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Cable Operators

Cable’s Leading Women

10/03/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Each year, Women in Cable Telecommunications singles out as Woman of the Year a top executive who has made significant contributions to her own company and the overall cable telecommunications industry throughout her career and shows great resolve in helping others along their path. This year that honor goes to Bright House Networks president Nomi Bergman.

WICT also honors as Women to Watch executives who show tremendous promise for transforming the industry through their professional accomplishments, and have already demonstrated exemplary leadership skills and a strong dedication to the industry and their organization. This year, one of of those awards goes to Jennifer Dorian, senior vice president, strategy development, for Turner Entertainment Networks and Turner Broadcasting System’s Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media group (AYAKM). The other goes to Kathleen Finch, senior vice president and general manager of HGTV.

The awards will be presented at the WICT Touchstones Luncheon on Monday, Oct. 3. The luncheon is the centerpiece of the 2011 WICT Leadership Conference, Oct. 3 to 4 at the Hilton New York. Actress Lorraine Bracco of TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles will deliver a keynote address at the luncheon.

Profiles of the winners appear here. For more about WICT, visit www.wict.org.

Making the Family Business Better

When Nomi Bergman was growing up in the Miron household, the cable industry was fodder for dinner conversation in the way that other families might discuss politics or the weather. Her dad, Bob Miron, was the longtime chief of MSO Advance/Newhouse Communications and cable was part of the family’s DNA. So it’s pretty safe to say cable was in her blood at a young age and it’s little wonder that she ended up going into the family business.

This year, WICT is honoring Bergman as its Woman of the Year. She is the president of Bright House Networks, the 2.4 million-customer cable and telecommunications provider. Bergman has been pivotal in some of the most aggressive and successful endeavors since Bright House was formed in 2003. She has also been intricately involved in several industry-wide initiatives that have improved consumers’ media experiences and guided employees along their career paths.

Cable may have been in Bergman’s blood, but it wasn’t her first job. After graduating with a degree in economics and statistics from the University of Rochester, she worked as a systems consultant at Arthur Andersen & Co. She loved the gig, but a cousin ultimately convinced her join the consulting division at Advance Publications, which, like Bright House parent Advance/Newhouse Communications, is part of the Newhouse family media empire. (Bob Miron is the nephew of S.I. Newhouse.)

CABLE FOLLOWED HER

“Mark Newhouse kept asking me to consider joining The Systems Group, an internal consulting group for the Newhouse properties,” Bergman said. “I eventually did this, and this group was mysteriously given more ‘cable’ work. The cable in my blood was charged, pulling me into all kinds of interesting projects.”

Bergman was charged with selecting a unified billing system for all the Newhouse Communications properties. She oversaw the complex conversion and her love of cable continued to blossom. Bergman learned a lot about cable operations and the experience prepared her for the career she has carved out for herself today.

In 1994, when Advance/Newhouse and Time Warner Cable merged their cable assets, Bergman went to work for Time Warner Cable in Charlotte, N.C., running the business-operations and IT departments. She also spearheaded the launch of high-speed Internet product Road Runner. When that partnership dissolved, Bergman moved to back Syracuse, N.Y., and joined the senior management team to form Bright House.

Bergman has always been fascinated with and adept at understanding new technologies. It was Bergman who taught her father how to operate a PC and use email. It quickly became a commonly used communication tool between the two that exists to this day — usually before dawn. All of the Mirons — Bob (now retired); brother Steve, who serves as Bright House’s CEO; and Bergman — are early risers and often get hours of work in before the sun comes up.

Bergman’s early experience with cable technology has stuck with her throughout her career. BHN is known as an industry innovator when it comes to new technology. The MSO was one of the first operators to roll out a metro Ethernet transport platform and commercial Ethernet-overfiber services. Bergman also oversaw the launch of voice over Internet protocol at Bright House, which now counts more than 1 million phone customers. It has also aggressively rolled out the popular “Start Over” feature, which allows viewers to restart selected TV programs already in progress, throughout its footprint.

Bergman sits on the board of interactive ad consortium Canoe Ventures and was involved in the creation of the Clearwire wireless-broadband joint venture. She was instrumental in launching a new initiative from the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers and WICT called the Women’s TechConnnect, designed to help encourage women to enter the tech side of the business.

The point of the project is to expand the woefully low number of women in technical and engineering jobs, she told Broadcasting & Cable earlier this year. The project pairs a group of promising women in technical positions with mentors who’ll work with them on a one-on-one basis.

Helping women advance in their careers, regardless of which departmental path they take, has long been a passion for Bergman. She created Bright House’s Women’s Leadership Circle, which helps women in mid-level management develop their leadership skills. Many of its participants have advanced. She also has long worked closely with WICT in ways that have helped her, as well as scores of others.

‘I LEARN EVERY DAY’

“WICT has been an important part of my career, as it has given me experiences different from my day job,” Bergman said. “One of my most treasured experiences was the [Betsy Magness Leadership Institute] experience. Never before had I been in a room with other working women, with so many shared experiences to my own. I learned so much from those interactions, and I still treasure those relationships.”

Bergman has always taken a personal interest in others. She called it the most rewarding — and challenging — part of her job. Her leadership style has morphed over the years to become more collaborative, she said.

“I try to be reinforcing of others so we can succeed together,” Bergman said, quickly noting that she has learned some of her strongest traits from watching others.

Asked what she considers to be her strongest trait, she said: “Today, I think it is optimism, kindness, integrity, zest and humor … coupled with grit, courage and dedication. I was not born with these traits. I watched and learned from others, emulating traits I admired, and defining what collection of traits I wanted to define me. I work hard at increasing my self-awareness, so I can keep improving how well I embrace these wonderful traits. I learn every day, from my mistakes and successes.”

September