When it comes to career development for women in the television industry, females executives gave advice and revealed their secrets to a successful career.
Jenny Alonzo, CEO, Konation Media; Vicky Free, EVP and CMO, BET Networks, a Viacom Company; Susanne McAvoy, EVP, marketing, creative and communications, Crown Media; and Kim Rosenblum, EVP, marketing and creative, Nickelodeon/Nick@Nite/TV Land spoke during the Women in Cable Communications New York (WICT) sponsored session “Beyond ‘Creative’: Strategy, Vision & Leadership” at PromaxBDA: The Conference 2016. The session was moderated by Stacie Gray, Chief Creative Officer at iNDEMAND.
On leading a team
When it comes to transitioning from being a ‘doer’ to someone who takes on a leadership role, it’s important to hiring the best team, the women said.
“It’s all about having people that you really trust and that are loyal, and letting them do their jobs,” McAvoy said. “My goal for them is they feel empowered to do the best they can.”
Rosenblum also suggested backing off on the tasks themselves so that you don’t micromanage.
“If you’re going to lead a team and be responsible for decisions, you need to let go,” she said.
And then there’s the benefit of knowing what you don’t know.
“You have got to get comfortable with fear, and you also have to get comfortable with not having all the answers,” Free said.
“When they do make mistakes … when those hiccups happen, you support,” Alonzo said. “It’s like I tell my kids. The past is like your ass. It’s behind you … That’s an important thing as a leaders. At the end of the day, a great leader lets their team learn.”
The success of the people she has led is also a way that she measures her own success.
“People on my team who are now leaders at other networks show they were at a place that allowed them to get to that next level,” she said. “The one constant is being able to look at all the folks I worked with that made me look good, and now they’re shining.”
On work/life balance
“It’s a choice,” McAvoy said. “You decide when to work and you decide when to spend time with your friends and family. And you really have to work at it and be an example for your team.”
That means not doing things like sending out emails when you’re on vacation, so that your team doesn’t feel like they should be emailing while on vacation.
“We have to completely reframe this idea of balance, and we can take some cues from men,” Free said. “Because they’re not struggling with balance.”
Men often don’t apologize or even ask permission to leave work early—they just go, she said.
McAvoy quoted a saying from her father.
“Nobody ever sat on their deathbed wishing they spent more time in the office,” she said.
“I don’t think there is such a thing as work-life balance,” Alonzo said. “Whoever created that notion is a horrible sadist and masochist.”
When it comes to female employees who need to leave early or come in late, as long as they understand the work they have to accomplish and deliver on it, it shouldn’t matter when they come and go—or why.
“You don’t have to lie and say ‘I’m leaving to go pick up my kid,’” Alonzo said. “No! I’m leaving because I want a pedicure.”
“The balance issue, by the way, applies to single women with no kids,” Free said. “I’ve got shit to do too.”
On being involved with boards and committees
“It helps you be a better leader,” McAvoy said. “Having access to other thought leaders makes being on those boards more valuable because you get their understanding and perspectives.”
“Your involvement in those organizations are not just great networking opportunities, but it’s about building relationships,” Alonzo said. “Don’t underestimate every person who comes by you every single day. You’re going to need some of those relationships when you get out there and they will make or break you. They will open doors in places you can’t even imagine.”
[Photo courtesy of Image Group LA]