Vicki Lins is holding down just one job these days, but she may be busier than ever. Her Focus: Helping Canoe Ventures define its business and brand, while bringing the industry together to produce interactive advertising Standards.
Until the end of last year, Lins not only had her gig as chief marketing officer of Canoe, she also served as senior vice president of marketing and communications for Comcast Spotlight.
“I don’t feel like I really left Comcast even though I turned in my badge at the end of the year,” Lins said. “I still get to work with many of the same people I have been lucky to work with in the past. I feel like I am at the same party with all the same people. I just have come in a different door. We’re all still partners and I now get to work with all the operators and programmers in the industry. We’re all in this together and it’s all very exciting, challenging and invigorating.”
Lins never expected to stay in the cable industry when she left a job in the telecommunications industry for Adlink, the Los Angeles advertising interconnect. “But I have never looked back,” she said. “It’s been a great industry to work in and I feel blessed that I am able to expand my career with something totally new and I still get to stay in the industry.”
At Comcast Spotlight, Lins oversaw marketing, including brand strategy, advertising, public relations, promotions and creative services. She also ensured consistency in the company’s message by leading a vertical marketing initiative between corporate staff and the sales force. Her new job at Canoe will be similar but on a grander scale. As in her old job, she is the lone woman in the room of top executives, yet she remains undaunted.
“I love what I do,” Lins said. “To be effective and successful, you have to have passion. I keep doing what I am doing because I have a passion for it. And I try to share that passion with others. I’ve always been a big advocate for women inside and outside Comcast. Men are good at helping other men by coaching and counseling them and creating opportunities. Women haven’t always been that good at that, and I think we can all help each other.”
Not surprisingly, she has been recognized as one of the industry’s leading executives. Women In Cable Telecommunications named Lins a Woman to Watch in 2008 (along with fellow 2009 Wonder Woman Eileen O’Neill, president and general manager of TLC) and now she joins Multichannel News’s Wonder Women.
Lins is honored to be singled out, but stresses the value of team work. “I feel like I am the lucky one that gets to stand up and take a bow,” she said, “but this is really about the group effort...It’s about what the industry has done and is doing together.”
WICT CEO Benita Fitzgerald Mosley said Lins “has succeeded in an environment that has long been dominated by men” because she celebrates her differences and uses her voice rather than shrink to fit in. There are definite differences when it comes to working with men vs. women, Lins said. Men often have a different language than women when it comes to business, she added.
“Some would say that is unfair,” she said. “I would argue that you’re just talking to a different audience. For instance, when I am making a sales presentation, I may use different terms and put emphasis on different things than I would if I were speaking to my staff or my friends or my family. You have to be savvy about it and I haven’t let being a woman get in my way — not by me or anyone else.”
Lins has been actively involved in organizations including WICT and is a graduate of the Betsy Magness Institute. And her bosses can’t say enough about her skills and talent.
“Vicki has been the premier marketing and branding expert in spot cable for the past decade,” said Comcast Spotlight president Charlie Thurston. “Her contributions to Adlink, Comcast Spotlight, and Canoe Ventures have been outstanding.”
Around the time when her new role at Canoe was announced, Canoe Ventures CEO David Verklin remarked, “She already has played an important role in the launch of Canoe Ventures, and I look forward to working with her in the future to change the way America uses and watches television.”
Lins, who characterized Verklin’s energetic workstyle as being like “putting gas on a fire,” is excited about the challenges ahead. But she and her crew at Canoe have their work cut out for them.
In addition to serving as a broker of services and amalgamator of standards for selling interactive ads, there are plenty of misconceptions Canoe has to clear up, she noted. For instance, it will not have a sales force that will sell ad space.
At the same time, she is working hard to improve things for cable’s female workforce.
“It really doesn’t ever get any easier,” she said. “Being a woman in business matters as much today as it did when I was 22 years old and getting out of college. We are catching up. We just have to be diligent.”
Lins has long fought for pay equity for women and has mentored other women, although she said she’s never had a formal mentor in her career.
“I’ve learned a lot from the people I have worked for though and I am a good watcher,” she said. “I’ve been in this business for a long time, but I’m just getting started.”
[Portions of the above profile appeared in a Nov. 17, 2008, special report on the WICT Accolades honorees.]