science, and is a quick study.
“And I have certainly relied a lot on good engineers over the years,” she says.