Kay Koplovitz

Kay Koplovitz WICT 1999

Interview Date: 1999
Collection: WICT 20th Anniversary Collection Project

KOPLOVITZ: Kay Koplovitz. I’m the CEO of Koplovitz and Company.

INTERVIEWER: Going back to when you first came into the cable business and you’re recalling that time, can you sort of describe what it was like in the industry back then?

KOPLOVITZ: I came into the business in 1973, and worked for UA Columbia at Cable vision for Bob Rosencrans, and I was in franchising. So it was a wonderful way to learn the business, because when you go and represent a company at a franchise hearing, you can ask questions of every facet of the business. And so when in fact you hadn’t actually done any of that business yourself, you could learn a lot quickly by meeting with and working with other members of the executive team, and presenting it in public. So I thought it was really actually a wonderful way to learn the business very quickly.

INTERVIEWER: What struck you most about the industry at that time? Can you sort of recall back, and what kind of things were thinking as you were doing that about the industry in general?

KOPLOVITZ: I purposely came into the industry. I came from the broadcast industry. I started off as a producer, broadcast producer at NBC station Milwaukee, WGMJ. And after being there for three months, I realized that people at WGMJ had already thought that I had reached the pinnacle of my career by being the only female producer they had ever had. I realized that they didn’t see me as the manager of that station–which I actually didn’t want to be. I wanted to be the president of NBC, so I knew that there was a long way and a long distance between what I saw for me and what they saw for me. So I decided that an upstart business would probably be a more open opportunity for me as a woman, and I wanted to be in programming and thought that the cable business had actually very little product to offer at that time in the early ’70s. It was basically off-the-air television, and the industry really needed to develop some unique programming. So I thought it would be a great opportunity, and that’s why I got into the business. So how did the business appear to me in 1973? It was an extremely infantile business. People thought, pay for television? Who are you kidding? We were not very welcome at these local government hearings where they were talking about paying for television. What an awful idea. But we sooner or later became persuasive that we could really bring great differentiated programming to the viewer, and of course, the rest is history. People today really demand great breadth, and differentiation in their programming today. And I think most people that live in America think it’s their right to have it and to pay for it, of course (laughs).

INTERVIEWER: There’s incredible change in the industry today, and if you were to ask some of the senior most people in the industry where the industry is going all of them will hedge their bets one way or another. Looking back to that time when you first got into the business, did you even imagine the industry where it is today?

KOPLOVITZ: No. I couldn’t. I could imagine a business that was offering a great deal more variety in the programming, and more viewer choice which until we got to the more recent introduction of the broadband phase, and the Internet access, the cable modem, etc., until we got into that phase, that’s basically what our business was, really offering a great deal more variety. That I could envision. That I envisioned when I wrote my Master’s thesis on the topic in 1968, so I had wanted to be in this business for a number of years before it actually was mature enough to really offer these differentiated program networks.

INTERVIEWER: It’s the time of year when people are graduating, and an inevitable part of graduation is the key note address, the commencement address given by some successful person where they’re asked to distill their entire life’s work and wisdom into 15 words or less. If you were to distill down the elements of your success, what would they be?

KOPLOVITZ: I think I have a clear vision of where I want to go, and I have the consistent drive to get there. I think that has really been pretty much the hallmark of what my success has been, because having started the first cable network, a basic cable network – HBO existed at the time – it was really an outgrowth of something that I had envisioned when I wrote a paper about it nine years earlier. And it’s really holding onto that vision, and being able to meet the right people in order to help execute it. And getting the opportunity, and having the opportunity executed well. So I think that really is quite the measure of my success. I like the new frontiers. I’m not afraid of something. In fact, I prefer the new frontier. I prefer to be out on the edge where the rules aren’t written where you can write your own rules. I think it’s very exciting. Today, I think moving on into the broadband space is a very exciting place to go for everyone into our industry, and to absorb it and to utilize it and turn it into a creative process that we can all benefit from. And not to shy away from it, because one thing you’ll learn is you can never put Pandora back in the box.

INTERVIEWER: Comparing today and the opportunities that exist today and those that existed when you first started– were there more opportunities? Was it more open then than now, or less open than now?

KOPLOVITZ: Open to what?

INTERVIEWER: New ideas, opportunity?

KOPLOVITZ: I just think there are many, many more opportunities today, because technologies and where we’ve come and the platform we have to work on today is so much bigger that it was back in the early ’70s. In the early ’70s there was excitement, and there was sort of a Wild West atmosphere but there were very few things to choose from that you could really access at the time. You had to sort of build, for example, programming. I originally brought all the professional sports to cable except the NFL which came much later. There was an openness for that. There was a reluctance on the movie side to open up the movie offering to cable. We didn’t have all these other multiple channel opportunities. We didn’t have access to a lot of things that we have developed through our own tools today. Today there are really many more opportunities to develop new products. It’s a much more competitive environment. That’s what makes it more difficult. If you started something back in the ’70s — sports started in 1977 — if you started something then, you were unique. There was not very much competition, and it was extremely welcome by the industry. And the industry gave a great deal of support to it. Today, there are so many people pitching products. There are so many opportunities, but it’s a much more crowded field, and so there’s a lot more rejection than there was in the early days.

INTERVIEWER: In an environment back in the ’70s where there was a very fraternal relationship between all of the heads of the major cable companies, was it difficult to be a woman at that time or where there certain advantages that you had because you were a woman?

KOPLOVITZ: I think I was unique at the time. I was unique in starting a cable network and being a CEO of a cable network at a very early time in the industry and at a relatively young age. And I was in the sports business. It was an all sports network when it started, and so there was a lot that was unique about me and about what I did at that time. I found everybody to be very receptive. I don’t mistake that with ever being part of the old boy network, because I never was. You can’t. I think it’s very hard for women to really find a parity in that environment. It’s not that people don’t like you, or people won’t see you, or people won’t do business with you, but there are certain aspects of it that you won’t be invited to. And I think that’s always been true.

INTERVIEWER: The majority of new business that’s started in this country is started by women. And some have suggested the entrepreneurship may be the great equalizer. That women going out on their own will make their own opportunities that aren’t afforded them in corporate America. Do you agree with that statement?

KOPLOVITZ: You’re asking someone about women entrepreneurs who now know a great deal about women entrepreneurs being the chair of the National Women’s Business Council currently. I can tell you that there are nine billion businesses owned by women in this country. They contributed over three trillion dollars to the GNP in 1997, almost 20%. They employ far more people than the fortune 500. In fact, one out of four workers in America works for a business owned by a women today. Yet, we are largely invisible. And it has a negative impact on our ability to fund both debt financing and equity markets. And I, personally, am dedicated to opening up the equity markets to women entrepreneurs. Women get 1.6% of the equity dollars in the American market. 1.6%. It is woefully lacking in performance behind women entrepreneurs, and I feel that it is. I think women really ought to go into the entrepreneurial market place, and establish businesses. I’m not saying it’s for everyone. Not every women should do it. We have a lot of women in our industry who are doing very well running companies as presidents of program companies and are moving up the ranks in the cable companies as well. But I really don’t think that as a group women have learned yet how to work the financial markets in a way that will build wealth, personal wealth, for women the way that men in the industry have learned to do it. And I think that that’s really the next frontier for women, and I’m going to do everything I can to open up those markets for women across America, not just in cable, not just in telecommunications, but in a lot of different industries. I think it’s doable. I think the time is ripe. I think it’s the right time to do it right now. And I think that growth of businesses in the next decade, indeed the next century, are going to be largely dependant on the success of women in the business a market as well as men. So I think it’s time to make a change, and we’ll see that some of that change comes about quite quickly. We’re starting to see some changes in the market place, and I’m dedicated to opening it up.

INTERVIEWER: You talked a little bit about the vision, and how that’s all come to fruition now. Sort of looking forward into the future, there’s a two part question here. One is can you imagine, or do you have the vision now of what will happen, let’s say the next 20 years which is an extraordinary amount of time given how quickly things move? And if you do, are there going to be more or fewer opportunities for women in this new kind of world where things move so rapidly?

KOPLOVITZ: Yes, I do have a vision. In 20 years it’s almost like 100 years. The next 20 years will be almost like the last 100 years. Certainly it’s moving so much faster, the market place is moving so much faster than it did when I started in sports, and then USA Network. It’s really quite different time frame, and I think it’s moving four to five times faster easily. And so I think that we’re going to see rapid movement to empowering the individual in all areas of communication, including the way we get news and entertainment. And I think that there are great opportunities for women in this coming market place because it’s understanding the consumer. To illustrate for you the difference, in programming USA Networks which I was very proud to have a network and to create a network that really led in prime time for 12 out of 13 years–the last 12 out of 13 years that I ran the company which was quite an achievement. I think it’s really been, in addition to launching Sci-Fi and so forth, that’s quite an achievement. And I had the ability to program that network in the way that I thought the most people would be pleased watching it. And it is a general entertainment network, and so therefore, we are looking for the largest audiences rather than a very tightly targeted, defined audience. The new world is not going to be like that. The new world is going to be the individual in charge, and people often ask me, is it going to be 200 networks, or 500 networks? I try to tell them it’s irrelevant. It’s totally irrelevant. It might as well be infinite, because the source of the material are going to be so vast, it is really going to be a brand marketing to the consumer, and the consumer is going to be in charge of what they want. And I think that women have a very good touch and feel for the consumer market place, and so I think there’s going to be some really wonderful opportunities in all aspects of the business as it goes forward. But I do think the economics are going to change in the business. Going to have to build business models that serve from the consumer back to the provider rather the provider to the consumer. And it’s going to cause some chaos in our market place, but definitely individual choice, and you might as well think of television network as one network, my network, the way I program it. And that’s what it is going to be in the future. So the transition will be over time, but when you’re talking 20 years from now, I’m positive that’s what it’s going to be.

INTERVIEWER: So in 20 years that transition will be complete?


INTERVIEWER: One of the things that people talk about all the time in breeding success for women is the role that role models and mentors play. Looking back on your career, can you identify some of the people who have been your role models and mentors? And what are the things that you learned from their example?

KOPLOVITZ: When I first got into this business, Bob Rosencrans definitely was a role model for me. I learned a lot by watching the way Bob did business, and he has always had an attitude of win-win in business. And I am highly competitive as an individual. I really never felt that I had to kill somebody else to win. I really felt that winning was enough. You could leave a few cents on the table, and everybody would be happier and go away from a negotiation feeling that the deal was fair. And in the end if it isn’t a fair deal, it isn’t going to last anyway. So I learned a lot from Bob, particularly, in negotiating those early sports contracts. It was a good learning curve for me, and so he provided, I think, some of the earlier lessons that I’ve learned to really cherish and have guided me through my business–throughout my career. I think one of the my friends and peers who I most admire in the business, because I think he’s one of the greatest marketers we’ve seen is David Stern who is the NBA Commissioner, also a very good friend, and also goes back to my early days in this business. One of the tougher negotiators that I negotiated with, but I respected a tough but fair negotiator. And I learned a lot from him, but I’ve learned more since then in terms of marketing product. I think he’s done a superb job in marketing product. But there are others. Those are the two that come to mind.

INTERVIEWER: You know no doubt understand that you are a role model to a great many women in this industry.


INTERVIEWER: What do you hope they find from following your example? What do you hope are the things that they learn from you?

KOPLOVITZ: I think leadership is extremely important. I’ve tried to demonstrate throughout my career in numerous activities that I’ve had in the industry that women can and should be leaders in the industry. It breaks my heart when I look at the NCTA board, for example, and for many years I was the only woman on the board, and now that I’m gone, there are no women on the board–gone from USA. And that’s not a criticism of the board. It’s to say to women, women should aspire to be in the leadership circles. That’s how we gain respect in the business. And I think that Women in Cable and Telecommunications has done a really good job on the management seminars, and the contribution to the industry. And it isn’t just about women. It’s about being professional contributors to the industry which I think is very important. And I think we’re really doing a good job there, but developing leadership, getting out in front, providing that guidance and leadership to an entire industry, not just for your business, but for your peers in the business as well. I think that’s really important, and I hope if women look at my career and say that I too can be that leader, and it inspires them to reach for it, then I think I will have been successful as being a role model.

INTERVIEWER: As a female leader, do you think you lead it in ways differently than your male counterparts might?

KOPLOVITZ: I never thought so when I was younger. I thought, and I always wanted to just be judged at being a competitor and succeeding on the bottom line. I never asked for anything different. I never wanted anything different. But I do think I always thought it was just an individual trait just because it was me, and everybody’s different. But I’ve always felt that you hire the best people, you give them the best guidance you can, you set the targets that you want to reach and you be very clear about them, and then you have them do their jobs. My philosophy is that good people will always outperform your expectations if they’re given the responsibility and the authority to do it. I think that it’s different than other peoples’… there are other people in the business like that who are men as well as women, and then there are people who manage by fear who want to intimidate and destroy people. It’s a different way of managing. I don’t know if my attributes are more female or just a style. But I do think that I have tried to care about people who have worked for me. I’ve tried to be supportive of people. I’ve tried to allow them to fail, because I think it’s important to risk. If you don’t risk, then what’s the point? You’re not pushing forward. So I think those are all things that would describe the way I manage, and I think the way I’ve led in the business.

INTERVIEWER: How thick is the glass on the glass ceiling, and was it thicker before, thinner now, and do you ever see a time when there isn’t going to be a glass ceiling?

KOPLOVITZ: I think that it was much thicker before. If you’re talking about 20-25 years ago in the business–and it’s not just this business. It’s in every business. Women really weren’t expected to have leadership roles, not expected to be CEOs, not expected to be COOs, not expected to be managers of cable systems. It was just like women in other professions. We’re not expected to be doctors. We’re expected to be nurses. Nothing wrong with being a nurse, it was just that they were expected to be nurses. I think that there’s a great deal of change that has occurred in the market place. I think that there are many more women in the pipeline, and I think it does take the pipeline to be filled up with choices. And I think women have got to want it. You’ve got to demonstrate that you want the CEO job. You want the corner office. You want the responsibilities, and you’re worthy of accepting them. And you’ve got to prove it. Now, it’s taken some number of enlightened men along the way to recognize that women are really excellent peers in business and that they’re a good choice. I sit on a number of corporate boards and I know in those corporations that a woman CEO is not going to be elected until the board members feel comfortable standing up in public and saying, we have found the best person for this job, and the best person we have found is a woman. And until that happens, there will be fewer women CEOs. But I think there are more in the pipeline, and I think that another ten years will make a big difference. I think you’re really now in the last–I have seen a considerable change in the last two years, and while it’s not perfect, I think that there are more women in larger corporations. You have an Ann Livermore at Hewlett-Packard who’s really… I’m sure the next CEO of Colgate will be a woman. I think that there are a number of women in AT&T that head large divisions, or at Lucent, both those companies. There are really some interesting dynamics going on in our business and in other businesses. And I think ten years more will make a difference. These things never go quickly enough if it’s in your time. If you’re like me, you want it to happen much more quickly. You want it to happen in your time, and you see no reason why it shouldn’t. But it takes it takes mass. It takes enough choice. It takes enough in the pipeline. It takes enough support. It takes enough women to have demonstrated their worthiness, and I’ll be very disappointed if the landscape hasn’t changed in the next ten years considerably.

INTERVIEWER: Based on any tangible measure whether it’s equal access to pay, opportunities, jobs at the top, in the board rooms, or access to equity or capital markets, how long do you think that’s going to take based on the acceleration you just talked about?

KOPLOVITZ: To achieve parity?


KOPLOVITZ: Those who aren’t women (laughs). To achieve parity will probably take longer than ten years. It’s an evolution, a cultural evolution that I think is taking place, but I still think it will be imperfect. But if you look at the number of women attending medical school compared to men, the number of women attending law school compared to men–actually the number of women attending business school has dropped in the last five years. But in these other two areas, it has excelled. The number of women in the pipeline in large business as well as entrepreneurial business has changed so dramatically that I think there will be significant changes in the next ten years.

INTERVIEWER: Are there certain parallels you see between Silicon Valley today and the cable industry when it was first starting up?

KOPLOVITZ: Very few. I see very few similarities between Silicon Valley and cable television. I see very few similarities between Silicon Valley today and the cable industry when it was first starting up in the early ’70s–well, it pre-dates that, but the modern era of cable television. And that is because in the early ’70s, and throughout the ’70s, and even the early ’80s, there was very little belief throughout the industry that these businesses would really be the success they are today. There was no way to finance it. I see very little similarity between the Silicon Valley today, and the early start-up in the cable television industry, the modern era back in the ’70s. And that is because the economic environment is extremely different. Today money is plentiful. Equity is the currency of the realm. Any smart idea could attract an investor, and in the early ’70s, first of all, it was a recessionary time in America. There was no backing for cash flow businesses like this. There was no understanding of what the business really could be, and there certainly was no belief in funding it. So while the ideas were similar, and some of the creative ideas have some similarities to them, the fundamental business is very, very different. The opportunities today are extremely more robust, more financeable, and more possible to launch than they were back in the early ’70s.

INTERVIEWER: Are you satisfied with the progress that’s been made over the last 20 years?

KOPLOVITZ: The progress in what regard?

INTERVIEWER: In terms of opportunities for women getting closer to a place where there’s more parity or equity.

KOPLOVITZ: I don’t think there’ll ever be real parity until women hold more equity positions in the businesses. And I think that’s a revolutionary process as well. I really believe that women were never in that part of the business before, only recently do you see women in the finance sector that are financing our businesses. And while you find some female CFOs in companies, I think there was very little knowledge base within the women who are even running aspects of business to be in the equity markets. That has to change before you get real parity, I think, because you have to know how to play that game. You have to get into that game in order to really have the equity positions. So that’s what’s really going to change it, and we’re a few steps away from having that happen. But that’s what has to occur.

INTERVIEWER: Cable underwent last year sort of what we’re talking about this year, and that’s this retrospective look at where we’ve come. And over that time, do you think women have been adequately recognized for the contributions they’ve made to this industry?

KOPLOVITZ: It’s hard to tell if women have been adequately recognized. I think there’s a lot of recognition of the contribution that women have made at certain levels in the industry. There certainly has been a fair amount of recognition for women on the programming side of the business. I think that there still is probably a preponderance of the recognition goes to males who tend to be the bosses and run the companies, and the same people have been in those roles for a long time. I think for the first time, we’re seeing a change now with the mega mergers in the business, and new players coming in that a lot of people who have been in the business for 25-30 years starting to segue out and you’re seeing a change over. And change always offers opportunity, and I think it’s a great opportunity for women to step forward. And I hope women will. I hope women in the industry will step up and say, now I want my shot at that job. Because I think it’s important to let people know that you aspire, whether you aspire to ownership, whether you aspire to higher management positions–you have to promote yourself. I think as a group, women are less self-promoting. And I think that’s probably hurt women as a rule, and I think we have to learn that technique.

INTERVIEWER: People often describe this industry as having two sides, the delivery side and content side. And on the content, or programmer side, there is preponderance of women who are heads of these companies who are in positions of leadership and decision making. Do you think the fact that there are women on that side of industry–does it give it a unique landscape or a certain tilt, because women bring something unique to that part of the industry?

KOPLOVITZ: On the content side of the industry?

INTERVIEWER: Maybe even impacting on the much greater industry.

KOPLOVITZ: I think it does. I think women are earning their stripes in the industry, probably more on the content side than the technical side, for sure today. But I think there has been recognition of those women who have made contributions, and maybe a little bit more sensitivity to how the business is run, and how we should conduct the business, how we should market the business. A greater understanding of the consumer market place. I think these are all attributes that women are bringing to the business. So I think in the larger picture, I think eventually affect the way business is conducted. It’ll be, I think, a continuously more open market place. I would hope it would be the same thing for minorities as it is for women, because this industry offers wonderful opportunities for minorities. We have large minority markets to be marketed too, and I don’t mean to segment minorities to marketing–to minority markets at all. I’m just saying that I think it brings–I think diversity brings great strength. I think it’s not good to have everybody in the company of the same mind, and of the same background. I always tried to get diversity at USA. I think you get a better understanding of what the true market place of the consumers is out there, because it is a very diverse market place. And it’s going to continue to be a more diverse market place than it has ever been before. And I think unless we understand some of those differences clearly, we’re going to hurt our own business growth pattern. So we need that diversity.

INTERVIEWER: You, as much as anybody else understand this is an industry that’s terribly demanding. And as young people are coming out of school, deciding where to go with their career, are there any things you would tell young people as they’re deciding on a career about this industry, specifically? About the ability to balance your professional and personal life?

KOPLOVITZ: I think it’s a wonderful industry, and I think it’s up to the individual to find the balance. And I’ve got to tell you that I’ve been involved in other industries, the software industry is even more aggressive than this one. Every day’s a battle plan to execute in the software industry. And I’ve seen other industries. I look at supermarkets entirely differently being on the board of Nabisco because I see a war in every aisle. So we are not the only business that is demanding on its workers. I think as managers in business, in general, whether it’s ours or others, I think we have to learn to have people be able to work and be productive in environments that also allow them to be human beings. And if we want women in the workforce, and we need qualified women in this workforce to keep pushing our productivity and our business models in America, it’s essential, then I think we have to learn to allow people to work in a fashion that also allows them to have a life outside of work and we have to accept that as part of the workplace for men, as well as for women.

INTERVIEWER: Looking back on the time when you’ve been involved in the organization, can you pick out one thing or even a number of things that you feel are WICT’s greatest achievements?

KOPLOVITZ: Going back to the founding days of WICT, I think that it was a struggle in the beginning to understand–there were so few women. I think there were 12 of us in the early meetings. It was not a very big number. We struggled with, what would our role be? What we could create for women coming into the business to make women welcome, productive, and successful? And I felt very strongly then, and I do now that contributing to the overall growth of the industry is the most important contribution we could make. Therefore, I think that where we started the management seminars, that was with the idea that many women were in highly defined jobs in the industry, and got almost no exposure to general management. No exposure to any other division of their company, and, therefore, would have no possibility of progressing into general management unless they gained those skills. So we thought that the best thing we could do was to be able to educate women on broader management skills and skill sets. And if we did a good job of that, that women would be better contributors to the growth of the industry and hopefully, also experience personal growth. I think that, in my view, the management seminars, overall, consistently year and year out, have provided that tool for women that, in those days, did not get from companies. I think today the larger corporations do have educational and training programs, and I think they’re open to women as well as men. And I think in large part that has to do with the contributions of the WICT management seminars, and to me that’s been the greatest contribution.

INTERVIEWER: Thinking back to the year that you were president, what was the most memorable event during that year for you?

KOPLOVITZ: It’s a really good question. It’s sort of all a blur to me at the early years. I wish I could say just one thing was the most memorable event, but there was such an excitement at that time in the industry. And it was really high energy, and high growth, and we were just trying to be as, I think, contributory to the growth of the business and really looking at ways to participate and include ourselves and our companies. There were just many things that we did that I thought were useful and helpful. From a professional standpoint, I think we’ve come a long way since those early days.

INTERVIEWER: You had talked a little bit about professional growth, and the role that WICT plays in that. And we tell our volunteer leaders that part of the professional growth that comes as part of being a member of WICT is the participatory portion of being a volunteer leader. Looking back, were there certain things you learned from your role as a volunteer leader that you may use today?

KOPLOVITZ: I think the aspect of volunteer leader that has the mentoring aspects to it is really–is much–I think that the leader gets as much out of it as the people that you’re mentoring and bringing up, because I think it’s the interchange and the sharing of what you’ve learned and how you can provide that learning curve for somebody else and help guide them through it. And, hopefully, help them get through it more quickly than perhaps normal on the job training would provide. I just think it’s a two-way street that is really beneficial to both people.

INTERVIEWER: What initially inspired you to become involved in WICT?

KOPLOVITZ: There were very few women in the business when I entered the business. Those of us who were here then really wanted to try to do something to, not only contribute to the business, but help ourselves learn. We were sort of a self-help program in a lot of ways. We were looking for ways to grow faster, and learn more quickly about the business. And so I really think that that, to me, is how I remember the early days of the organization, one which was really meant to bring together women, talk about some of the network, somewhat, because we were in different parts of the country and we didn’t get a chance to see each other that often except maybe at conventions. And to really just kind of share our experiences to network, and then to figure out how we could help each other grow more quickly.

INTERVIEWER: How was the organization received by the industry back when you were all starting out?

KOPLOVITZ: I think it was basically ignored by the industry. I mean, let’s face it, it was 12 women (laughs), 20 women. There weren’t very many people. It didn’t have any significance other than to those of us who were participants, in my view. It took awhile to build an organization that had some significance. And I think that it has gotten a lot of participation from all the members of the industry in our programs, and in coming to be speakers at the local chapters, and really–I think it gained in prominence tremendously since the early days. And I think today it is one of the most solid contributors to the learning curve in the industry.

INTERVIEWER: Can you think of even a set of very dramatic differences in the industry today, and comparing it to the industry in the past that WICT has had an impact on changing?

KOPLOVITZ: I think WICT is having an impact on the attitude toward women in management roles as contributors to the industry. I really definitely think there’s been a change there. I think there’s been some impact inside companies, in terms of employee benefits, and looking at more flexible benefits for women, especially child-bearing women. I think this is really important. We have to understand people as human beings, and I think there has been some impact on particularly the larger companies in terms of the needs of women in the market place.

INTERVIEWER: WICT has evolved over the past 20 years.

KOPLOVITZ: Tremendously. It has had a big evolution, I think.

INTERVIEWER: Going forward, how do you see the organization needing to evolve? Do you ever see a time in which an organization like WICT isn’t going to be necessary anymore?

KOPLOVITZ: Well, it was one of our goals when we started the organization that we would dissolve it. And I think it would still be a goal to dissolve it. Sometimes I have wondered why men don’t start organizations. There was that one time, Men in Chains or whatever (laughs). We had sort of a parity of it, you know, in the industry, and I think it’s because women still feel they haven’t achieved parity. That they need to encourage one another, and it’s sort of like, all these women’s organizations–I’ve been involved in many women’s organizations throughout my career, both in and outside the industry, and now the chair of the National Women’s Business Council which is a presidential appointment, and I do it because I really want to give something back. I want to be able to encourage women to move up the food chain, and to really reach out for higher goals. And I guess there must still be a need to do that, because these organizations exist. And it is, you know, by and larger, they’re support organizations. To support the education, the progression, the issues that women have in the market place. You can take some of the less popular issues, perhaps, like harassment, sexual harassment in the market place which we’ve had to purge the industry of. There always will be some I suppose, but I think there’s a much more enlightened attitude toward that today because women’s organizations have brought the issues to light. And I think there are changes in the business because there were women’s issues, and we have been listened to. So I think until we resolve those issues completely, there probably will always be a need for these organizations. And I also think to give women the recognition. These organizations are very instrumental in driving recognition for women who have made contributions. And I think that’s important. Going back to a comment I made before, I think that women are less likely to stand up and applaud themselves, to praise themselves, to promote themselves than men are. Maybe it’s just the nature of women in general. I’m not saying for any individual, but I think the organizations like WICT really help in this regard, help the promotion and recognition of women.

INTERVIEWER: I’m sure you thought about what we were going to ask you, and you may have imagined what questions we might have asked. Are there any of those questions that we’ve not asked you, and you’d like to answer rhetorically?

KOPLOVITZ: I think one of the best attributes to have, or one of the best aids in really being successful in business is to have a sense of humor about it. Because I find humor gets you through a lot of the tough times, and it’s good to be able to laugh at yourself and to have a good time. And after all, one has to remember through all of this that life is really to live. That’s the purpose of being here, and business is great. And we have our struggles, and we have our competitors, but it’s really the joy of being able to get up everyday, and be in a field that you love, competing against people that you love to compete against; working with people that you love to work with. It’s a great blessing, and I think this is a terrific industry to offer people with ambition, and creativity, and some vision of where they want to go. It’s a great industry to be in, and I think that every day it’s just a pleasure to wake up and have fun doing it, and have a little sense of humor about how we’re going about it.

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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