This post first appeared on the Turner Blog.
All this month, the Turner Blog is featuring Turner’s Trailblazing Women, in celebration of TCM Trailblazing Women, which features 25 films in October that spotlight the historical contributions of women in film. In part two of our four-part series, we meet eight amazing women from all the over the world who break new ground and set the tone for the future of Turner for tomorrow’s trailblazers.
Watch Trailblazing Women: The Women That Crafted The Stories, hosted by TCM’s Ileana Douglas every Monday night in October starting at 8 p.m. ET on TCM, and see the other parts in this series on the Turner Blog.
Which accomplishments at Turner are you most proud of?
Jennifer Cohen (senior vice president, entertainment content partnerships): The relationship with the team at CONAN. Working with the show on innovative partnership opportunities has been a true passion and joy for me. Being a part of a team that has led the way in late night for advertisers while keeping true to the voice of CONAN is something special that I am grateful to be a part of.
Lisa Griffin (vice president, entertainment finance): I am most proud of the individuals I’ve had the opportunity to mentor, sponsor and advocate for throughout their careers. Additionally, years ago, I assisted in creating a tool called “Career Pathing within F&A”. This tool outlined all roles within finance & accounting, the required skillsets and classes you could take to help prepare you for the next step in your career.
Jeniffer Kim (vice president, original programming, TBS): When Kevin Reilly joined Turner, he asked us what we wanted TBS to look like. Brett Weitz, Thom HInkle and I mocked up a “look book” with our values, goals and our definition of success. We wanted to develop shows we would watch. I would have never guessed that what began as a silly arts and crafts project would ultimately become the genesis of our brand evolution. I'm extremely proud to say that we accomplished our goals: launching six series in the first year with a seventh series this year and six more in the pipeline!
Ellana Lee (senior vice president, managing editor, CNN International): I have been at Turner for more than 20 years, so there have been plenty of moments over the past two decades where I’ve been so proud to work at CNN. The most recent example is last month’s special documentary Secret State: Inside North Korea, an exclusive one-hour special report that took viewers inside the secretive nation to places few outsiders have ever been, including the first-ever ascent by CNN of Mount Paektu, a sacred site for North Koreans. This special was years in the making and an extraordinary team effort with people involved from many different parts of the business.
How do you innovate or question conventional thinking in your role at Turner?
Rebecca Kutler (vice president, content development and contributors): You can’t be afraid of failure. I’ve had cancelled shows, bad pilots, poor talent choices. Some managers retreat from failure into the safety of narrow thinking and conservative choices. I’ve tried to push against this – failure is a badge of honor. It means we tried something new. I like to embrace failure. I think as a company, we should talk more openly about our failures and what we’ve learned from those mistakes.
Isabel Otero (affiliate sales executive director, north region LATAM): This is a time of deep transformation for our company and our industry as a whole, and therefore, the perfect time for me to challenge my own way of thinking. I try to avoid approaching challenges through the lens of the past, but rather, by picturing what I want our future to be. We have a strong history of success, but we are confident that we have an even better future ahead of us.
Hania Poole (vice president/general manager, NCAA Digital and Catch Sports): I think the way I innovate is sometimes quiet, sometimes loud. I push as hard as I can for a fan-first experience for March Madness Live, which means debating tough topics with TCD, Ad Sales and our partners. Less pre-rolls, more preview experiences, virtual reality. In the end, I have to compromise, but I just can’t live with acquiescing to the accepted norm if I know it’s a bad fan experience. But, sometimes, that’s the case. Doesn’t mean you don’t stop fighting.
Who blazed a path for you?
Roxanne Cloutier (senior vice president, business applications, systems & tech): My parents are the true definition of trailblazers. They came to the U.S. from Jamaica, worked extremely hard and excelled in the telecom and banking industries. They demonstrated and instilled in me the importance of integrity, excellence, hard work and humility. They also taught me to never stop learning and to always embrace challenges to grow stronger.
Jeniffer Kim: Sandra Dewey – her encouragement, unending support, integrity, poise, friendship and being an inspiring example of true leadership. She constantly pushes me to think outside the box and inspires me to do the same for other women coming up through the ranks. I want to grow up to be just like her.
Ellana Lee: It was mom. For her, growing up in South Korea in a male-dominated society wasn’t easy. She was a trailblazer who became the youngest congresswoman in the country at the time.
Hania Poole: Outside of work, my mother. She was a doctor who emigrated from the Middle East in 1969 and came here knowing little to no English. To be a female doctor in the Middle East at that time was beyond trailblazing.
Who was one of your biggest supporters along the way? What lessons did you learn from them?
Jennifer Cohen: Dan Riess. He has never quieted my voice or made me feel insignificant with my ideas. He values my opinions and taught me to do the same. Every day he encourages me to live up to my potential - and every day I try to go beyond.
Rebecca Kutler: My current boss, Amy Entelis, starts most conversations with a simple question “What can I do for you?” This is a great lesson in how you treat your employees at every level.
Isabel Otero: I have had the great fortune of having not just one, but two awesome mentors: Gustavo Minaker, my current boss, and Whit Richardson have both always looked out for me and my career growth.
What do you want women who are early in their tenure at Turner to know?
Roxanne Cloutier: Your opportunities at Turner are endless. Think beyond your current role and find opportunities that leverage your unique strengths. Do not doubt or underestimate yourself. Always accept feedback as a gift. Find and develop your strengths and never stop learning. Find a mentor, as well as, a mentee to constantly challenge your thinking.
Jennifer Cohen: You got this. Trust in yourself, be confident, believe in your value and take action with your ideas. Turner is a pretty special place in this industry, you’re supported more than you know.
Lisa Griffin: Become proficient in your role and within a year or two, branch out and get connected with other women outside your group and immediate partners. Stay curious!!!
Jeniffer Kim: Believe in yourself, invest in mentors and aim big.
Rebecca Kutler: Work hard and then keep working hard and then work harder. Take every opportunity, even if it means moving to another city, working overnights, tolerating a less than ideal boss. One of the best ways to succeed is to say “yes” when everyone else is saying “no.”
Ellana Lee: The ability to recover quickly from setbacks is essential. We live in a tough and competitive world. You must learn to fail fast and fail forward while you are young.
Isabel Otero: I think women must know they have to be themselves and not let go of what makes them unique. Be confident about yourself and your capabilities, enjoy what you do and always try to run the extra mile.
Hania Poole: You don’t have to figure it all out by age 29. You don’t have to not be you to change things or to succeed. And, ultimately, hard work, results and integrity are what matter.
Who’s your favorite super hero? Real or fictional.
Jennifer Cohen: Winnie the Pooh – that little bear knows some things.
Rebecca Kutler: Peppa Pig – it’s the constant soundtrack playing in the background at my house each morning.
Jeniffer Kim: My mom. She emigrated to a foreign country with very little knowledge of the English language, became a nurse, helped my father out with his business, raised two daughters, then was elevated to becoming the charge nurse of her department, all while being a positive, resilient, motivating, supportive, my biggest cheerleader and truly inspiring. She's basically my personal Wonder Woman.
Ellana Lee: My favorite little super hero is my five-year-old nephew. Anyone who knows a five-year-old will know exactly what I mean.
Roxanne Cloutier: If we're talking about a fictional superhero, I would say Wonder Woman. She is fearless, confident, strong, yet humble. She has the perfect combination of strength and compassion. That powerful combination is what I constantly strive for in both my personal and professional life.
Lisa Griffin: My favorite super heroes are my dad and my three brothers. They have each served our country in three different wars and made it home safe and sound. My dad only shares one story of how he had to out maneuver his enemy while trapped in a hole. Smartest man I know!
Isabel Otero: For me, I’m a fan of real people who want to change the world with what they do, make their life and others better, fight fear and push to accomplish their dreams.
Hania Poole: Is it okay to say I was never majorly into superheroes? Might be fun to be Jennifer Lawrence or Beyoncé for a day though.