A dozen top female executives in cable, programming and technology shared life and career lessons at a luncheon with more than 900 attendees Tuesday (March 15), marking the 11th annual Multichannel News "Wonder Women" celebration.
At the New York Hilton event, co-sponsored by the New York chapter of Women in Cable Telecommunications, the honorees followed tradition by thanking mentors, bosses, parents and spouses.
They also gave advice to their peers based on what they'd learned, and on occasion put in a plug for promoting women on the job.
"What's especially gratifying about events like this is you get to see first hand why opportunities for women matter so much," Maria Brennan, CEO of the WICT national organization, said in her introduction to the event, which included guest presenters Natalie Morales of NBC's Today, CNN correspondent Candy Crowley and Susie Essman of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm.
As for the Wonder Women, Grace Killelea, senior vice president of talent & leadership initiatives at Comcast, in her speech praised mentoring -- and praised thanking mentors.
"Besides being good at what you do, think about the good that you do," she said. "Think about how you show up as a leader. There's a wonderful expression that says an encouragement at the time of failure is a hundred times more powerful than an accolade at times of success. When you're able to look somebody in the eye and say, 'I know there's more, I believe in you,' you are that person's superhero."
She encouraged male executives in the audience, at the rank of VP and above, to find a bright rising female star in the organization and set a goal of having her be on the Wonder Women dais in five years.
Another honoree, HSN CEO Mindy Grossman, observed that "as much as we're honoring amazing women today, why are only 15% of corporate officers, and only 2.5% of the Fortune 1000, women? And why does it still feel that we have a ways to go until we have more diversity in the workplace? And why are many women never given the opportunity or support to follow their dreams like I was able to 33 years ago?" (At age 19, she quit college in her senior year to head to New York, seeking a job in media or fashion.)
Grossman said she feels "women who've achieved success must take personal responsibility for mentoring and developing other women."
Kimberly Edmunds, senior VP of customer operations at Cox Communications, said one early boss told her, memorably, to "never confuse activity with accomplishment."
She also said Maggie Bellville, a mentor at Cox in years past, taught her the importance of perspective. "I still quote her today," she said. "Kimberly, sometimes you have to come from a point of view to a viewing point."
Lori Conkling, the EVP of national accounts, field sales and Canada at A&E Television Networks, said a male mentor early on told her: "This is the one piece of advice you're going to need in your career, and that is: Never be afraid to lose your job. He said that once you operate from a place of fear, you won't be able to take the risks and the chances you need to take to maxim growth and value for your company. It is some of the best advice I ever got, and he was right."
Other women honored as Wonder Women at the event were:
Jodi Brenner, SVP of business and legal affairs, TV networks distribution, at NBC Universal; Stephanie Gibbons, EVP of marketing and on-air promotion at FX Networks; Jadz Janucik, the SVP of association affairs at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association; Michelle Kim, the group VP and general counsel, programming, at Time Warner Cable; Christina Miller, who has the dual job of SVP at Turner Sports Strategy/Marketing/Programming and Cartoon Network Enterprises; Stephanie Mitchko, VP of interactive platform development at Cablevision Systems; Lisa Schwartz, EVP of distribution, operations and business development at IFC Entertainment;and Diane Tryneski, SVP of media and production operations at Home Box Office.
They, and 12 women credited as "Women to Watch," were profiled in the Feb. 7 edition of Multichannel News.
The 2011 Wonder Women speeches will be available in video form on Multichannel.com on Wednesday, March 23.