Wonder Women 2020: Jennifer Koester

Director of Telco & Video Distribution Partnerships, Google
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Colleagues and clients say that Jennifer Koester, director of telco & video distribution partnerships at Google, gets things done.

Kristin Dolan, former chief operating officer of Cablevision Systems, recalled when Koester was an attorney at Cablevision, working on early advanced ad products, including addressable advertising.

Jennifer Koester

Jennifer Koester

“She’s super-smart and she’s very confident,” Dolan said. “She’s really good at getting people to understand what you’re trying to do and buy in.”

Before Koester joined the cable company, Cablevision had been a client of the law firm where Koester worked. She’d initially been interested in fashion and design, but what she called her “practical side” kicked in, and she went to law school. That and an inability to draw.

At the firm, she was at the intersection of technology and law, writing some of the first online privacy policies and the first advertising guidelines for Google.

She decided to move to Cablevision. At first, she focused on programming deals, but moved on to advertising. “I took a pivot in my career and left the legal side of things and went to the business side,” Koester said. “It was probably one of the best decisions I made in my career and it has paid off in spades.”

“Because of her understanding of the space and the products we were selling, she really helped move that business forward,” said Dolan, who said she’d like to lure Koester to her current business, the measurement and analytics company 605.

“I always thought, and I still do, she was a very effective and pragmatic, get-it-done lawyer,” said Spectrum Reach president David Kline, formerly president of Cablevision Media Sales.

When Kline moved on to VisibleWorld, he was one of Koester’s vendors. Now, at Spectrum Reach, he’s a client. “She comes back constantly with creative ideas and ways we can work together,” Kline said.

“She takes things as a challenge when she hears ‘no,’ ” said Kline. “Like any good sales person, when the customer says no, that’s when the real sales start. Right now, we’re working with her on a project that could bear fruit, and it’s because of her persistence over the years.”

Koester said she’s a believer in treating everyone with respect even during tough negotiations. That included when, while still at Cablevision, she was negotiating with Google for digital ad technology. “My negotiations with Google were really difficult because this was a first of a kind deal,” she recalled. “Those negotiations turned out essentially to be the first round of interviews, because not so long after that, they recruited me.”

Koester’s knowledge of the telecommunications industry made her attractive to Google, said Bonita Stewart, VP of global partnerships.

“Her experience from a legal and regulatory perspective made her appealing to us, combined with her customer relationship skills,” Stewart said. In terms of technology, “she’s been here only four years, but you wouldn’t know it in terms of her fluency with our products.”

Koester is in charge of Google’s cable and telecom vertical, working with clients including T-Mobile, Roku, Dish Network, Verizon Communications, AT&T and Comcast.

“She has such an intuitive view of the industry. I mean she is always several steps ahead,” Stewart said. “She’s a self-starter and a self-learner. But most importantly she has the ability to just get things done.”

Koester sees her role as helping the industry navigate a technological transition with products that enable addressable TV and other revenue generators. “One of the most exciting parts of my job is Google has made a decision to invest in the future of TV,” she said.

Koester has also taken a role in promoting and mentoring women at Google in the technology business. She serves on Google’s global hiring committee. “She is leading from the front in terms of now being firmly entrenched in a technology company and makes sure there are a number of women that are behind her and on her team doing different things,” said Stewart.

“She’s very focused on mentorship and bringing other women up along with her,” adds Dolan. “She always takes the opportunity to look for people to mentor. She really helps bring them along, male and female, but she definitely does a lot to help further the women in the industry particularly now that she’s an ad tech and tech overall.”

Koester said she’s been fortunate to have worked for some very powerful, influential and successful women during her career, including Dolan and Stewart.

“I have never seen anything as powerful as the network of women at Google,” she said, with initiatives and programs designed to invest in the company’s female talent and talent in all under-represented groups. She also formed a relationship between Google and Women in Cable & Telecommunications.

Mentorship a Priority

“As a leader, I think you have to be committed to lift your team and mentorship is clearly a part of that,” she said. “There’s a couple of women that aren’t on my team that come to me. I think receiving candid feedback helps people develop and in giving them stretch opportunities that provide that organizational impact and visibility.”

Outside of work, Koester said she focuses on her family, with her and her husband supporting their son, a freshman pitcher at George Washington, and their daughter, who plays volleyball. Sports helps the kids learn team dynamics, leadership and dealing with defeat, “all skills that will truly benefit them when they enter the workforce and life in general,” she said, adding that as a kid she was in the math league.

Current interests include gardening, cooking, skiing and decorating. “One of my little hobbies is putting some eclectic things together and kind of redecorating every couple of months,” she said.

Career Highlights: Joined Google in 2016 to lead the Telco and Video Distributor vertical for Google's Global Partnerships, working with clients including T-Mobile, Roku, Dish, Verizon, AT&T and Comcast.

Was recruited from Cablevision Systems after leading affiliate negotiations with Google.

Spent 11 years at Cablevision, developing linear TV, VOD, digital and data products to generate growth opportunities for the company’s advertising sales force.

Started at Cablevision as an attorney after working as an associate at three different law firms.

Quotable: “One of the most exciting parts of my job is Google has made a decision to invest in the future of TV.”

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