President & General Manager, WE tv
Under Kim’s leadership of WE tv, the network’s viewership has increased enormously, to over 78 million viewers, and established WE tv as an empowering network that brings women together. Kim launched WE Volunteer, a program connecting women with local volunteer opportunities, and is actively engaged with WE Empowers Women, an initiative celebrating women’s strength and READ MORE »
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: I’m from a small town in Georgia and I always knew I’d run a business and live in a big city, so I’m living my dream. I’m President of WE tv, a women’s network, I live in Long Island and work in NYC.
I’ll spare you the life story; I’d just finished my MBA and I was hired by Discovery in 1989 in their sales department. I was their 34th employee. I really grew up professionally at Discovery. What a great environment – very entrepreneurial. I was there for about 10 years, advancing steadily in my career. I had a great job but I was looking for more challenges. That’s when I got a call from my present employer, AMC Networks. They needed someone to run their sales group overseeing both AMC and Romance Classics, today known as WE tv. I jumped at the opportunity and over the next four years plowed myself into negotiating deals on behalf of both networks, but really focusing on growing WE tv distribution. When the GM of WE tv left, I applied for the position. Initially I was rejected because my experience was not in programming or network operations but I didn’t give up. I became an expert on WE tv. I watched 24/7 and I talked with all of the employees to understand the network. I was ridiculously persistent and it paid off.
Q: What are 3 characteristics that you believe define great leadership?
A: Confidence, the ability to connect with your team, and setting aside your ego. These characteristics will help you make decisions that are in the best interests of your company.
Q: Innovation requires creative thinking. How do you tap into the creative thinking resources within your business?
A: At WE tv, we constantly come together as a team to brainstorm new and innovative ideas. We keep each other on our toes.
Q: It’s hard to focus on the “big picture” sometimes because we can get caught in the weeds of work and life. When does visioning come clearest or easiest for you? Or what inspires your vision?
A: Visioning comes easiest for me as I’m running in the early mornings, no headphones, just me and my dog, Jesse. It gives me a chance to allow my mind to wander and think of the possibilities. Then I’m able to map out a strategy for success.
Q: A great negotiation can be game changing for one’s business or life. Studies have shown that men are much more comfortable negotiating and asking for what they want compared to women. What’s your advice to women who are uncomfortable negotiating?
A: Basic negotiating skills are a prerequisite in all leadership roles so you need to get comfortable asking for what you want and need to be a great leader and role model for other women in your organization. The book, Women Don’t Ask, is a great read and features tons of tips and tools you can utilize.
Q: What do you feel separates your brand from your competitors?
A: There are several women’s networks, but WE tv is the only one that focuses on the most important thing in most women’s lives: Family. WE tv presents real stories about the changing face of families today, from multi-generational households to single moms and blended families the shows on WE tv are a reflection of the times and make women say, “that could be me.”
Q: Do you (formally or informally) mentor anyone? If so, who and why is it rewarding?
A: I’m currently mentoring a young woman at WE tv and another through Step Up Women’s Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting professional women with under-served teens. I’m very passionate about mentoring young women. It’s my way of giving back for all the success I’ve seen throughout my career.
ON Starting Out
Q: If you had a young sister or a daughter who was a senior in college, anxious about landing her first job or unsure of what she wanted to do, what would your advice be to her?
A: My advice to all college students is to get as much work experience in as many companies as possible – even if it’s unpaid. It looks great on your resume, but it will also help you decide on your career interests.
Q: Is there an example in your life of a time when others were against you or your dream, yet you persevered?
A: When I applied for the role I’m currently in, general manager of WE tv, I was initially rejected. But I refused to take no for an answer. I became an expert on WE tv and kept selling myself internally. Eventually I was offered the job, and it’s been a wonderful six years at the helm of this dynamic and growing network.
Q: What are you most passionate about and how do you incorporate it into your career or everyday life?
A: I’m most passionate about my family – my husband and two teenage daughters. I enroll them in my work whenever possible. As a result, my girls can’t imagine a life without a career they are passionate about.
ON Self Care
Q: Online calendars, emailing ourselves, post-it notes… I’m still struggling to find the best way to manage my time and to do list? What’s your method?
A: I’ve cut the cord on paper calendars and post-it notes and I can’t live without my blackberry.
ON Self Care
Q: What are your top 3 personal finance tips for women?
A: Pay off credit cards each month, be a consistent saver, and hire a good financial planner.
Q: What is the most valuable lesson your mother taught you?
A: You win more disagreements with honey and a smile, than with anger and vinegar.
Q: In the world, what are your three favorite destinations?
A: Florence, Itlay, The Coste d’azur in France and San Francisco
Q: Who are your favorite designers?
A: Milly Trina Turk and Ellie Tahari – They’re stylish and reasonably priced too.
Q: What are the beauty items you could not live without?
A: Sunscreen, mascara and lip gloss.