Comcast Executive D’Arcy Rudnay Talks on Female Leadership in Cable
Today is the first day of the cable industry's Diversity Week, and it all kicks off at the WICT Leadership conference, where executives and leaders throughout the business will recognize the contributions made by exceptional women in internet and television. This afternoon during the WICT Touchstones Luncheon, a staple of Diversity Week, the industry will pay tribute to the Woman of the Year honorees. Last Friday, we heard from the Woman of the Year - Programmer, Sarah Barnett, president and general manager of BBC America. Today, we learn about the Woman of the Year - Operator, D'Arcy Rudnay, executive vice president and chief communications officer at Comcast.
Check out our Q&A below to find out about D’Arcy Rudnay’s leadership at Comcast, the milestones, the challenges, and her advice for women in the industry who aspire to rise to the top.
What does this honor mean to you?
It’s humbling. And I’m so honored to be sharing this recognition with Sarah Barnett. I’ve admired Sarah for years and the incredible work she’s done at BBC America. In fact, sharing this award is doubly sweet because it means that there are so many great women leaders that it was impossible to recognize just one! It’s really been amazing to watch our industry evolve over the years. Every day I am surrounded by so many strong, smart, talented women … and that’s the real honor and joy. I accept this award on behalf of all of them – the women and men who helped shape my career (it takes a village), and those who I work with today who have not only taught me so much, but who I’m lucky enough to call my friends.
Tell us about your career journey. Were there any turning points that helped steer you to where you are today?
I never plotted a career path, so to speak. I was a kindergarten teacher for a year, actually, and took a break in my mid 30’s to raise our two daughters, but I always knew I would go back to work in communications. But my best and most important career decision was coming to Comcast. That interview process was no picnic … but I came to realize that was because this company is really a family and operates as a team, so they devote a lot of time and energy to finding the right people. My 14 years here have been nothing short of amazing. I work with incredible people on fun, fascinating and intellectually challenging projects. And the best part is that I still learn something new every single day … as long as you’re still learning, you never have a slow day!
What are some of your proudest moments/achievements that you’ve experienced at Comcast?
There have been so many moments I’ve been lucky enough to be part of that it’s almost impossible to narrow the list. One of the most special moments was the morning we announced that we had completed the NBCUniversal deal, and we were heading to 30 Rock to meet our new colleagues. I remember meeting Ralph, Brian, Steve and David in the lobby of our hotel and realizing that this was the day we had been working so tirelessly to get to. We walked into one of the 30 Rock studios filled with NBCUniversal employees and Ralph and Brian immediately introduced themselves to everyone in the room. It was like watching their dreams come true. At that moment, I was so incredibly proud of our company … and of them … for making it happen.
A more recent example would be experiencing the Olympic Games in Rio last summer, and the Games in London in 2012. For our company, there really is no greater moment of pride than bringing the Olympics to America. For me, personally, being there to witness the patriotism and excitement … not to mention the astounding amount of work from both NBC and Comcast … was just extraordinary.
Tell us about a challenge that you encountered in your career, and how did you overcome it?
One of the hardest experiences in my professional life has to be the death of our founder, Ralph Roberts. When a dear friend and company founder passes away, the communications function has to spring into immediate action. While we had prepared for this sad day, that morning, and in the days that followed, we had to focus on sharing this news … all while our hearts were breaking. Saying goodbye to someone who had such a profound impact on my career, life and our company – while simultaneously doing my job and making sure the thousands of employees, industry friends and community leaders who also loved him felt comforted – was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
What piece of advice would you give to young women who aspire to be leaders?
The advice I always give to young women – women on my team, my own daughters, my granddaughter one day – is twofold. First: don’t stop … keep going. It’s as important to celebrate the wins as it is to embrace the losses. You learn from both and you’ll never get there if you let the bad slow you down. In fact, you’ll learn more from your mistakes than you will your achievements. And second: as you succeed and advance in your career, make sure you give of yourself and share those hard lessons and experiences with the people around you … that’s kindness and real leadership.
What strides do businesses still need to make to even the playing field for women?
It sounds so simple, but I truly believe that the most important thing businesses and leaders can do for women is to give them more opportunities … give them a chance. When you see a spark in someone, you need to go out of your way to feed that spark – give her challenging projects, bring her to meetings and push her beyond expectations. If you don’t, women can too easily become buried and that spark can burn out. It’s as easy as that … and yet so hard to accomplish.