October 7, 2013
WICT’s Women in Tech
By Kaylee Hultgren
Several women leaders of NYC's “Silicon Alley” and top technologists in the cable industry offered up nuggets of advice for women in tech at WICT’s annual Leadership Conference in NYC Monday. Kay Koplovitz, founder, USA Network and chairman & CEO, Koplovitz & Company, told the crowd that to stay afloat today you need multiple revenue streams—not just 2 or 3, but even 4. And mobile is where the next new networks will be, she predicted, citing Twitter’s IPO announcement and Facebook now making 43% of its advertising revenue on mobile. But Kristin George, vp, product, Tunein, whose company lives in the mobile space, added that it’s “not a mature marketplace at all," and her team struggles at getting mobile revenue to equal to what she sees on the web.
Today’s conference certainly featured top female techies. But why aren’t there more of them out there? According to George, it’s a pipeline issue. The difficult part is, “how do we get women into the technology track in general?” she said. “We need more women in STEM,” said Koplovitz, but she noted that to actually lead tech companies, you don’t necessarily have to be the one who creates the technology. “You don’t have to be a coder yourself to do it,” she said.
But for Sonia Nagar, co-founder & CEO, Pickle, being a programmer certainly helped. For her, getting ahead entailed “finding my own voice, being authentic and not being afraid to take risks.” Tiffany Dufu, chief leadership officer at Levo League also characterized fewer women in tech roles as a pipeline issue. However, she said there’s a business case and rationale for having women in leadership positions. That being said, it’s still important to “prioritize diversity.” Koplovitz recommended that women leaders explore the opportunities to serve on boards for smaller companies—not just Fortune 500 ones. There’s “no lack of people in the pipeline” in that case, she said. “We need to throw a spotlight on those opportunities.”
In a later panel, we learned that it’s technology creating the trends, not trends creating the technology, according to Donna Speciale, pres Turner Entertainment & Young Adult Ad Sales. And given the speed at which technology is moving, “all our companies need to be agile. We need to put fluidity into everything we’re doing.” Part of that requires retraining teams with new skill sets. Sandy Howe, svp, market development, ARRIS said her company is using an incubation-like approach. “We’re interviewing for some very specific technology roles,” so that the learning of these new skills will happen collaboratively.
Julie Laulis, COO, Cable One said that in some ways her company is spending more money on retraining staff, but on the other hand, self-help tools are helping reduce those costs. The question becomes, “how fast do we adapt,” said Marc Aldrich Area vp, U.S. Cable Segment, Cisco Systems, Inc. “I see so much velocity in our organization,” said Howe. For instance, DOCSIS 3.0 standards took 2. 5 years to put together, and yet the company just worked on a spec for DOSCIS 3.1 that took just 18 months. “But not that that’s fast enough for where we’re going!” To keep up with the velocity, trials and betas are key, she said. Particularly with cloud technologies, you can take a risk with trials. She also suggested trying out new devices with your own team and also close customers.