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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Yes, Women Can Have It All: Viacom and The Girls Lounge on Thriving in the Workplace

On a recent Friday, more than 600 Viacom employees, clients, and partners joined Viacom executives, as well as speakers from JP Morgan Chase, ColorComm, Refinery29 and WIE Network for The Girls’ Lounge. Co-hosted by Viacom and The Female Quotient, the event included a full day of panel discussions and professional coaching focused on work-life balance, leadership and diversity. Plus, attendees could schedule professional styling and headshots.

Viacom EVP and Chief People Officer Fukiko Ogisu (L) and Nickelodeon EVP and Chief Creative Officer Kim Rosenblum discuss the keys to leadership at Viacom’s The Girls’ Lounge panel event.

‘Having it all’ on your terms

The first panel, “Career on Fire: Engineering an Integrated, Rewarding Lifestyle,” focused on living mindfully as a professional with responsibilities outside the workplace.

The panelists: Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) Senior Vice President Kate Laverge, Drop the Ball author Tiffany Dufu, Viacom Catalyst Senior Vice President Cheryl Family, and Human Resources Vice President Lisa Sipress. Brooke Ozaydinli, senior manager Viacom Marketing Strategy, moderated.

“How do you define having it all?” asked Ozaydinli to kick off the panel. “Do you think it’s even possible to have it all?”

Viacom hosted The Girls’ Lounge, a pop-up empowerment seminar, at Viacom Headquarters in May.

Laverge offered her opinion: having it all depends on individual objectives, values and ambitions.

“The question of ‘having it all’ usually speaks to the idea of wealth and riches, romance and family, and spiritual fulfillment, all at the same time,” said Laverge. “If that’s what ‘having it all’ means to you, that’s fine – but it should be an individual question versus a generalized notion.”

Sipress shared her views as a working mother.

“I struggle to have it all,” said Sipress. She discussed feeling guilty, and how she combats this guilt. Her resolution is to have a constant internal conversation around balancing work and personal responsibilities. Some days, Sipress said, work must come first. Other days, parenthood is the priority.

Dufu has evolved to believe this is an important question, especially for women. After connecting with women one-on-one, the author (who is passionate about helping women and girls advance into different levels of leadership) realized how much time women spend juggling different, unrelated tasks.

“Women are managing a lot of different things,” said Dufu. “Women are constantly negotiating between their ambition, their desire to get to the highest level of leadership and achieve mastery of their craft…I think it’s important to define ‘having it all.’ For me, it means having a career driven by my passion and purpose, having a healthy relationship with my partner, raising children who are conscious, global citizens, and being joyful and fit.

“I want all of those things at the same time; I feel I am entitled to all these things at the same time. But I can’t do it all in order to have all of that. I think it’s important to us to get really clear on what matters most.”

The takeaway: There are only 24 hours in a day so prioritize what matters most. Learn how to outsource the lower priorities. Avoid self-imposed perfection.

Drop the Ball author Tiffany Dufu speaks at Viacom Headquarters for a lifestyle panel at an employee event co-hosted with The Girls’ Lounge.

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217 Years to Women’s Equality? Not on Viacom’s Watch

The World Economic Forum is concerned that, if nothing changes, full global gender parity is likely 217 years away.

Viacom thinks that we should start closing that gap today.

Today, March 8, is a good day for it: it’s International Women’s Day (IWD), an annual celebration of change-makers fighting for gender equality. Viacom, along with other media companies, nonprofit organizations, charities, politicians, entrepreneurs and activists around the globe, will celebrate women in a tradition dating back to the suffrage movements of the early 20th century.

Today, Viacom brands, talent and executives will spread a message of equality and social activism through the company’s global platforms, through a series of fan and employee events, and through support for larger movements lending a megaphone to women’s collective voice.

Here’s the breakdown on how Viacom will promote International Women’s Day:

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Your Authenticity Is Your Superpower, and More Insights From HERE Presents: Breakthrough Women in Sports

Asani Swann is the vice president of business strategy at Melo Enterprises, the multi-million-dollar organization of NBA All-Star athlete Carmelo Anthony. She’s also a woman of color.

Swann entered the male-dominated sports management industry armed with a bevy of professional experience in branding, contract negotiation and business partnership from her previous career at Macy’s. She had her MBA. And for the first time in her life, she lost her voice.

“There weren’t a lot of people who looked like me,” said Swann, speaking to nearly 250 Viacom employees and guests at HERE Presents: Breakthrough Women in Sports, a panel discussion sponsored by our employee resource group for women (HERE).

“When I walked into a room, people would ask me if I had gone to college,” said Swann. Other times, they’d ask if she was somebody’s girlfriend.

But Swann didn’t stay silent for long. She learned to alchemize negative energy into personal empowerment. Her career thrived, and so did her soul.

“Authenticity,” said Swann, “is my superpower.”

HERE Presents: Breakthrough Women In Sports panelists share wisdom from their success in a male-dominated industry. From L-R: Lisa Borders, Jaymee Messler, Stephanie McMahon, Pam Kaufman, Constance Schwartz-Morini and Asani Swann. Photo by Matthew Levinson for Nickelodeon.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Champions Education at the 5th Annual BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™

Michelle Obama has some inspiring words for the audience.

Michelle Obama has some inspiring words for the audience.

For the fifth consecutive year, BET Networks and BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™ teamed up to present the BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™ Award Show, honoring the inspirational work of African-American women in art, philanthropy, sports and community service. But last night’s show featured a special guest: first lady Michelle Obama, who paid tribute to the evening’s many honorees and spoke about an issue close to her heart.

“No matter who you are, no matter where you come from—you are beautiful, you are powerful, you are brilliant, you are funny!” the First Lady told the evening’s attendees inside the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. “There is nothing more important than being serious about your education. That’s why I am able to stand here tonight. … I want every one of our black girls do to the same, and our black boys.” Read More

Viacom Celebrates Women in the HERE and Now

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman highlights the company's culture of strong women leaders.

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman highlights the company’s culture of strong women leaders.

 

More than 300 Viacom employees piled into the Paramount Theater in Hollywood, California on Friday March 27 to watch a remarkable group of women discuss the challenges and triumphs they experienced during their careers. The event was sponsored by HERE, Viacom’s employee resource group focused on female leaders, which empowers women by facilitating opportunities for personal and professional development, creative innovation and career growth. Read More