Christie Hefner


Interview Date: October 2002
Interviewer: Steve Nelson
Collection: Hauser Collection

NELSON: Let’s get started by talking a little bit about when you were younger what was it that made you interested in going into business?

HEFNER: Well, actually when I was younger I wasn’t interested in going into business. I was interested in journalism and law and that was true all through college. When I graduated Brandeis I worked as a journalist, mostly because, I think, I didn’t want to go right on to law school, which is what I would have done to pursue a legal career at that point. I really never thought about business until my father first brought it up with me after I’d been out working as a journalist.

NELSON: And where were you a journalist?

HEFNER: In Boston. I worked for the Boston Phoenix and I freelanced. In fact, Janet Maslin was my film editor there and she went on to become the very distinguished film critic for the New York Times and we’ve remained friends.

NELSON: But you grew up in a household where, I have to say, your father will probably be ranked as one of the outstanding entrepreneurs of the 20th century and still going, but somehow that was not your direction.

HEFNER: Well, my parents divorced when I was very young, so I actually didn’t grow up with my father, and my stepfather, who I did grow up with, was an attorney. So I didn’t talk about business at night over the dinner table; we actually talked more about politics over the dinner table. My mother was a poll watcher and campaigned avidly for different candidates. I remember campaigning for candidates before I was old enough to vote, going door-to-door. My stepfather ran for some local offices. Plus I went to college in the early ’70s at a liberal, liberal arts university, and frankly it was much more of a time when young people were focused on the professions and not business. Business was, in the late ’60s/early ’70s kind of the establishment, in other words suspect. So during those times, I really hadn’t focused at all on business.

NELSON: But then you said that your father suggested that perhaps you’d want to get involved in the family business?

HEFNER: Yes, I’d worked for awhile as a journalist, and I thought that I probably would go to law school because I wanted the intellectual discipline that I envisioned the law would offer as well as being interested in a legal career – that could lead me into politics or take me into the judiciary – as a way to make a difference, which was always something that attracted me. At that point, I was out visiting my dad in LA because he had just recently bought the mansion there and I told him that I thought I was going to leave journalism and go to law school, and he surprised me by suggesting that maybe I would find it interesting, to move back to Chicago and come to work for Playboy. I thought he meant for the magazine, so I said that I didn’t think I wanted to stay in journalism and he said, “No, no, I mean for the business. Don’t you think it would be interesting to learn more about the company?” I said, “Well, I hadn’t really thought about it,” and he said, “I think you could be helpful to me.” He had moved recently to LA from Chicago and I think he felt having me there as kind of a liaison would be of benefit to him. So I moved back from Boston to Chicago really with the thought that I would stay for a couple of years and take advantage of the opportunity to learn and then move on.

NELSON: In what kind of capacity did you enter? I assume you weren’t working in the mailroom.

HEFNER: Well, actually, initially I had no job per se. My title was Special Assistant to the President and that allowed me to do project work. I remember my father early on asked me to look into whether or not the company should stay in the movie theater business, so I went around talking to people in the business. I went outside the company talking to people in the business, and I ultimately recommended that we not stay in the business, that it was very hard for an independent company with just a couple theaters to be successful. Meanwhile, I was learning about the company and management by walking around, learning everything from the subscription fulfillment business to finance. I also attended several graduate school seminars in different disciplines of business. Then the company got interested in the idea of opening a retail venture. A couple of distinguished retail execs had come to Playboy with the idea of combining the two areas of merchandise that young people spend the most money on, which are clothes and music, and we had some space in our office building which was right on Michigan Avenue at the time. Nobody knew anything about retailing in the company, since I knew nothing less than the next person, I was put in charge.

NELSON: That made you an expert, right?

HEFNER: That made me, at least within those boundaries, an expert. So I hired a staff, worked with the consultants, developed the business plan and opened the store, and it was a complete disaster. I went back to the consultants and I said, “Well, you said all these things would happen and they’re not happening.” I realized that if we were going to fix it we had to go beyond those guys, so I found out that there were various trade associations you could join to get comparable statistics, and I started calling other retail execs in Chicago, introducing myself and asking if I could take them to lunch in order to try to figure out things like how much shrinkage is the right amount, what do you do about it, how do you manage the merchandise. And ultimately we did turn the business around. In a funny way, in retrospect, it was a great experience for me because a store like that is really like a mini-business. You have all the issues you deal with when you’re running a larger business. You have your personnel issues and marketing issues and operational issues. So I learned from that. I ran marketing through our 25th anniversary. We did a lot of interesting things that year.

NELSON: What year was that?

HEFNER: That was 1979. We brought back the Playboy Jazz Festival, which had been done once as a fundraiser for the Urban League in 1959 in Chicago. We brought it back to the Hollywood Bowl and in spite of the pundits who said you that can’t fill the Hollywood Bowl for jazz, only pop music. We actually had a huge success and have been doing it every year since. We launched the Playboy Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards, which are given every year to outstanding individuals who, whether it’s in law or journalism or television or government, work to enhance freedom of expression. We toured our art collection and purchased some papers relating to the trial of John Peter Zanger and toured them around the country. We did essay contests for high school students about what does the First Amendment mean today, and a lot of really neat things. We had a roast of my father at Tavern on the Green and launched a journalism scholarship in his name at his alma mater. Next, I published some magazines called the Playboy Guides – the Playboy Guide to Electronic Entertainment, To Fashion and Style and To Wheels.

NELSON: And while you’re doing this, what is your position at the company at this point?

HEFNER: Well, I had different positions. I was head of the retail business. I was VP of marketing. I was publisher of the guides. I sort of moved around. At some point at the end of the ’70s I went on the board so I got to have a chance to see how decisions were made from that perspective, how capital was allocated, how strategies were set. Then in the early ’80s, the company started to face some serious financial difficulties because there was a change of government in England and a number of gaming licenses were cancelled or challenged, Playboy’s among them. Playboy was the only American company that had ever been licensed to have casinos in the U.K. and was kind of an easy target. The board and the senior executives decided that rather than fight what they felt would be a losing battle, they would be better off selling the business and getting the benefit of the sale of an ongoing operation. But, the casinos in the U.K. had been the single most profitable business in the company. So, overnight the company went from being highly profitable to being in a money losing position. I felt that the company had to make a number of changes fairly quickly to put itself back in financial health and went to Hef and the board and suggested that I become President, replace the person who had been President, and that we begin a restructuring. I think the board and Hef considered bringing a new person in, maybe having me work with the incumbent President, but ultimately they decided that the best course was to promote me. I formed an Office of the President with the then CFO and we set about turning around the company. The first things we did were the things you do when a company is in trouble. You sell the businesses that aren’t successful, you shut down things that you don’t think you can turn around, you reduce your overhead, you manage for cash, especially a company like ours which being family controlled could afford to have a low stock price for a period of time while we were concentrating on cash.

NELSON: What were some of the things that you shut down at that point, do you remember?

HEFNER: We sold the resorts, we closed the clubs, we sold the book division, we sold the modeling agency and the limousine company, we sold the record business…

NELSON: So the company’s really shrinking, shrinking, shrinking at this point.

HEFNER: Yes, we really shrunk back down to publishing and thought about where were the opportunities to expand from the core business of the magazine. That was really the time in which we made the critical decision to expand not by launching or buying other magazines, which is historically what publishing companies have done, but to take advantage of what was starting to happen with cable television and to extend the brand into television as opposed to leveraging our operating expertise in publishing.

NELSON: Was that something that you had determined was the direction to go? What was it about cable that attracted you at the time? This was early ’80s was the time period?

HEFNER: Well, the company had always – under Hef’s leadership – been interested in film and television. This was a company that in the late ’50s launched a television show– Playboy After Dark and Playboy’s Penthouse – which really were the earliest versions of sophisticated variety shows where you would intersperse an interview with Lenny Bruce, or the guy doing the documentary on Woodstock, with Nat King Cole singing, showing a clip and talking about it. Then, in the ’70s, the company got involved in actually producing some feature films – Roman Polanski’s “Macbeth” was the first. Playboy then distributed the first Monty Python movie in the U.S., and it produced some series and specials for television. So Playboy had a history of being interested in the electronic media that was unusual for a print company. But, in the same way as I’d concluded, it was difficult to be successful as a small movie theater owner I felt. It’s always difficult with a small capital base to be a successful film or network television producer because those are hit driven businesses with a high mortality rate and frankly those businesses aren’t much enhanced by a brand. I thought, and the company thought, that cable could be different for Playboy because in a multi-channel environment the chance to actually create branded networks that people would go to as destinations seemed to leverage Playboy’s opportunity in the electronic medium. And of course, fast-forwarding for a minute, that’s exactly what has happened, that cable created not just a new method of delivering television, but for the first time a platform on which true branded networks could be launched and thrive, whether that was Playboy Television or CNN or Court TV or MTV or Nickelodeon, so Playboy, having this brand asset, which we then married with creative and original programming, could create a world of Playboy through television.

NELSON: And what was the reaction? I suppose you went around and started talking to cable operators as people do when they launch networks. What was the reaction from some of the operators you talked to?

HEFNER: Well, we were very fortunate because one particular cable mogul was really convinced that there was room for a quality adult channel, and in fact had launched a channel called Escapade, and that person was Chuck Dolan. Chuck really believed in the idea and thought it would be vastly enhanced through the power of Playboy and Playboy’s ability to lend its brand and create content. And so the original Playboy Channel was actually a joint venture between Cablevision/Rainbow and Playboy. So we were hugely helped by having a godfather like Chuck, who not only obviously had distribution through their own systems, particularly in an important market like New York. We obtained great support from that early group of really hugely successful and influential cable entrepreneurs/pioneers; Gene Schneider, Bill Daniels, Fred Veirras, Chuck, all were very early on very supportive of Playboy.

NELSON: I’m assuming there were introductions?

HEFNER: Absolutely, and I spent a lot of time in Denver.

NELSON: As a lot of people did. But were there other operators who kind of looked aghast at the idea of adult entertainment on TV at that time?

HEFNER: Honestly, I think the big challenge that we had in the early days wasn’t the lack of support from the operators as much as it was that the analog cable systems only had 35-40 channels and it was already clear that there were going to be more good ideas than that. So we grew, but we grew slowly because there were a lot of services competing for that channel space. What really helped us is when the industry embraced addressability and saw the strong consumer appeal that Playboy had as a key component in getting the consumer to want to buy addressable boxes. What happened in that period was that the big movies and Playboy and a certain amount of sports were really the three compelling reasons to buy pay-per-view. So Playboy then began to grow as a pay-per-view service supported by the cable industry as a way of helping sell in addressability just as frankly in the later ’80s, early ’90s Playboy benefited from the perception on the part of Direct TV that people would buy dishes to get Playboy 24 hours a day. We started around the same time that the Disney Channel launched as a premium network. In fact, one of my all time favorite marketing creative ideas was the cable company that put up billboards all over town with two images: Mickey Mouse and the Playboy rabbit head and the headline was “Up to your ears in entertainment” because of packaging “buy Disney for the kids and Playboy for the grown-ups”.

NELSON: Did you hear from Disney about that?

HEFNER: The Disney people were not happy, I have to say. Michael Eisner and I have a very nice relationship, but he was not amused.

NELSON: Right, but it wasn’t your doing, right?

HEFNER: No, no, but I don’t remember the billboards lasting a long time.

NELSON: I think it was a demonstration of the recognizability and the power of those two logos, both of which have ears.

HEFNER: Absolutely. That’s exactly right. That you didn’t even need to say Playboy and Disney.

NELSON: So as your activities in the cable industry started to evolve – on the one hand you had a premium network, on the other hand you were doing pay-per-view – what was the mix of that, without getting into dollars, revenue-wise? Which one was really driving Playboy into the cable home?

HEFNER: Well, interestingly, what we learned is that the appeal of the television network is very similar to the appeal of the magazine in that it has two audiences. It has an audience of really loyal fans who want to subscribe, who want it all the time. And it has an audience appeal on an impulse basis, just like people will go by a Barnes and Noble and see who the Playboy interview is or that Cindy Crawford’s in the magazine and wants to buy that issue. Somebody will be home Friday night with their girlfriend and say, “Hey, I want to watch a Playboy movie, or I want to watch Seven Lives Exposed on Playboy TV.” So, in truth, if we had our druthers, every cable operator would aggressively promote the channel both on a subscription basis and on a pay-per-view basis. We don’t control the world in that regard, so we’ve tended to have to rely on where the industry is with regard to its own focus on a marketing and technology basis. We started just as a subscription service because that was really the only way pay was marketed, and then the cable industry embraced pay-per-view and they kind of abandoned us as a subscription service and pushed us as a pay-per-view service. Now, in the digital upgrade that’s going on, cable companies are looking to the success of Direct TV’s which had great success offering Playboy both as a subscription service and on a pay-per-view basis, so, we’re starting to work now with the large cable companies to do exactly that. To let your consumers choose. And in effect, what pay-per-view became was the conversion of churn into profits. We all remember churn as a problem that the premium services suffered from, especially in the early days of cable, and what we learned, at least for us, is that as long as you had a mechanism for impulse buying that was profitable as opposed to running the truck back and forth then it was a great business to be in.

NELSON: Now, cable historically hasn’t done that well with pay-per-view. It’s sort of never – and we won’t talk about the digital age yet – but the analog pay-per-view was never that great a business. Yeah, the big title fight or something like that, but on an on-going basis it never quite reached the potential people saw for it, but how about from the Playboy standpoint? Did that work well for you?

HEFNER: Pay-per-view actually has worked very well for us and I think one of the things that Playboy offers the cable industry that’s different from the big fight or the Hollywood movie is a consistency of buy because it isn’t a question of which movie this month or is there a top fighter this month. It’s really a mood buy, so it’s quite reliable and quite consistent. Now, unquestionably we know that the ease of ordering in digital versus analog and the better electronic guide makes the home more valuable in digital for the operator and for us than it is in analog, but we actually built a very sizeable business in pay-per-view even pre the more recent digital upgrading.

NELSON: But talk about that, particularly as you saw that coming down the pike because let’s say ten years ago that was first talked about, John Malone’s famous “500 channels”, I think in fact this is the tenth anniversary of that comment – what did you do when you saw that coming along to prepare for that?

HEFNER: I think we were the first channel to actually test the idea of chunks of time. I remember we actually tested something called the Playboy Weekend with a couple of operators where you would pay less than the monthly and you’d get Playboy Friday and Saturday nights, basically, based on our experience over many years with the magazine that people might buy on impulse. And we were right. The consumers voted with their pocketbook that they liked that. So we tried to be kind of an early partner with the cable companies in encouraging Playboy to be on the first tier of offering when they were just rolling out addressability and pay-per-view. I think almost without exception we were launched pretty early, and then we’d also use our own media to promote the offerings. So the magazine which reaches ten million readers a month and catalogs that mail to millions used to support the idea that you could call your local cable company and order Playboy Friday. We also started to create most of our content and probably 80% of what’s on Playboy TV is original programming that we create that’s exclusive to Playboy TV. So, for example we’d take the Playmate of the month and do a feature around that, trying to create programming that would have good sell-through.

NELSON: But you also acquired a lot of programming, I would assume. You couldn’t have produced all of this stuff yourself.

HEFNER: Well, we ramped up as the business grew. I remember doing the first secondary for the company in 1992, which was the first time we had sold stock since the company’s IPO, which was in the early ’70s, and the road show that I did was all built around our potential in TV. The whole story that we were telling was that this is a company that you think of as a magazine company but in fact it’s becoming a television driven company. We had done some strategic planning in that time period (we called it “Playboy 2000” – because everybody called their strategic plans in the early ’90s fill-in-the-blank 2000) but in our case there were two very powerful assumptions about what Playboy would be in the year 2000 which was that it would be electronic and it would be international. So we were really committed to transforming the company from a domestically focused print company, which had been its heritage, to an internationally oriented electronic media company. The road show was before the television networks were profitable, because we were investing in original programming and we were making a big bet on that because most other networks had launched by acquiring product that had already been made for another medium, whether it was sports programming or movies that had theatrical release. But we felt that neither the major studio movies that were already available on the HBOs and Showtimes, nor the so-called adult movies, which really weren’t of a quality and sophistication that people would expect from Playboy would work on Playboy TV. So the only way to really build the business to a big business was to create a lot more original content. The road show, which was in fact hugely successful, oversubscribed and up-priced, was really sold on the premise of being in front of this many homes with this cost level, but we’re growing while our costs will remain relatively constant so when those lines cross we’re going to have a terrific business. This year our entertainment division, which is our worldwide television networks and home video, will become the largest revenue business of the company, larger than publishing, and it’s a 25% margin business where publishing is a 5% margin business. So that bet that we made, particularly in the commitment to original programming, was really the big bet for the company. Today we produce over 200 hours of original programming every year. We spend 45 million dollars doing it and we have a library of over 2,000 hours of original, unique Playboy movies and programs.

NELSON: And you made a bet that a lot of other cable networks over time made that bet, although most of them didn’t commit that early, and that is the whole power of original programming to drive people to cable as opposed to broadcast networks. Of course you had a particular issue around Playboy, your brand, what that represented. Now, you did acquire some additional adult networks. What was the discussion around that because those weren’t necessarily of the Playboy sophistication in all cases?

HEFNER: We actually got into the adult movie business on the request of the cable MSOs in about 1996. Time Warner and a couple of the other large MSOs had been experimenting in some of their systems buying adult movies and programming them and had decided that there was definitely a business that was separate from the Playboy Television programming business. Frankly I think they felt that they would rather buy through Playboy than in any other way because we’re a company with, I think, a deserved reputation for applying both standards and practices that you would feel good about as a programming partner. So we launched a movie service called Adultvision. The agreement that we reached with the MSOs was that if they give us enough distribution to make the business profitable, we’d be the aggregator of content from the adult movie studios. So we launched Adultvision in ’96 as a flanker brand for Playboy at the request of the MSOs. What happened then is that the other company that had more distribution for adult movie services, which was Spice, had acquired that distribution by deep discounting, and consequently found themselves in a position where they were actually losing money. That gave Playboy Enterprises the chance to acquire them, consolidate Spice with Adultvision and eliminate the duplicative costs. So we had a bigger business in terms of more homes for the Spice Networks which we packaged with Playboy. In 2000 we bought the last assets from those businesses so now we have the ability to put an array of movie services plus Playboy together and sell it in to the MSOs. That’s actually been important to us because with all the consolidation on the cable side you want to be important enough as a programmer that when you sit down to talk about the carriage agreement you’re an important customer. Having Playboy plus the Spice Networks really allows us to do that.

NELSON: Now, with aggregating all this programming, how does that now play into the world of VOD that’s upon us?

HEFNER: Well, we definitely have always believed in the next advancement of technology. We talked about the early days of addressability and the role Playboy played in helping really drive pay-per-view. So both VOD and S-VOD are interesting to us because we have brands, libraries and content creating capability. We’re working with the cable companies as we sit here in tests around the country because I think the unanswered questions that we all have is what’s the right pricing, what’s the right way to market, how do you educate the consumer and how do you make it economical for the operator to put the infrastructure in place to deliver this way?

NELSON: And any sense of the mix of VOD, which is much more along the lines of your pay-per-view business, and S-VOD, the subscription service, which again, primarily plays off the premiums?

HEFNER: I really don’t have a guess. What I like is the fact that because I control my content I can let the market determine what that optimal mix is and whatever it is the operators will benefit from it.

NELSON: And just to wrap up here, give me your sense of where you’re trying to go from here.

HEFNER: Well, one thing I would say that I think is really important in any kind of look backwards at cable, and we’ve been in the business for 20 years, is that we’re also very proud of having made a really important contribution in settling the law as far as the First Amendment rights that cable enjoys. One of the legacies of our partnership with cable over those decades was our willingness to spend millions of dollars to challenge a really bad law, Section 505, up through the Supreme Court. And as a result, for the first time our industry has the Supreme Court of the United States affirming that the standards for pay television are the same as for print and the internet when previously there was question as to whether the standards might be more like broadcast standards, which of course have many more restrictions on what adults can see. So, part of what we’ve been able to do is put cable on an equal playing field with the internet and with its ability to expand into new entertainment and information offerings for people both here and internationally. For us, we’re really excited about the opportunity to grow from the 19 million cable homes that carry Playboy TV today to the 70 million cable homes that are out there because we have carriage agreements with all the MSOs. So in that world of the 500 channel universe, when channel capacity is no longer a constraint, we’ll have the chance to offer our content into everybody’s home and to do that in partnership with cable around the world, and that’s a very exciting opportunity.

Scott McArthur

Scott McArthur

Chief Revenue Officer


As CRO, Scott leads the company’s Sales, Partnerships and Customer divisions. With over 15 years of experience across consumer retail and technology sectors, Scott’s focus has always been to improve the customer experience through profitable interactions. Prior to joining Statflo, he managed Sales and Marketing teams at Telus, one of Canada’s largest Telecommunications companies, responsible for bringing innovative solutions to the frontline teams in the SMB and Consumer segments. During his career, he has built high performing teams and developed programs that drive engagement and revenue growth.

Camilla Formica

Camilla Formica

Chief Program Officer

Syndeo Institute at The Cable Center

Camilla Formica leads experiential programs and thought leadership to empower and embolden industry innovators. In collaboration with The Cable Center team, she delivers on the organization’s mandate to support leaders defining a new era for the industry.

Camilla’s career spans more than 30 years with deep experience cultivating strategic partnerships and creating programs that provide people with the skills and confidence to increase their impact. Previously, she served as Chief Revenue Officer and minority owner at NCTI and drove sales efforts at International Fiber Communications as Corporate Vice President, Sales. She also held leadership roles at Metromedia/WorldCom and ICG. She began her career at Metromedia Communications in Southern California.

Celebrated by the industry for her leadership and mentorship, Camilla was named to the 56th Class of Cable TV Pioneers and was recognized by The WICT Network-Rocky Mountain as Mentor of the Year in May of 2022. She supports women leaders as vice president of that organization and has led and served on NTCA and PACE advisory councils. A breast cancer survivor, Camilla is a Model of Courage for the Ford Warriors in Pink ambassadorship program. She remains a minority owner of NCTI and serves on the company’s board.

Mark Snow

Mark Snow

SVP, Consumer Marketing & Insights


Mark has been a marketer in the communications and broadband industry for 22 years with experience in marketing strategy, consumer insights, analytics, digital marketing and traditional media marketing. Mark is currently Senior Vice President & General Manager of Consumer Marketing & Insights for CTAM, the Cable Industry’s marketing association. In this role, he leads the MSO Marketing Cooperative, a consortium of the largest cable companies in the United States, Canada, and Europe, with a team focused on consumer marketing, analytics and consumer research. The team leads a number of councils focused on industry best practices and manages the National Mover Marketing Program for its U.S. members.

Prior to CTAM, Mark was VP of Marketing Strategy & Analytics for Swire, a Los Angeles-based boutique advertising agency. Before Swire, Mark was with Cox Communications for eight years, where he held roles of increasing responsibility in marketing. Before joining the Cable Industry, Mark spent seven years in the wireless industry with GTE Wireless, now a part of Verizon.

Mark holds a B.A. degree cum laude in Music History, Theory and Composition from the College of Charleston and an M.B.A. with honors from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University.

Charles Patti

Charles Patti

Senior Fellow & Cox Chair

Syndeo Institute at The Cable Center

Charles (Chuck) is the James M. Cox Professor of Customer Experience Management and Senior Fellow at The Cable Center and a Professor Emeritus at the University of Denver and Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. Professor Patti has deep international experience through consulting and academic appointments throughout Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia, with extensive experience in building, delivering, and evaluating curriculum in a wide range of settings, including doctoral seminars, MBA and other specialized postgraduate courses, undergraduate programs, and professional and corporate learning. He has special expertise in case method learning and has coordinated several case learning workshops, including a Harvard Business School case workshop. He was an early adopter of online teaching and learning technologies and developed several firsts in learning technology, including the first video case, the C-DIE format (interactive case learning), the online MBA (Otis Elevator Company), and most recently, the Virtual Grocery Environment for interactive learning.

Much of his teaching draws from his business and consulting experience, which includes clients in the higher education sector (The Cultural Precinct, University Libraries, Bureau of Publications, Athletic Departments, Colleges of Business, Law, and Arts, and the Australian Vice Chancellors’ Committee) and in the business sector (American Newspaper Publishers Association, American Telephone Advertising, Inc., Chubb Electronic Security, Gannett, Inc., McDonald’s Corp., New Zealand Telecom, and Sunsuper, Pty. Ltd.) He has built and delivered major learning programs with consulting clients that have included Aetna Insurance, British American Tobacco, Otis Elevator, Queensland State Department of Development, Siemens, Texas Instruments, and Philip Morris. His research covers marketing communication and CE management and his work includes journal articles, book chapters, and eight books on various aspects of marketing. Recently, Dr. Patti has been conducting research on the Customer Experience (CE) Maturity Curve, CE ROI, and CE metrics. He is a past winner of the Marketing Educator of the Year Award and is recipient of the James Hershner Free Enterprise Award.

Dr. Patti holds a A.B. (history and literature), an M.S. (advertising) and a Ph.D., all from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

Rodrigo Duclos

Rodrigo Duclos

Chief Digital Officer

Claro Brasil

Rodrigo Modesto Duclos is graduated in Electric Engineering and holds an MBA in Strategy and Marketing where he developed a structural analysis of the Brazilian Cable industry in 1999.

Rodrigo began his career in NET Sul, a cable start-up back in 1994 and worked for different companies in the telecom industry (Claro, Promon, LogicaCMG). Since the early days he has been involved with many innovative projects in telecommunications such as the introduction of broadband in Brazil (Cable Modems), Mobile pre-paid services, SMS, Ring-tones, MMS, Mobile Internet (GPRS/Edge, WAP), Digital TV (DVB), VOD and IP Video among others.

Currently Rodrigo is leading the digital transformation projects in Claro Brasil Group (NET, Embratel and Claro) as the Chief Digital Officer.

Bob Bartelt

Bob Bartelt

Director of Customer Experience Operations


Bob Bartelt joined Midco in 2014, and in 2018 became Director of Customer Experience Operations. In this role, Bob leads the day-to-day operations of all customer support groups ensuring that Midco is providing a world-class experience at every customer touchpoint. Bob came to Midco with 10 years of industry experience as an operations manager and site leader for a business process outsourcing company.

He holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in business management and currently serves as the Board President for his local youth hockey organization. Bob is also a 2016 graduate of the Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo class through the FMWF Chamber of Commerce and was named to Prairie Business magazines “40 under 40” list in 2019.

Diane Christman

Diane Christman

President and CEO

Syndeo Institute at The Cable Center

Diane Christman leads The Cable Center’s work to build on the activation of Vision 2025, the expansion of the Intrapreneurship Academy, and the investment in creating a vibrant community for resource and idea sharing through thought leadership. She will advance the Vision 2025 strategic planning initiative implementation in collaboration with The Cable Center team and board after co-leading the effort in 2020 and 2021.

Diane brings 30 years of experience building partnerships that drive growth and create value. She is respected for her diplomatic style and global perspective, valued by an industry inventing the future of high-quality video content and Gigabit-speed connectivity for residential and business customers in U.S. and international markets. Diane joined The Cable Center in 2006 as vice president, marketing and development. She was promoted to senior vice president, programs and development in 2009 and senior vice president, development and chief program officer in 2019. She became president and CEO in January of 2022.

Since she joined The Cable Center, Diane has been responsible for creation of The Center’s $10 million Chairman’s Fund endowment campaign (approaching completion); partnerships supporting The Cable Center’s Mavericks Lecture Series, Cable Mavericks Masters Forum, and Cable Center Customer Centric Consortium (C5) initiatives; increasingly successful Cable Hall of Fame events; and organizational re-branding.

Simón Tadeo

Simón Tadeo

Customer Experience Director

Telecom Argentina

Simón Tadeo is the Customer Experience Director at Telecom, the leading telecommunications company in Argentina. Telecom main brands are Personal (Mobile), Fibertel (Broadband), Arnet (ADSL Broadband) and Cablevisión (TV). For corporate customers Telecom main brands are Fibercorp & Telecom Negocios.

Simón began his career at Cablevision in 1998 and has held various positions, including Client Retention Coordinator, Business Analyst, Head of Administration & Control and Sales Integration Manager. In 2008, after the merger between Cablevision and Multicanal, Simón assumed responsibility for the creation and integration of the new business processes.

From November 2009, Simón led the Open Project—a three-year business transformation project that deployed a new CRM, billing system, workforce management, mobile, & BI systems in Cablevisión, Fibertel and Fibercorp. For the next three years, Simón focused on improving customer experience for Cablevisión – Fibertel, fostering Innovation across the company and leading a cross company Project Management Team. From June 2016 until January 2018, Simón was responsible for the leadership of the Sales & Customer Care management teams, which included accountability for sales and churn, contact centers, digital channels, retail stores, business processes and customer insights.

In February 2018, following the merger of Telecom and Cablevision, Simón was appointed the Customer Experience Director of the newly-formed company, Telecom Argentina.

Simón holds a degree in Business Administration from the UCA (University Católica Argentina) and studies in Marketing at UCES (University of Business and Social Sciences).

Maureen Moore

Maureen Moore

Chief Customer Experience Officer


In her current position, Maureen is responsible for the overall customer experience strategy of GCI. With more than 20 years of telecom experience, she previously served as Vice President of Consumer Services, with marketing and operations responsibility for GCI’s consumer products, including wireless, Internet, cable TV, and wireline services. She also served on the Alaska Broadband Task Force from 2011-2014 which produced a plan for accelerating the deployment and adoption of broadband technology across Alaska. She graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Business Administration, double majoring in Finance and Management. Maureen is currently based out of Anchorage, Alaska.

Kimberly Gibson

Kimberly Gibson

Sr. Director Customer Operations

Cable ONE/Sparklight

Kimberly Gibson is the Senior Director of Customer Operations. As a key member of the Customer Operations Team, she is responsible for aligning strategy with company goals and objectives, testing and implementation of solutions and best practices to improve the customer experience across Cable ONE/Sparklight’s 42 systems and three inbound call centers. Kim has responsibilities for over 300 Cable ONE/Sparklight associates.

She joined Cable ONE/Sparklight in 2004 as Office Manager of Cable ONE/Sparklight’s technical Solution Center. In 2005, she was promoted to General Manager, assuming full responsibility for the day-to-day activities of the 150-seat center currently averaging 88,000 calls a month. Kim was promoted in August 2005 to the General Manager of Cable ONE/Sparklight’s national inbound Customer Care call center and was responsible for all aspects of the center’s daily operation, including but not limited to, strategy planning, leadership coaching and metric achievement. In January 2008, Kim was promoted to Director of Virtual Operations responsible for the operations of the Virtual Call centers in Cable ONE/Sparklight’s local markets.

Prior to joining the Cable ONE/Sparklight leadership team, Kim gained vast experience in the communications industry where she began her career with Qwest Communications in 1991. After advancing to a Network Operations Supervisor position in 1997, her quality focus resulted in a promotion to Network Operations Manager for Qwest’s Arizona dispatch centers.

Kimberly graduated from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a B.S. in Hospitality Management and earned an MBA in Technology Management from the University of Phoenix.

Suzanne Foy

Suzanne Foy

VP, Customer Care Partner Management Strategy and Cox Business Support

Cox Communications

Suzanne leads Cox customer care outsource partner management, strategy, program management and Cox business customer support. Previous roles include customer support, billing and payment experiences across call center and online channels, customer-focused process standardization, user-focused knowledge management, communications and agent education.

Eric Burton

Eric Burton

Vice President, Tools, Technology, and Quality


Eric Burton is Vice President, Tools, Technology, and Quality overseeing desktop tools, customer facing support tools and content, ITGs and troubleshooting solutions, quality, performance management, and coaching. He plays an important role in developing Customer Service strategy at Comcast, working closely with his peers across the Divisions, National COEs, and Headquarters. Eric is squarely focused on Comcast’s goal to make the customer experience the best product, through ensuring that employees and customers have the best possible tools, and that quality and coaching programs reinforce and support that goal. Eric is focused on identifying winning behaviors that will help build a culture of Ownership at all levels of the organization.

Prior to joining Comcast, Eric was Group Vice President, Care Shared Services at Time Warner Cable. In that role, Eric was responsible for outsourced operations, alternative care channels, reporting and analytics, care technology, quality and customer perspective, and voice operations. Eric also held a variety of executive Operations and Technology leadership positions at Time Warner Cable, and having worked his way up through the ranks has extensive front-line leadership experience as well.

Eric holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, is a graduate of the Tuck School of Business Executive Program, and completed the CTAM Management Program at the Harvard Business School.

He resides in his native Southern California with his wife and two daughters and enjoys time with family, trail running, mountain-biking, and generally being outdoors as much as possible.

Wyatt Barnett

Wyatt Barnett

Senior Director, Industry and Association Affairs

NCTA - The Internet & Television Association

Wyatt Barnett serves as Senior Director, Technology Enablement in NCTA’s Creative Services department. He helps the association with creative technical solutions while concurrently serving as lead curator and tour guide for NCTA’s recently renovated Public Advocacy Space.

Wyatt has worked at NCTA in a variety of technology roles since joining the association in 2000. He worked on the team that crafted the annual trade show – The Cable Show and later INTX – for over a decade, successfully delivering and scaling industry exhibits and stage presentations for high-profile audiences.

Rob Stoddard

Robert (Rob) Stoddard


NCTA - The Internet & Television Association

Following a career in journalism and government, Rob Stoddard worked for more than three decades in senior positions in communications, public relations, and public affairs serving the cable industry.

Rob’s early career found him working as a news assistant at the Washington, DC, bureau of ABC Radio, followed by stints as a news director and correspondent for radio stations in Keene, NH and Springfield, MA. He went on to work as a desk editor and regional executive for United Press International in Boston, before joining the staff of U.S. Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-KS) as Press Secretary in Washington, DC. His cable career began as Washington Bureau Chief for Cable TV Business Magazine and other telecommunications and defense industry trade publications of Denver-based Cardiff Publishing Company. From there he moved on to lead public relations and corporate communications for the Cable Telecommunications Association (CATA), Continental Cablevision, MediaOne, and AT&T Broadband, then the largest cable multiple system operator in the United States. Rob’s career was capped by a 20-year run with what was then the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) as Senior Vice President for Communications & Public Affairs. After the association changed its name to NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, Rob became Senior Vice President for Industry & Association Affairs, retiring in January 2022.

Rob is a member of the Cable Television Pioneers as well as the Virginia Cable Hall of Fame. He’s been recognized with major diversity awards from the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and the Washington, DC / Baltimore Chapter of The WICT Network. He also has been inducted into the PRNews Hall of Fame. He proudly represented NCTA as a member of the industry Customer Care Committee (now C5) for nearly 20 years, from its inception at NCTA through the stewardship of CTAM and finally its permanent home at The Cable Center. In recognition of his meritorious service to The Cable Center and C5, Rob was conferred as a C5 Emeritus in 2022.

Gibbs Jones

Gibbs Jones

C5 Emeritus
Owner (Spartanburg)

ARCpoint Labs

Gibbs is a customer experience executive with over 25 years of customer experience leadership and expertise in the design, optimization and implementation of customer contact operations. Gibbs has combined skill in the human and technology side of customer contact operations, including the procurement and installation of ACD equipment, workforce management and CRM systems. He has directed the start-up of multiple customer contact operations, with industry expertise in consumer electronics, communications, retail, manufacturing, financial services, banking, and direct sales.

Gibbs has over ten years experience in the Cable Industry. Most recently Gibbs was the Senior Vice President of Customer Experience for Suddenlink Communications. Gibbs worked with Suddenlink’s six regional senior vice presidents and the managers of its customer-contact call centers in Arizona, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia to measure and improve Customer Satisfaction through transactional and relationship Net Promoter Programs and JD Power Research Studies.

Gibbs was also responsible for the company’s social media strategy where he made sure Suddenlink was active in the major social networking channels and found new ways to improve customer loyalty in this space.

Currently Gibbs owns two ARCpoint Labs locations. ARCpoint is a leader in the B to C and B to B drug and alcohol testing industry. Additionally, Gibbs has a consulting practice that helps companies improve their customer experience.

Gibbs is a Certified Net Promoter® Associate and has been a speaker at various conferences and is frequently called upon to discuss considerations related to measuring and improving the customer experience, exceptional contact center management, and optimizing the employee experience.


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