Cable Operators

Course Changer

1/30/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

If there is a theme that runs through Suddenlink Communications
executive vice president and chief financial officer Mary Meduski’s nearly
25-year career in cable, it could be, when you see a fork in the road, take it.

“I’m a firm believer that you should change course,” Meduski says. “If
what you’re doing does not feel perfect or nearly perfect, you owe it to yourself
to rethink things. You shouldn’t let inertia cause you to do what really
isn’t right.”

A willingness to take that alternate path has paid off
well for Meduski, who initially embarked on a career in
the medical field — she is a licensed nutritionist — but
soon changed course on a path through top investment
banking firms, the communications tower business and,
ultimately, heading up the financial efforts of the seventh
largest MSO in the country.

Along the way, Meduski has gained the respect of those
she has encountered on that journey, one of the reasons
she is among the Wonder Women Class of 2012.

NATURAL LEADER

“She has a natural leadership ability that others want to
follow and emulate,” Suddenlink CEO Jerry Kent says. “She
takes an interest in people, is a terrific mentor and makes
a real difference in people’s lives.”

Meduski has also been a tireless champion for women
in the workplace — she was treasurer of Women in Cable
Telecommunications for two years and was named vice
chairman earlier this month, meaning she will become
chairman in 2013. She’s currently spearheading efforts to
attract more women into engineering fields in the industry.
And, for the past three years, Suddenlink has placed
among the top companies for women to work, based on
WICT’s annual PAR Survey.

Smart, passionate, confident, compassionate and a
strong leader are just a few of the ways co-workers Tom
McMillin and Patty McCaskill — Suddenlink’s chief operating
offi cer and chief programming officer, respectively
— describe Meduski, who joined Suddenlink in 2006 after
stints at top media investment bankers Bank of Boston
and TD Securities.

Meduski first had her sights on a career in the medical
fi eld. She graduated from Cornell University in 1980 with
a bachelor’s in biology, landing a prestigious internship
at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital shortly after
graduation. But she soon decided that the medical field
wasn’t for her.

“I found out pretty soon that I went right when I should
have gone left,” Meduski says of her career path at the time.

Meduski stuck with it a few years — she ran the
nutrition services department at the U.S. Army Hospital
in Heidelberg, Germany, when her husband, an attorney
in the Judge Adjutant General Corps, was assigned there.

But then she shifted to a career in business. After her
husband’s assignment was complete, they moved back
to his native Massachusetts, and she was accepted in the
MBA program at Boston University.

She thrived at B.U., graduating first in her class in 1988,
and had her pick of jobs in the banking sector. She chose
Bank of Boston, then a preeminent media banker, moving
to TD Securities to work with well-known cable banker
Ian Crowe in 1997.

Crowe, now retired, says that he knew Meduski from
her reputation at Bank of Boston, where she was a top
producer.

“I can’t think of anyone that had a better work ethic than
Mary Meduski,” Crowe says. “She is a 24/7 player.”

That talent and work ethic caught the eye of Jerry Kent,
who through his AAT Communications had bought 784
towers from Meduski’s client, SBA Communications.
When that deal, which Meduski helped engineer, was finished,
Kent wanted the banker to become CFO of AAT and
asked Crowe his opinion.

“I said she would be fantastic,” Crowe says. “I was very
sorry to lose Mary, but it worked out fine. I couldn’t overstate
how good she is.”
Meduski stayed at AAT until 2006, when it sold its tower
portfolio to SBA for $1 billion. Kent then tapped the finance exec for his subsequent venture, cable operator
Cebridge Connections.

GUIDED GROWTH

Meduski helped steer Cebridge through its biggest growth
spurt — by early 2006, it had quadruped its size through
a series of acquisitions, changing its name to Suddenlink
in May of that year — and helped raise money to finance
those deals, as well as an ambitious $350 million upgrade
eff ort dubbed, “Project Imagine,” which started in 2009
and is slated to be completed this year.

Meduski says her decision to leave TD Securities was a
hard one — she considers Crowe a friend and mentor —
but she was attracted to Kent’s entrepreneurship, the prospects
of the business and the opportunity to play a major
role in a young company’s growth.

And grow it did. Between 2007 and 2010, Suddenlink
grew revenue 29% and cash flow 39%, making it one of the
top performers in the industry.

Meduski’s success has been equal parts intelligence,
hard work and a willingness to follow her instincts, something
that she passed on to Cornell students in a recent
talk at the school’s alumni conversation series.

“Don’t give up until you figure out what makes sense
for you,” Meduski told the Ivy Leaguers. “It will be time
well-spent.”

MARY MEDUSKI

Hometown: Old Bridge, N.J..

Age: 53

Current job: EVP/CFO, Suddenlink
Communications.

First job: Nutrition Internship,
Brigham and Women’s Hospital,
Boston.

Favorite TV shows: American Idol

High praise: “I can’t think of
anyone that had a better work ethic
than Mary Meduski. She is a 24/7
player.” — Ian Crowe, retired cable
banker

September