October 4, 2013
WICT Leadership Conference Preview - Thinking Outside the Cable Box
By Joyce Wang
With panels like “The Rockin' Women of Silicon Alley,” featuring New York’s tech scene and entrepreneurs, this year’s WICT Leadership Conference, which kicks off Monday, entails thinking outside the cable box and considering new business models and technologies, Maria Brennan, the group’s president and CEO told us.
“The mantra we are following is forecasting trends, fostering innovation and leading change…It’s about reading the tea leaves and thinking, what’s the next big opportunity? What’s the next consumer trend?” the chief exec said. For instance, the panel “Silicon Alley” is about “demystifying notions about technology,” according to Brennan. The session will feature a group of women “using technology as a core part of their business or as a core part of what drives their business,” she said, and includes execs from online career community Levo League, radio guide TuneIn, personalized shopping magazine Pickie and USA Network.
Some sessions are about “leaning in,” the now ubiquitous concept discussed in Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” published earlier this year. On Tuesday, there is a discussion with cable execs and Marianne Cooper, lead researcher of the book, intended to advise female cable professionals how to seize opportunities when they come and how to make opportunities when they don’t, Brennan said. This is especially important in light of the latest PAR survey results. (Find out why in our Monday issue of CableFAX Daily, going out Sunday night
.) The results of the survey also will be discussed during a panel with top cable execs from Comcast, Telemundo Media, Travel Channel, Cox and Discovery Comm, after NCTA head Michael Powell offers opening remarks. With many groups that cover different facets of the cable business in attendance, the conference’s mission is to “bring better opportunities to educate and train women and people of color… so we are creating a pipeline of talent ready to lead,” said Brennan.
Yet despite some of the conference’s seemingly non-cable specific topics, the cable crowd will be there. One cable-focused panel features MSOs’ and programmers’ main negotiators (and moderated by our own Amy Maclean), and will shed light on the dynamics and tactics at play in high-stakes deal talks. They will also share their takes on how relationships play into negotiations and how they help—or hinder—the deal-making process. The main session of the 2-day event will end with “Pearls of Wisdom,” which enters its third year. The usually fast-paced session is a sneak peek into some of the work, ideas and sometimes crazy inspirations of the industry’s top cable execs—and perhaps some tips for thinking outside the cable box.