Viacom Makes Working Mothers’ Best Companies List for Seventh Year – 12 Moms Help Explain Why

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

For the seventh consecutive year, Working Mother has named Viacom to its list of 100 Best Companies. The reasons why Viacom is a great place to be a mom are plentiful, including:

  • 10 paid weeks of maternity leave
  • $15,000 in assistance for anyone adopting or fostering a child, or using a surrogate
  • A fertility concierge service that connects employees to patient advocates, nurses, genetic counselors, and surrogacy and donor specialists
  • 25 days of subsidized care-giving for children (or adults) per year
  • Access to lactation experts
  • The ability to ship breast milk home from business trips

But the best people to explain why Viacom so consistently makes Working Mother’s list is the moms themselves. We asked a dozen of them why this company was such a great destination for women who don’t want to have to choose between family and career:

Helen Adair, Learning & Development – 

“Viacom allows me the flexibility to have a rewarding career while balancing my family commitments with two children. I also appreciate The Parenthood – our employee resource group for working parents that offers educational sessions and resources for parents, fun events and chances to connect with fellow working parents. And my kids absolutely love coming to the Paramount Lot for movie screenings and the Annual Tree Lighting celebration. I love that they are so excited to visit my workplace.”

Adair and family at last year’s Christmas tree lighting on the Paramount Lot.

Lydia Daly, Social Media/Marketing, Viacom Velocity –

“I knew that Viacom was a great company for working moms on the day I returned to work after having my first baby (our second is due any day!). It’s a very emotional and sad day in many senses and yet I found I was surrounded by women who had been through this before and were able to provide support and reassurance. Family definitely comes first here and you can feel it.”

Daly and her family.

Joelle Fleming, Pricing and Inventory, BET –

“I received a call at work from my husband that we were selected as the pre-adoptive parents for two small children – and we had to pick them up that day.  I left the office, no questions asked, with the full support of my team and Viacom. The children have since been legally adopted, and we could not be more thrilled!”

Fleming with her family: John, Amber, Matty, Nikki, and Abby.

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Viacom Signs Historic Legal Petition Defending LGBT Rights

No one deserves to be fired for their sexual orientation.

This is the logic behind Viacom and 49 other companies’ decision to sign a formal legal petition asking the U.S. 2nd  Court of Appeals to extend a federal law prohibiting employers from firing workers for being gay. This is the first time businesses have explicitly taken this position, according to Freedom for All Americans, a bipartisan campaign group that Viacom consulted with on this issue.

“All Americans deserve the right to go to work and provide for their families without having to fear that they might lose their job simply because of who they are,” said Freedom for All Americans Acting CEO Katie Belanger in an email to Viacom.

“Unfortunately, most states do not have laws explicitly prohibiting employment discrimination against LGBT individuals. That is why this case is so important. We are grateful for the leadership of Viacom and the 49 other businesses who have called on the court to ensure the fair and equal treatment of gay and bisexual employees,” said Belanger.

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FBI Legend to Lead Viacom’s Global Security Operations

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom’s global footprint is massive. A 53-story headquarters embedded in New York City’s Times Square anchors an office network spread across dozens of countries. We host a constant stream of more than 200 annual high-profile events, such as last month’s Bellator MMA fights at Madison Square Garden and the BET Awards at L.A.’s Microsoft Theater. Threaded among these offices and events is our thousands of employees and guests.

Fernandez, via LinkedIn.

Such a huge presence requires robust security, which is why Viacom has hired FBI legend Carlos T. Fernandez as our new Global Chief Security Officer, leading all security teams at Viacom events and facilities around the world.

“Carlos is a highly decorated security and intelligence expert who is widely recognized for his exceptional leadership, planning and problem-solving abilities,” wrote Viacom Chief Administrative Officer Scott Mills in a memo to employees last week.

Fernandez most recently led counterterrorism operations at the FBI’s New York field office, as well as the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, an approximately 500-person unit sculpted from local and federal agencies to investigate cases from Canada to Europe to Africa, according to The New York Times. He has participated in some of the most high-profile investigations of the past two decades, including the bombings of the USS Cole and American embassies in East Africa, the assault on the U.S.’ Benghazi diplomatic compound, and the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks.

A Times profile last week outlined how Fernandez repaired frayed relationships between his agency and local law enforcement in New York through constant communication, coordination and information-sharing. Critically for someone about to enter a large, diverse, employee-centered corporation, he understands how to work with people.

“You can have all the memorandums of understanding in the world, and they really don’t mean anything if people don’t like you,” Don Borelli, a former counterterrorism special agent, told the Times, explaining how Fernandez worked inexhaustibly alongside his police department counterparts to unify the NYPD and FBI following last year’s bomb attack in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Fernandez, a New York City native, will start at Viacom later this month.

Challenge Accepted: Team Viacom Once Again Races Through J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

From the north-facing upper floors of Viacom’s headquarters at 1515 Broadway, you can see Central Park nested amid the urban thrum, a luxuriant stretch of water and trees that allows an escape from Manhattan without leaving it. It’s about as opposite the frenetic everlasting chaos and concrete of Times Square as a piece of the city could hope to get.

Which makes it an ideal place for Viacom employees to gather outside of the office for a little fun and exercise. On a pleasant evening in early June, a team of 140 marshalled in one of the park’s meadows to do exactly that. They joined more than 30,000 racers from 709 companies who, over the course of two days, huffed through the 3.5-mile J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge run.

One hundred forty Viacom Employees ran the 2017 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Manhattan’s Central Park.

Ross McGraw, a director in Nick Partnerships, finished first among Viacom employees (and 15th overall), with a time of 18:44. He was followed in the men’s category by Ned Wagner (22:17), Jack Cogan (22:41), and Billy Devletoglu (24:01).

McGraw, who has completed the Corporate Challenge many times with both Viacom and a previous employer, MKTG, was on familiar turf – he lives on the Upper West Side, which is adjacent to Central Park, and he runs there often. He is also a committed athlete. A veteran of NYU’s track and cross country teams and a Team USA triathlete, he finished second in the nation in his age group (and fifth overall) at the Duathlon National Championships in Bend, Oregon last weekend. He won the Hammonton Triathlon in New Jersey last month

To keep in shape, McGraw runs, bikes or swims for an hour and a half each morning and evening. He looks forward to the Corporate Challenge as a part of his training regimen. “It’s local, it’s fun, it’s one of the few times I get to do something that represents the company versus just my own interests,” he said.

“I think it’s really cool that Viacom hosts this for employees,” McGraw, a director of partner marketing for new business at Nickelodeon, continued. “In Nickelodeon partner marketing, we do a lot of programs that focus on getting kids out and being active and I think it’s important to practice what you preach, and so I think it’s important to get out and show people that we also do that. We’re an active company and we get out and play ourselves, to some extent.”

Ross McGraw, left, finished 15th in the Corporate Challenge overall and was the top finisher among Viacom men with a time of 18:44. Katherine Howley, right, was tops among Viacom women with a time of 23:43.

Among the Viacom women, first-time Corporate Challenge participant Katie Howley (23:43) was the top finisher, followed by Erica Martin (26:24), Candice Brancazio (28:05), and Shannon Maguire (29:50).

“I thought this would be a great opportunity to hang out with my coworkers and represent Viacom,” Howley, a social media manager for Velocity International, said. “I think it’s nice that Viacom cares about us not only as people who can produce work, but as people who live a well-balanced lifestyle and care about their personal fitness.”

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MyViacommunity Stories: Fostering Hope, By Design

We caught up with Katie Dominguez, senior art director at TV Land, to talk about her volunteer work through Viacom’s pro-social branch, Viacommunity.

Eli Musser: How do you volunteer? What are you involved with?

Katie Dominguez: I’ve volunteered for a few different organizations through Viacom’s skills-based Talent for Good program, donating design and branding services. One organization is Graham Windham, a foster care agency in New York City that also offers schooling, health care centers and after-school programs. Another organization is called Integrate, and they provide services for those with autism who have gone to college and can’t land jobs. They also educate companies about autism and offer recruitment to help candidates with autism.

EM: How do you feel when you’re volunteering?

KD: I take it as a serious job. I always give 100 percent when I’m doing my work, so when I’m volunteering, even though I’m not getting paid for it, I’m definitely trying to do the best job I possibly can. At the end of the day, I’m just glad that I can help give my services to something that’s worthwhile.

EM: How do you feel about Viacommunity’s presence at Viacom?

KD: I think it’s great. I’ve been taking full advantage of it. Being able to share your skill sets is really nice. I think it’s great that Viacom has this opportunity for people to get out there and give back. I hope a lot of people do it and continue to do it. I think it makes Viacom a better company because it enriches their talent and provides a great service.

Viacom Explores August Wilson’s Pittsburgh with Broadway Cast of Jitney

In January 2017, the late August Wilson’s play Jitney made its Broadway debut. A period piece set in the late 1970s, the play is about gypsy cab drivers in an African-American Pittsburgh neighborhood. Despite the city’s economic slump, these drivers are thriving and making an honest living—all because regular cabs at the time did not want to service black neighborhoods.

Like Fences—Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning play that evolved into Paramount’s Oscar-winning smashJitney provides an authentic portrayal of the African-American experience in a particular time and place. The characters are flawed, embroiled in racial tensions and poverty, yet their humanity shines through.

Jitney is part of Wilson’s Century Cycle, a collection of 10 plays set in historically African-American neighborhoods in Pittsburgh and Chicago throughout each decade of the 20th century.

To celebrate Black History Month, The BEAT (Viacom’s employee resource group focused on the African-American experience) hosted a panel discussion at Viacom’s Times Square headquarters with five Jitney cast members.

View the slideshow:

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Snoop Dogg, Flo Rida Introduce Airy New Hollywood Home for Eight Viacom Brands

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom’s new West Coast headquarters opened last night in a raucous cascade of music and optimism, uniting the creative forces of eight major brands in a soaring, aspirational space at the heart of Hollywood.

“This new Hollywood facility reinforces our presence in the world’s entertainment capital, connecting us more deeply with the creative community and bringing inspiration for our employees, who help us deliver world-class entertainment and unforgettable stories to our audiences every day,” said Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish. “We wanted to create a space that encourages collaboration, creativity and innovation, and gives creators and employees the tools they need to do their best work.”

Bakish shared a huge stage at the launch party, addressing hundreds of employees between performances by Flo Rida and Snoop Dogg (posing as DJ Snoopadelic), star of VH1’s hit Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party and executive producer of MTV’s Mary + Jane. Deadline, Hollywood Reporter and Variety all posted vivid dispatches of the wild outdoor scene.

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: A general view of atmosphere during the Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening on January 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Viacom) Read More

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Guests attend the Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening on January 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Viacom) Read More

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Shari Redstone, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Viacom, Inc attends the Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening on January 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Viacom) Read More

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Rapper Snoop Dogg performs at the Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening on January 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Viacom) Read More

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Rapper Flo Rida performs at the Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening on January 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Viacom) Read More

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Atmosphere at the Viacom Hollywood office grand opening on January 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Maury Phillips/Getty Images for Viacom) Read More

Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Viacom Hollywood Office Grand Opening
Stuart Stuart

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: (L-R) Rapper Flo Rida, Viacom Vice-Chairwoman Shari Redstone, Director and Cheif Liason Mayor's Office of Film and Television Production Kevin James and Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish attend Viacom Hollywood Offic… Read More

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History Echoes and Present Zooms at Nick’s New Burbank Studio

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

In a rousing ribbon-cutting attended by Viacom executives and the real-life embodiments of SpongeBob and Squidward, Nickelodeon opened a vast expansion of its Burbank studio earlier this month, planting a modern and well-appointed workspace for 700 employees at the heart of one of the world’s entertainment capitals.

“The opening of our new offices in Burbank is a significant moment for Nickelodeon,” said Nickelodeon Group President Cyma Zarghami. “We are ushering in a new era of creative excellence and increased collaboration for everyone who works here. Since we first planted our flag on the West Coast in the early ‘90s, Nickelodeon in Burbank has been a beacon to the creative community, and our new complex now signals our increased commitment to giving our creators and employees the very best environment and resources to be successful.”

(L-R) Actor Benjamin Flores Jr. from Game Shakers, voice of SpongeBob SquarePants Tom Kenny, Mayor of Burbank Jess Talamantes, President of Nickelodeon Cyma Zarghami, President and CEO of Viacom Inc. Robert Bakish, Vice Chair of the Board Shari Redstone, voice of Patrick Star Bill Fagerbakke, and actor Cree Cicchino from Game Shakers attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the Grand Opening of Nickelodeon's State-of-the-Art Complex on January 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

(L-R) Actor Benjamin Flores Jr. from Game Shakers, voice of SpongeBob SquarePants Tom Kenny, Mayor of Burbank Jess Talamantes, President of Nickelodeon Cyma Zarghami, President and CEO of Viacom Inc. Robert Bakish, Vice Chair of the Board Shari Redstone, voice of Patrick Star Bill Fagerbakke, and actor Cree Cicchino from Game Shakers attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the Grand Opening of Nickelodeon’s State-of-the-Art Complex on January 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

The more-than 200,000-square-foot space expands upon Nick’s adjacent legacy studio with room to host more than 20 show productions, including smash hits The Loud House, SpongeBob SquarePants and Shimmer and Shine.

The building distills the essence of Nick’s kid-centric brand into a grown-up workspace dotted with customizable work stations and ample collaborative spaces. Archival libraries warehouse the brand’s deep well of iconic work, while rotating galleries showcase the best of contemporary artists’ efforts from both inside and outside of the company. Threaded throughout the five-story space is an 88-seat screening room, voiceover studios, a café, and rooms dedicated to fitness, music and gaming.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony To Celebrate Grand Opening…
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony To Celebrate Grand Opening…
Stuart Stuart

attends the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the Grand Opening of Nickelodeon's State-of-the-Art… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Stuart Stuart

Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Burbank, CA. Photo: Bruce Damonte/NICKELODEON© 2016 Viacom Internation… Read More

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Four Viacom Overachievers Make Cablefax List of Young Talent

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Cablefax recently laid out their annual tally of 100 Overachievers Under 30, and four Viacom employees made the list. This is a diverse and capable group. They line up social talent for marketing campaigns. They manage sprawling networks of digital and social channels. They coordinate programming strategies across linear and digital channels. They create custom co-branded campaigns for partners and networks.

And they are just getting started.

While they work across many of our networks and divisions – Epix, CMT, TV Land, and our Velocity in-house agency are all represented – a common thread of their workday seems to be the freedom to pursue creative solutions to novel challenges.

“I love the variety of campaigns I get to work on and the creative freedom I have to make each of them unique,” says Julie Feinerman, social media manager at Epix.

Each of the honorees was “excited,” “surprised,” “thrilled,” or “honored” to make the list, while pointing to the guidance of role models who helped them develop the work ethic and grit to achieve career success.

“My first boss at MTV, Jessica Zalkind, continues to be a mentor and #ladyboss that I admire,” says Lauren Elias, a social talent coordinator for Viacom Velocity. “She taught me that hard work, and going beyond just getting the job done are keys to success.”

In addition to Feinerman and Zalkind, CMT’s Kate Warburton and Velocity’s Brian O’Toole also represent Viacom on the annual Cablefax list. They will be honored at a reception later this month. Scroll down to learn a bit more about each of these Viacom standouts.

Young Viacom talent frequently makes these industry lists, with several, including Elias, making Cynopsis’ Rising Stars roster earlier this year. Cablefax frequently mines the company’s deep talent pool when it sorts out the best in the industry, including its recent lists of top minorities and most powerful women in cable.

LAUREN ELIAS, SOCIAL TALENT COORDINATOR, VIACOM VELOCITY

Lauren EliasTenure: 4 years

What she does: Discovers, casts, and manages social talent for Velocity projects, integrated marketing campaigns, and more

What she loves most about her job at Viacom: I love discovering new talent that our brand partners and network executive are excited about.

Her reaction when she found out she was named as a Cablefax Overachiever: I was super excited. It was all the more reason to continue working hard toward my career goals.

What she is most looking forward to about the networking reception on Dec. 14: Meeting like-minded colleagues who feel proud about their work.

Can you point to a mentor or role model who helped you achieve success so young? My first boss at MTV, Jessica Zalkind, who continues to be a mentor and #ladyboss that I admire.

What specific advice did they give you that stuck with you? She taught me that hard work, and going beyond just “getting the job done” are keys to success. I also have to thank my current boss, Tom DeNapoli, who always supports me, always trusts me, always champions me, and always teaches me.

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Nick’s Sarah Landy’s Bottom Line: Helping the Under-Served Find Their Way in Higher Education

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Sarah Landy has had a pretty great career so far.

Straight out of Skidmore College, she interned and assisted at Nickelodeon during the nascent days of the now-iconic Blues Clues, Several divisions and promotions later, she is vice president of preschool production and development, regularly flying out to collaborate with Nick’s animation teams in LA and partnering with production companies in Toronto, Vancouver and Dublin. The smash hit Blaze and the Monster Machines and the upcoming animated Butterbean’s Café are two shows she oversees as executive in charge.

As with any successful career, however, it began somewhere. And Landy traces that somewhere back to a network of counselors, relatives and mentors who supported her from a young age. Her parents set a life framework that all but guaranteed she would attend college. A sequence of advisors led her to choose Skidmore through an immersive college application and selection process. A college professor connected her with Dr. Alice Wilder, one of the head researchers behind Blues Clues and the person who helped Landy score her first internship.

Landy, left, with Alice Wilder, one of the head researchers behind Nickelodeon's hit show, Blues Clues.

Landy, left, with Alice Wilder, one of the head researchers behind Nickelodeon’s hit show, “Blues Clues.” Photo courtesy of Sarah Landy.

“I realize I had a lot of help along the way identifying what would be a good fit, guiding me through the application process, encouraging me to go visit – and I can’t imagine my life without it,” Landy recalls.

Unfortunately, not everyone receives such robust support. So when Bottom Line, an organization that helps low-income first-generation students get into and graduate from college, arrived in New York City from Boston five years ago, Landy knew immediately that she had found her cause.

“I have a passion for students and equal opportunity, and it felt like a really good match,” she said.

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