For all her hard work in the marketing, programming and ad-sales fields as Insight Communications Co.'s senior vice president of marketing and programming, you might not know that Pam Euler Halling still has dreams about being a professional piano player.
"Of course, I'd have to go back to studying. But who knows?" she said. "You should never give up … I just found it was not the best career choice."
Instead, she took her degree in fine arts, leveraged it with a master's degree in business, and found a fun, productive and creative outlet in the cable industry.
The 26-year veteran didn't know how "incredible" her career would be when she accepted a cable job in her native Ohio, with Continental Cablevision Inc. in Findlay.
"I didn't know the implications," she said. "I look now and realize how fortuitous it was.
"You'd walk down the hall and bump into an Amos Hostetter or a Ray Joslin," she recalled, naming the company's chairman and the head of its California operations, respectively.
"We were selling a product everyone wanted," Halling said. "It was a marketer's dream."
Her career has taken her from coast to coast. Until she started her current job at Insight, Halling took on a new challenge about every three or four years.
She left Findlay and Continental to sign on for a stint as division marketing manager for Cox Communications Inc. in San Diego. Next, she crossed the country again to work as affiliate marketing manager for Cablevision Systems Corp.'s Rainbow Programming Services in Long Island, N.Y., before returning to California to work as director of consumer marketing for Disney Channel.
"Growing up with the industry, there were lots of opportunities for people like me at start-ups," she said. But it was hard on daughter Christine Dimmick, who had a life "close to that of a [military] service brat," Halling noted.
"But each time, there was an improvement in lifestyle," she added. "I have no regrets."
Though she loves California, she took another New York job with Insight in 1988, and appears to have settled down.
Since joining Insight, Halling has been instrumental in the development and rollout of the company's digital strategy, which involves two-way interactive TV services and video-on-demand, according to the company. She was also actively involved with the company's U.K. operations, which were eventually sold to NTL Inc., now Britain's largest cable operator, in 1993.
Halling, 55, stresses that she's been inspired by wonder women in her own life, starting with her mother. She grew to appreciate her mother's strength and courage in raising four children as Halling worked to raise one daughter while continuing an active career as a cable executive.
Other key executives are among the friends along the way who "helped me when I was ready to give up," Euler Halling said. She easily rattled off a raft of influences: former Disney Channel and SportsChannel Los Angeles executive
Lynn (Woodard) Blair, G4 COO Deb Green, cable marketer Jerry Maglio, Independent Film Channel president Kathy Dore, AMC Networks president Kate McEnroe, and Insight Communications Co. COO Kim Kelly, with whom Halling has worked for 10 years.
"Women can have a business relationship and have a friendship at the same time that is very meaningful," she said. "They are not mutually exclusive."
Starz Encore Group distribution chief Que Spaulding has also been a strong influence.
"He's a terrific mentor and friend, always able to very clearly point something out," she said. "He's intelligent, hard working and can do anything. His attitude has been truly inspiring to me."
The friendships she's made — and the range of opportunities she's had — have served as the glue that has bound Halling to the industry.
"At one point, I thought I'd like working for an ad agency, but I realized I'm best suited for a broad range of responsibilities," she said. "Focusing on one product is not in my best interest," she said. "It's very difficult, once you're in the industry, to leave."
Despite her many achievements in the working world, Halling said her proudest accomplishment is her daughter, Christine, who coped with the childhood moves and has grown into a successful entrepreneur in New York.
Christine created The Good Home Co., selling custom bath products and other luxuries.
"She's the real wonder woman," Halling said proudly.
On the professional side, she's most proud — given the professional and ethical failures in the business world in 2002 — that she works with people of high integrity.
Asked what advice she'd give to someone just entering cable's fray, Halling recommended that such a newcomer stay grounded.
"Know many jobs and stay hands-on," she said. "The rise up the corporate ladder doesn't relieve you of the task of making coffee or making your own copies.
"Show people you are willing to do their jobs and it will be real rewarding. You can't respect someone until you've been there.
"Always have respect for the people above and below you," she said.
And, as Winston Churchill said, never, never, never give up — especially on your dreams.
"I'd still like to play Carnegie Hall. Uh-oh, I've mentioned that twice now. I guess I'll have to do it," she laughed.