Drink, Dance, Donate: How Viacom Gave Back and Got Down for the 8th Year in a Row

“Everyone on the left side of the room say, ‘Give back,’” shouted Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish, addressing a constellation of nearly 200 Viacom employees and nonprofit partners, all gathered in the White Box at Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters one evening in early December.

Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish rallies the crowd at Give Back & Get Down VIII during his opening statements. Photo by Emil Cohen.

“Give back,” the crowd roared.

“Now everybody on the right side of the room say, “Get down!’”

“Get down!’”

After this rhapsodic rallying cry, Bakish began his opening remarks for our eighth annual gala of goodwill: Give Back & Get Down.

“Every year, Give Back and Get Down reminds us to celebrate the qualities that embody the Viacom spirit: empathy and engagement for the communities in which we serve,” said Bakish, applauding our Office of Global Inclusion (OGI), Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and Corporate Social Responsibility (Viacommunity) department for their concerted efforts in organizing such a festive and fruitful event.

Read More

For One Tech Intern, Viacom’s Experience Room Stands Out

The psychedelic animated VR world of “Chocolate,” an experience created for the song of the same name by San Francisco based musician Giraffage. Created by 3D animator Tyler Hurd and executive produced by Viacom NEXT.

Viacom’s global headquarters at 1515 Broadway shoots 53 floors out of the endless hustle of Times Square. Even amid all this frenetic energy, though, one part of the building really stood out to me as a Media and Technology Services (MTS) Finance intern: the Experience Room.

Situated amid the MTS teams on the 11th floor, the room hosts an ever-updated showcase of the new and emerging technologies that Viacom is exploring, developing, and strategizing to promote MTV, Nickelodeon and other brands. The room doubles as an incubator for Viacom engineers developing products and a fun, engaging place for other employees to experience them.

The room feels futuristic – it is outfitted with integrated smart assistance and voice-activated lighting. One of the gadgets I found particularly fascinating was a voice-activated smart wall mirror, which provides weather information, displays the time, takes notes, and even compliments you.

A section of the room is a mini-museum, outfitted with a chronologically arranged line of devices ranging from a flip phone to Microsoft’s “Hololens” – a headpiece that projects holographic images.

Viacom engineers rotate into the room to work on new technologies, join an existing project, or develop new ideas using the room’s resources. One rotating engineer is at work on a SpongeBob SquarePants robot. The prototype can move around and interact with kids. The engineer would like to equip it with enough information that it can be used as a source of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education for children.

The engineering team is also working on a smart photo booth that can transform its background, factoring in different color combinations and even the type of clothes people are wearing.

The highlight of my time in this space was playing a pair of Viacom NEXT’s Virtual Reality (VR) games: one where I smashed things to collect points in a ring within a simulated Experience Room; a second where I immersed myself within the first ever VR music album with The Melody of Dust, which had such an incredible level of optimization and features embedded within it that I felt as if I were physically in a different world altogether.

The Experience Room now has open hours where employees experience what the team is working on: Wednesdays from 2:30 to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. I hope you’ll visit the 11th floor to enjoy this amazing space and draw inspiration from the way that Viacom is developing its present and shaping its future.

Jaw Dropped: Viacom Makes Glassdoor’s List of Spectacular Offices

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Leaving the chaos of Times Square and pushing through the revolving doors into the award-winning lobby of Viacom’s headquarters at 1515 Broadway, it’s obvious you’re entering a place where entertainment is made. Batteries of televisions line the walls. A pair of supersized monitors pounds through highlights and previews of major television and movie properties. At the end of the elevator banks, supersized, vertically oriented glass shutter doors blink through updates of what’s happening all around the company. Through those doors is a cavernous event space. To the right is a humming, bright cafe.

Blades 1
Blades 1
Stuart Stuart
Blades 2
Blades 2
Stuart Stuart
Lobby 1
Lobby 1
Stuart Stuart
Lobby Screens 1
Lobby Screens 1
Stuart Stuart
Lobby Screens 2
Lobby Screens 2
Stuart Stuart
Lobby Screens 3
Lobby Screens 3
Stuart Stuart
White Box 1
White Box 1
Stuart Stuart
White Box 2
White Box 2
Stuart Stuart
White Box 3
White Box 3
Stuart Stuart
White Box 4
White Box 4
Stuart Stuart

It’s design-first environments such as this lobby that helped Viacom make Glassdoor’s list of 16 companies with “jaw-dropping offices.” It’s a workspace, Glassdoor says, that is, “truly fit for the stars.” And these spaces reflect a company ethos that prizes environments tailored to accommodate the sort of high-octane creative work that is our lifeblood.

“The editors at Glassdoor are experts on workplace culture so it’s an honor to be included on this list,” says Vice President of Planning & Design Yetta Banks. “Beyond creating a pretty place to work, the goal for this project has always been to create spaces that encourage creativity, collaboration and play. Viacom is all about driving culture and conversation and it’s important that this mission is reflected in the way that we work.”

The gradual upgrades to Viacom’s offices have been ongoing for some time, and reach well beyond our New York City headquarters. In recent years, the company opened an 88,000-square-foot Viacom International production studio in Miami:

CE9A9714
CE9A9714
Stuart Stuart
CE9A9734
CE9A9734
Stuart Stuart
CE9A9735
CE9A9735
Stuart Stuart
CE9A9748
CE9A9748
Stuart Stuart
CE9A9750
CE9A9750
Stuart Stuart
CE9A9756
CE9A9756
Stuart Stuart
CE9A9762
CE9A9762
Stuart Stuart
CE9A9823
CE9A9823
Stuart Stuart
CE9A9838
CE9A9838
Stuart Stuart
CE9A9865
CE9A9865
Stuart Stuart
CE9A9913
CE9A9913
Stuart Stuart
CE9A9923
CE9A9923
Stuart Stuart

… massively expanded its Nick animation studio in Burbank:

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

… and opened a new eight-brand West Coast headquarters in the bustle of Hollywood:

c_2380_0001
c_2380_0001
Stuart Stuart
c_2380_0002
c_2380_0002
Stuart Stuart
c_2380_0003
c_2380_0003
Stuart Stuart
c_2380_0004
c_2380_0004
Stuart Stuart
c_2380_0005
c_2380_0005
Stuart Stuart
c_2380_0006
c_2380_0006
Stuart Stuart
c_2380_0007
c_2380_0007
Stuart Stuart
c_2380_0008
c_2380_0008
Stuart Stuart
c_2380_0010
c_2380_0010
Stuart Stuart

Read More

Viacommunity Takes Talent for Good West

Last month, Viacommunity journeyed to Viacom’s Hollywood office, the Paramount Lot and the Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank as part of an official West Coast launch of Talent for Good, Viacom’s skills-based volunteer program in conjunction with Catchafire.

The program kicked off with an exclusive Rapid Fire event in Hollywood. We matched five teams of Viacom and Paramount volunteers with one of five local nonprofit organizations to take part in a two-hour brainstorm, exploring solutions to each nonprofit’s challenges. All five teams then shared their solutions, forging connections with their colleagues and local nonprofits. Each organization left with clear next steps and tools to overcome their challenges and move closer to achieving their missions.

Viacom volunteers and their community partners met to explore solutions to the organization’s concerns at Viacom’s new Hollywood facility in October 2017.

The participating organizations and their respective challenges were as follows:

Lambda Legal is the oldest and largest legal organization advocating through impact litigation and public policy work for the LGBTQ community and people living with HIV. The organization’s premier L.A.-based annual event, the West Coast Liberty Awards, attracts more than 400 supporters to honor advocates, activists and companies whose work complements Lambda Legal’s mission. Lambda Legal seeks to elevate their visibility as a Hollywood “influencer” so they can appeal to a new, younger audience.

My Friend’s Place assists and inspires homeless youth to build self-sufficient lives in Los Angeles. In 2018, the organization will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a spring gala and special campaign, complemented by storytelling that communicates and celebrates their heritage. The group needs creative thinkers to brainstorm inventive ways of sharing that history through unique storytelling that will drive engagement with their anniversary celebration.

Brainstorming sessions between Viacom volunteers and community partners at the Viacom Hollywood office.

Read More

Here, Right Here: An Art at Viacom Painting Workshop With Jim Houser

On a Friday afternoon at Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters, I took a break from work to join 20 of my coworkers for a drawing workshop with Jim Houser, a mixed-media artist from Philadelphia. Houser is Art at Viacom’s latest artist-in-residence, a title which grants him free reign to transform our lobby walls with his bespoke creative design.

repost from @artatviacom , here’s the first wall

A post shared by jim houser (@misterhouser) on

Each artist-in-residence typically hosts an hour-long workshop for employees looking to learn their technique. Houser set up his exhibit HERE, RIGHT HERE in the days leading up to his workshop, so I was able to catch a preview of what I’d learn from the session. He had hung canvas collages, quilted with bright squares and rectangles, bringing to mind Dabs Myla’s whimsical world of graphic pop-art from a previous Art at Viacom installation.

Houser’s website describes his work as “visual poetry,” which is an apt description for the canvas he brought to the workshop as an example. It consisted of geometric patterns, typography, doodles and lyrical musings like this one: “the number we see, or the number there actually are.” Combined, these non sequiturs became one fluid verse; a capsule of Houser’s psyche.

And then, we had to replicate this.

Read More

Paramount Welcomes Pups for World Animal Day

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

​Dog lovers working on the Paramount Lot in Hollywood got a barking bonus on Friday, Oct. 20 – in honor of World Animal Day, the studio hosted its first Take Your Dog to Work Day. Paramount invited responsible dog owners to bring their furry best friends to perk up the office environment. From the photo below, it looks like canine and human alike were happy to be together for the day.

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.”

Read More