New Trends in Talent Management
HR leaders from 7 companies share insight into this critical HR responsibility


Talent Everywhere
Check out the theme and keynote speaker for CTHRA's June 15 HR Symposium in Atlanta


CTHRA's 2012 Awards Call for Nominations

Industry Employers' Healthy Living Initiatives

CTHRA Member Chris Powell Among Most Influential in U.S.

CTHRA Community Touts Two NAMIC Luminaries

Is Your CTHRA Member Profile Up to Date?


CTHRA's Newest Members

New Trends in Talent Management
By Pamela Williams, CAE, Executive Director of the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association (CTHRA)

Recently, several of cable’s top HR executives explored the concept of talent on demand with Dr. Peter Cappelli, Professor and Director, Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School of Business and author of Talent on Demand: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty. He pointed out that current economies and markets are expanding and contracting within shorter cycles, thereby making it difficult for many organizations to predict their staffing needs with any degree of certainty. Of course, this constant ambiguity also provides a perplexing environment for employees as they seek to chart successful career paths.

In a follow-up conversation, I asked some of CTHRA’s members to tell us how their companies handle the challenge of having the right talent at the right time to create, facilitate and deliver value to their customers—in the process providing employees with the tools they need to navigate uncharted waters. The response to my first question, “Is talent management a formal process in your company?” was a unanimous, “Yes!” Although the programs differ in details, they all share a common goal. That is, as Natasha Tharp, Senior Manager of Organization Effectiveness and Human Resources at Time Warner Cable, put it, “to support internal mobility through placing the best talent in critical roles while managing current and future talent as an organizational asset.”

In other words, talent management is part and parcel of the succession planning process. That process begins with a thorough knowledge of current employees. Said Erin Hand, Vice President of Talent and Development for Cox Communications and President of CTHRA’s Board of Directors, “We maintain an inventory of our talent, their experience, strengths, development opportunities, potential future moves and successors. This, along with annual conversations with leaders and HR teams, allows us to identify critical roles, top talent and emerging leaders. The data is used to define development activities and allow us to fill key openings quickly. The process has been invaluable over the last several months to support growth and changes in our business and organization.”

One element that makes predicting talent requirements especially tricky for cable industry management is the fact that many of the roles they will need to manage down the road don’t even exist now. So how do they handle that uncertainty? Eric Hawkins, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Discovery Communications, admitted that predicting criteria for nebulous jobs is dicey at best but he said that in his company, “We build talent pools and a pipeline of top external talent for key roles within our organization. Networking from all angles is critical for both corporate leaders and the HR talent management team. We continuously seek out talent and opportunities to build relationships with future leaders.”

Shifting Sands
One would expect that the changing economic and regulatory environment of recent years would have an impact on the talent management process, and it has. For Time Warner Cable, said Janet Manzullo, Vice President of Talent Acquisition & Movement, the effect has been positive. “We are able to recruit more readily from a broader spectrum of organizations given the effects of downsizing in other industries. We have also experienced fewer exits, which we continue to closely monitor. And we make an intentional effort to support the influx of military veterans in our talent acquisition and workforce planning practices.”

Uncertainty also colors the action at Cox. Said Erin Hand, “The biggest shift in our talent strategy is anticipating future needs and thinking about how current experiences can be leveraged for future roles. We now make it a point to move people every two years rather than keep them in the same role or function essentially for their entire careers.”

It isn’t only the uncertain economy and increasing government regulation that keeps talent management an evolving process. Scott Katz, Director of Talent Development at Turner Broadcasting System, added, “The ever changing media landscape also continues to impact our strategy. It has been critical for us to consider our current and future talent needs and how we can continue to be nimble and flexible to meet them effectively.”

The fluctuating nature of both cable and the overall business world has even caused many companies to completely revamp their performance review and talent management processes. Rather than relying on formal, annual performance reviews, said Lisa Kaye, President and CEO of, “Some companies are opting for a more informal process without all of the heavy documentation. Managers simply sit down with employees on a regular basis and provide verbal reviews. The feedback from both employees and managers who have to review many people, usually at one time, is encouraging. This is a positive trend that seems to be catching on.”

Targeting Future Superstars
One of the keys to success of any talent management process, especially in an industry as tumultuous as ours, is the ability to identify the major leaders of tomorrow. Like many companies, Comcast Cable relies on several tools to evaluate talent. One leveraged by Comcast Cable is a nine box matrix which facilitates conversations by providing a common platform for discussing potential and calibrating talent year over year. Employees at the director level and above are further assessed according to 10 leadership competencies, which include such factors as customer focus, relationship building, functional depth and breadth, and strategic thinking. Once these two tools are employed, Grace Killelea, SVP Talent, Comcase said, “We identify the two competencies that we consider to be the employee’s greatest strengths in leadership—the areas he or she can leverage in the coming year. This data may provide insight into how we can use the person’s strengths to develop and influence others.

We also identify the two areas in which we feel the employee would most benefit from focused development in the coming year. Bear in mind these are not ‘weaknesses.’ Rather, they are simply areas where additional focus would help lead to the next step in the individual’s career. It helps us as we work on the person’s development plan, and also assists us in identifying organization-wide trends.”

While it is only natural to put a strong emphasis on pinpointing tomorrow’s key movers and shakers, HR pros also know that not every valuable employee will—or even wants to—make it to the executive suite. For example, said Pat Crull, Group Vice President of Learning, Development and Inclusion, “At Time Warner Cable we consider everyone to be a leader. We offer a full leadership curriculum with aligned success factors to address the skill gaps of our individual contributors, people leaders and our enterprise or executive leaders. Our Talent Acquisition and Movement team continues to focus on the future career opportunities for our employees by ensuring we are building an effective process for internal movement across the company.”

Despite high unemployment rates, competition for key talent at all levels remains fierce. That means that companies need to focus attention not only on identifying and training top performers, but also on keeping them. For WOW! Internet, Cable, and Phone the retention effort starts with the first interview. Patti Rowe, Director of Organization Development, said, “Our highly distinctive culture is the reason employees stay with our company. We spend considerable time ensuring that those who join the organization measure up to our values so once they are here, it feels like ‘home.’”

Beyond that, she noted, “Statistics show the key reason people leave jobs is the working relationships they have with their managers. We work very hard to support our leaders in developing solid working relationships.”

In short, throughout our industry, employers place premium value on their people and their development. Thanks to the constantly changing environment we operate in, companies are managing their talent with the same focus, analysis and continual monitoring they devote to their core business offerings. Without a doubt, in our industry, people are the priority.

The Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association (CTHRA) is the premier human capital resource for the industry and a growing nonprofit organization with more than 1,900 members spanning 100 companies. CTHRA provides industry-specific benchmarks, information and resources, as well as networking and educational opportunities. Its groundbreaking initiatives include compensation, employee benefits, and human capital metrics surveys, an Annual HR Symposium, roundtables and webinars. For more information, visit

Talent Everywhere

Whether everywhere means around the globe or in places other than a traditional office building, the dynamics of managing employees has never been more complex. That’s why CTHRA’s 2012 Symposium Program Committee (see sidebar for list of committee members) has selected Talent Everywhere as the theme for this year’s event which will be held on Friday, June 15 at the Omni CNN Center in Atlanta.

“Our industry is changing at an exponential rate, making Talent Everywhere a reality that is providing new challenges for HR professionals. At CTHRA’s Symposium, thought-provoking sessions will provide attendees with a deep-dive into the implications and opportunities, while also sharing case studies of practical solutions and strategies that companies have implemented,” explained Lisa Chang, co-chair of CTHRA’s Symposium and Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Turner Broadcasting System.

In the Talent Everywhere environment in which we operate, companies are competing for talent in a free global marketplace in which traditional definitions of job and employee are increasingly outmoded. As a direct result, HR leaders must also change traditional ways of working in order to maintain a central role in the organization of the future. To help understand the dynamics of the paradigm shift taking place, CTHRA has secured author and HR expert Libby Sartain (photo at left) to provide a keynote session focused on, “The New Consumer of Work.”

Libby’s keynote has an essential message for all HR leaders: You can guide your organization through this competitive marketplace by treating your talent more like consumers and less like employees. Think of each phase in the worker life cycle as a branded experience and design your HR programming to deliver this experience. Workers will become more engaged and your organization will be prepared for the impending brain drain likely to occur when the economy turns around and disengaged workers head for more meaningful work.

CTHRA's 2012 Symposium Program Committee

Christopher Powell
EVP of HR, Scripps Networks Interactive


During her Symposium session, Libby’s insight will challenge you to:

  • Establish a team at the top with Marketing, Communications and Business Operations to create the right worker experience at each stage of the employment life cycle;

  • Consider both the needs of the business and sensibilities of workers to meet changing business requirements;

  • Become an organization that creates strong connections with its prospective talent pool and a reputation for providing a great worker experience.

You won’t want to miss this compelling keynote! Reserve your seat by registering for CTHRA’s Talent Everywhere Symposium at

About Libby Sartain
After a distinguished 30 year career in human resources, Libby Sartain is now an active business advisor and Board Member. As CHRO of both Yahoo! Inc. and Southwest Airlines, Sartain led significant business transformation initiatives as a member of executive leadership teams and guided global human resources efforts focusing on attracting, retaining, and developing employees. Her focus has been growth companies where she developed employment brand strategies that helped grow the workforce exponentially while establishing company reputation as a leading employer of choice. Both Yahoo and Southwest were listed on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For in America and the Fortune 500 during her tenure.

Sartain also served as chairman of the board of the Society for Human Resource Management in 2001 and was named fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources in 1998. She holds an MBA from the University of North Texas and a BBA from Southern Methodist University. She was named by Human Resources Executive as one of the 25 most powerful women in HR in 2005.

Libby co-authored: HR from the Heart: Inspiring Stories and Strategies for Building the People Side of Great Business, AMACOM and Brand from the Inside: Eight Essentials to Connect Your Employees to Your Business, Josey-Bass. Her new book, Brand for Talent: Eight Essentials to Make Your Talent As Famous As Your Brand, published in early 2009 by Josey-Bass. She is a frequent speaker and is often quoted as a thought leader in human resources. You can read her posts weekly at her Brand For Talent blog.


CTHRA Seeks Aspiring Leader Nominees
Did you know CTHRA has added a new award, Aspiring Leader, to spotlight up and coming talent in our community of HR professionals? Take a moment to review the criteria and nominate a deserving colleague today! We’re also accepting nominations for the Team Innovator of the Year and Leadership Excellence Awards (formerly titled the Best Practices/HR Operational Efficiency Award). All nominations are due by May 1. Visit for details and nomination forms.

Companies Encourage Healthy Living
More and more companies are providing programs to help their employees live healthier lives. Check out what some industry employers are doing in CTHRA’s article published by CableFAX. Click here to read the article.

Is Your CTHRA Member Profile Up To Date?
CTHRA’s new website makes it easier than ever to manage your CTHRA membership! Simply click here to review your member profile and ensure your information is current. While you’re on the site, you can also peruse the numerous HR articles, register for the June 15 Symposium, connect with colleagues using the online member directory, and much more!

CTHRA Member Chris Powell Among Top 100 Most Influential
Congrats to Scripps Networks Interactive’s EVP for HR and CTHRA’s Vice President, Chris Powell who is listed among the “Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America” by Savoy Magazine!

According to a press release issued by Scripps Networks Interactive (SNI), Powell is responsible for the strategy, development and delivery of initiatives, programs and policies to recruit, develop, retain and reward employees for SNI. He also leads the company’s efforts related to diversity and other key strategic initiatives.

The Savoy Top 100 is the definitive listing of African-American influencers and achievers impacting corporate America. Selection of the “Top 100 Blacks in Corporate America” begins by examining the landscape of spheres of influence impacting Savoy’s readership including: corporate sector influence, scholastic achievement, career growth, community outreach and recognition.

“Chris’ accomplishments are vital in developing the diverse, inclusive environment that makes our company so successful,” said Ken Lowe, Chairman, CEO and President of SNI. “This recognition is well-deserved and rightly places Chris among the elite in American business.”

In addition to his duties as the head of human resources, Powell chairs the company’s Benefits Committee, serves on its Executive Diversity and Management Committees. He is Vice Chair of the Knoxville Area Urban League, 2012 Leadership Knoxville Program participant and the University of Tennessee Chancellor’s Associate Council. In addition to his leadership role at CTHRA, Powell serves on the Board of Directors for Women in Cable & Telecommunications (WICT).

CTHRA Community Touts Two NAMIC Luminaries
CTHRA is pleased to announce that NAMIC has named two of our members as Luminaries: Crystal Washington, Vice President of External Relations, Diversity and Inclusion, Scripps Networks Interactive and Cheryl Wingate, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Time Warner Cable’s East Region. NAMIC’s Luminaries are part of its Next Generation Leaders Award program which recognizes emerging executives of color: business leaders demonstrating exceptional managerial acumen while embracing NAMIC's mission to educate, advocate and empower for diversity and inclusion in the communications industry. Hats off to Crystal and Cheryl for their achievements!


On April 2, diversity advocate Nicol Turner-Lee became the president and CEO for the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC). Most recently, Turner-Lee (pictured at right) served as Vice President of the Media and Technology Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. "We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee to the NAMIC family and are particularly excited about the breadth of knowledge and experience she brings to the table," said Ray Gutierrez, Chairman of the NAMIC Board and EVP of HR for CBS Television Networks in a statement.



Oodles of New Members Join CTHRA
We have so many new members, 232, that there are too many to list here! But you can view the list to find friends and colleagues at New CTHRA Members for Apr issue 2012.pdf