Six Viacom Women Join Industry Leaders for Yearlong Betsy Magness Leadership Program

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Six women leaders from across Viacom’s global operations will join the next two cohorts of the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute (BMLI), working alongside dozens of their industry peers in a yearlong leadership development program.

“WICT [Women in Cable Telecommunications] is honored to welcome the incoming BMLI classes,” said Maria E. Brennan, CAE, president and CEO of WICT, which announced this year’s classes. “Our graduates represent many of the most influential and committed leaders in our industry. The collective contributions made by our graduates is immeasurable and serves as a testament to the impact of the BMLI program.”

BMLI’s immersive curriculum includes feedback on participants’ leadership styles and helps them develop a strategic vision for their teams and companies.

“I’m looking forward to working on myself as a leader, and improving for the organization and for my team,” said Viacom Vice President of Talent Acquistion for Campus to Career and Internal Mobility Suzanne Rosenthal.

The program has already launched. Following a battery of pre-assessments filled in by participants’ managers and direct reports, a nutritional audit, and more, Rosenthal and the rest of her cohort traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina for an intensive first week. The sessions, which included comprehensive assessments based on coworker feedback, a three-plus-hour individualized executive coaching session, and a full day focused on health and wellness – all in conjunction with the Center for Creative Leadership –forged close connections among participants.

Four Viacom women in Class 38 of the Betsy Magness Leadership Program gather to kick off this year’s program. L to R: Claudia Loda, Suzanne Rosenthal, Michelle Narciso, Kelly Bradshaw.

“We formed these unbelievable bonds with women from across the industry,” said Rosenthal, noting that the cohort now communicates over one massive group text. “I think women leaders in some cases face different challenges than men, and they overlay those on top of media and the very, very changing landscape.”

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Viacom’s 2017 Employee Halloween Costume Contest Winner Lina Henriquez, aka La Calvera Oscura, On Her Culturally Inspired Look

Congratulations to Lina Henriquez, our 2017 Viacom Employee Halloween Costume Contest winner. By day, Henriquez works in our Core Services department as the executive receptionist, greeting visitors and directing incoming calls.

By night, she’s a holy ghost, the grand dame of death, a Mexican folk saint. Well, at least on Halloween.

Henriquez was inspired to honor Mexico’s saint La Calavera Oscura after a recent trip to the country.

Below, Henriquez explains the meaning behind her costume, how much effort (and makeup) went into creating the stunning, authentic look, and how she celebrated the spookiest night of the year.

Lina Henriquez is the 2017 Viacom Employee Halloween Costume Contest winner. Photo courtesy of Henriquez.

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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.

This Father Is Not Surprised to See Viacom Make Fatherly’s List of Great Workplaces for New Dads

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

My daughter Waverly cannot believe I work with SpongeBob. Or Dora. Or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

And that’s just the beginning of what amazes her about Viacom. She loves that I work in “Robot City,” (as she calls Times Square). She is already planning her route through our skyscraper for the company’s annual kids’ day, which in the past has included everything from custom cape-making to face painting to magic shows (her favorite). And every time Wave sees a movie trailer that includes the string of silver stars wrapping over Paramount’s iconic mountain, she screams at the TV: “My dad works for them!” She’s 8 years old, and from her point of view, I have the coolest job in the world, for all of these reasons and more.

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Wave and I hanging out with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at Viacom’s Times Square headquarters during Kids Day 2015.

From a grown-up’s point of view, the benefits of working for Viacom are a bit different: strong work-life balance, a companywide commitment to social responsibility, and a day-to-day workplace that is widely acknowledged as being one of the best around.

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Add This to the Portfolio of Things Viacom Helps Create: Families

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom
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​It was St. Patrick’s Day 2010, and Susan Gould was in China for the first time in her life, sitting in an austere administrative office outside of Guangzhou. Beside her sat Patrick, her partner since the mid-1990s. International travel was nothing new to the couple, veterans of far-flung excursions to Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. But this was their biggest adventure of all: they were about to meet their child for the first time.​

The couple had been waiting for this moment ever since they had placed their names on a list of interested adoptive parents in 2006. After a couple wearying years spent mucking through the ever-changing and byzantine rules of the international adoption complex, they had changed tactics, offering themselves as candidates for a special needs child. In late 2009, notice came that a little Chinese girl born the year before would be available in six months. The couple immediately began preparations to travel overseas.

As they got organized, Gould, an account executive in Ad Sales, received a surprise: Viacom offered an adoption assistance program, offering up to $10,000 to offset the gigantic cost of bringing a non-biological child into their family.

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Opening Their World to Open Adoption – With an Assist from Viacom

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom
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​​Nine years ago, George Pantelidis and his wife Larissa decided to restart their life. The native New Yorkers packed it in and headed west, landing in Santa Clarita, just north of Los Angeles, where the weather was nice and they could have a little more space. George had been stationed in the area when he served in the Marine Corp, and the couple thought it may be a great place to start a family.

Family is what they really hoped for. Part of what had driven them west was a string of unsuccessful attempts to create just that. Natural conception had not worked. IVF had failed. There had been miscarriages. It was time for a change.

They settled in. Larissa went to work for Wells Fargo. George wound up at Viacom, ingesting transcode for the digital media department.

In 2009, having exhausted all options to conceive a child, the couple drove south to Long Beach to attend an adoption symposium. It was there that they learned about something called open adoption, in which a pregnant mother selects the couple who will adopt their child at birth. At the adoptive parents’ discretion, the child could maintain contact with their biological mother. The moment they learned of it, the couple determined that open adoption suited their sensibilities perfectly.

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