Sandy Howe, Wonder Woman 2015
Sandy Howe, Senior VP of Global Marketing for Arris and honoree in the 2015 class of Multichannel News Wonder Women, owns the “flawless follow-up” as her strongest Super Power.
So say her customers and colleagues around the industry, recounting tale after tale of something gone awry, and how Howe’s trademark blend of empathy and tenacity got it resolved.
“She has this impeccable follow up,” said Nomi Bergman, President of Bright House Networks. “She’s 100% on the mark with it, every time.”
“Tenacity and determination are two of the qualities for which Sandy is best known,” said Bob Stanzione, Chairman and CEO of Arris. “With over 20 years of experience in optical, routing and switching product development, she’s played an important role in some of the largest U.S. cable deployments.”
“Sandy Howe is among the very best account representatives I have ever dealt with, and I’ve worked with many,” said Kevin Leddy, Executive VP of Technology Policy and Product Development for Time Warner Cable. “She does her homework and often understands our company better than we do — her follow up is exceptional.”
And, her colleagues noted, it’s easier to see a person’s true colors in times of distress than when everything’s working fine — like the time when an equipment malfunction bricked a large number of in-home devices she’d sold to a major customer. Howe saw the problem through, doggedly connecting answers with questions, until everything was fixed, and everyone satisfied.
“Her genuine interest in her customers is what really resonates,” said Joe Quane, who hired Howe into then-Scientific-Atlanta, in 1999. “It’s her effervescent personality and genuine enthusiasm.”
Howe grew up near the “happy valley” that is State College, Pa., graduating from Penn State in 1994 with a B.S. in Education. After a career fair landed her the job offer in what she thought was her vocation of choice — fashion merchandising — she came to the depressing conclusion that it wasn’t for her after all.
“I was devastated and I called my dad — what am I going to do?” Howe recalls. “He said, ‘go into technical sales and know it better than any man in the room.’”
To get sales experience, she landed a job at American Greeting Cards, with a company car and 35 direct reports.
Serendipitously, a small tech startup – Broadband Networks Inc. (BNI), a maker of the opto-electronics used in cable’s hybrid-fiber coax architectures — occupied the duplex upstairs. Soon enough, Howe, at 22, was offered a job in national technical sales.
“I called home, and this time my mom answered,” Howe said. “I said, I have this offer from this tiny tech company, should I do it?’ She said, ‘are you crazy? It’s technical sales, get it on your resume.’”
Five years later, after BNI was purchased, Howe started planning her next move. “I’d been reading about General Instrument and Scientific Atlanta in Multichannel News and thought, now’s the time to work at a big company.” In 1999, she joined S-A as an account manager to oversee the digital services launch at Time Warner Cable, for its Carolinas territory.
She immediately made an impact, Quane noted, converting what at the time was “100% Pioneer” set-top box territory over to S-A. From there, she rose quickly, ascending over the next decade to Director of the company’s Business Development team.
In 2009, Howe joined Arris as Senior VP of Strategic Market Development. Her background in sales, buttressed by a loyal customer base, made it an easy shift. “I believe I understand better than most just what it’s like out there, and what tools salespeople need to be successful,” Howe explains.
Her sizable fan base agrees. “I remember when Sandy went to Arris, how happy I was for her — and for Suddenlink,” said Terry Cordova, its CTO. “We now had an insider who, when needed, would ‘jump in front of the charging bull’ for us, to rectify any issues.”
“Other suppliers could learn a lot from Sandy,” added Time Warner Cable’s Leddy.
Last year, Howe shouldered a fresh set of challenges, as newly minted Senior VP of Global Marketing for the manufacturer. By August, she’d turned a corporate desire for consumer brand recognition into an Arris sponsorship of NASCAR racer Carl Edwards, and NASCAR’s first Mexican driver, Daniel Suarez. “The project plan has over 200 items,” she explained, including photo shoots, events, branding 1500 items, and merchandising.
Beyond her day job, Howe is a deeply committed industry volunteer, “especially when it comes to diversity and inclusion.” She serves in several WICT chapters and on the national WICT board, and participates in countless chapter and national events for the SCTE.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working within the orbit of Sandy Howe for the past two decades,” said Sean Bratches, EVP of Sales and Marketing for ESPN. “She gives her time and her expertise willingly, and we are all better for it.”
When she’s not leading the marketing team at Arris, Howe is either sailing or relaxing on the beach in Wilmington, N.C. with husband Peter, whom she met during a pickup beach volleyball game in 2002. “You can find me almost every Saturday at 5 p.m. for cocktails at the beach house,” she laughs.
Which makes her personal credo all the more apt: “A pessimist expects the wind not to change; an optimist thinks the wind will change — but a realist adjusts the sails.”
This profile originally appeared in the Wonder Woman Class of 2015 Special Feature of Multichannel News.
The World of webRTC
Here’s a way to let the imagination run wild: Think about your stuff that’s equipped with a web browser.
Now imagine being able to talk to people, using that stuff.
That’s the allure of webRTC, where the “RTC” stands for “real time communications.” It’s a technology that grew out of the World Wide Web consortium (which goes by “W3C”) to support browser-to-browser applications, like voice and video calling, with no need to download anything. Click to communicate.
We’ve already seen people talking into their smart watches. We’ll see many more such Dick Tracy maneuvers when Apple’s smartwatch emerges, in March. (Overheard during the recent Consumer Electronics Show were whispered demo comments like “I don’t think your watch heard you.”)
Also at CES, AT&T became the first American carrier to announce an API (Application Program Interface) for its webRTC plans. Why would a developer want to write code for AT&T, vs. for any garden-variety browser that can do it? Presumably to be able to call to the numbers within the public switched telephone network (PSTN) — in other words, the traditional “black phones” connected to the original wired phone network.
Last week, the browser Firefox announced “Hello,” a plug-in that, once plugged in, enables webRTC-based calling. Also last week, up in Canada, ECN Capital launched an online investment program for private markets, based on webRTC.
Last year, at The Cable Show, Comcast showed a way to “live stream” video from wherever you are, to other Xfinity customers. You’re at the wedding, but Gramma couldn’t go, so you hold up your phone and stream it to her big screen. They called it “Share.” It, too, is anchored in webRTC.
Use cases show up everywhere: You’re browsing places on AirBnB. The host happens to be home, and amenable to “showing you around,” live, with video.
You’re on a customer care call, at your desk. You need to leave. Switch the call to your phone, tablet, watch — that’s webRTC.
As of now, there’s not a straight line between webRTC and the Internet of Things — the IOT is a sensor story, now. But the browser can’t be far behind. And when that happens, so opens a whole new way to call people, with your voice or your whole face, from whatever the device is.
So far, I can’t quite imagine taking a call from the fridge. But years ago, when digital was just starting, I used to say that anything that helps people to communicate better, is a winner. At the time, I used the example of being able to “talk” with my nieces about a particular live TV show — even though they live far away.
This is that. And like everything else based on IP (Internet Protocol), webRTC is coming. Whether you choose to use it is up to you.
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.
CES: Kooky Stuff Roundup!
The Consumer Electronics Show, which sprawls a sensory overload across two million square feet (that’s 35 football fields) this week in Las Vegas, can be a useful forecaster of the kinds of stuff we’ll (someday) bring into our lives and homes.
It can also be an electronic petri dish of the spectacularly weird. Connected forks, to scold you when you’re eating too much, or too fast. Brainwave-sensing headbands, to tell you when you’re in a bad mood. Sensors, to monitor everything from sun exposure to canine/feline psychology.
Consider this a curated assembly of the kooky at this year’s CES — starting with the combo LED light bulb and JBL Bluetooth speaker, from Sengled. Each $60 bulb screws into an ordinary lamp, then plays stereo sound from two built-in, three-watt speakers. A companion app controls the streaming while regulating the lighting.
Too busy to work out? Maybe you need the “tiny gym in your pocket,” called “WellShell,” from TAO Wellness. It’s a plastic, squeezable thing, about the size of a (computer) mouse, but more swoopy. Its purpose: To give you an isometric workout, no matter where you are. (A marketing video shows a woman on a plane, squeezing the thing with both hands, as it blurts out “Flex! Flex! Flex!”)
Inside each WellShell: A pressure sensor, accelerometer, heart rate sensor, GPS tracker, and gyroscope. No pricing yet; a tag of between $200-$300 is expected.
Yoo hoo, runners: Are your socks smart enough? New from Sensoria (tagline: “the garment is the computer!”), the socks use “novel textile sensors” to detect activity type and impact force. Data transmits through a “featherweight, detachable anklet,” over BlueTooth, to a companion app.
To trick out your smooth moves, Austin Powers-style, there’s the $270 Logbar ring. Slip it on, learn a few gestures, boom! The (decidedly chunky) ring turns on the TV, checks the weather, turns on the lights, uploads a photo, and so on. Great if you don’t mind looking like you’re plucking imaginary flies out of the air. One catch: The app has to be on and active for the ring to work.
Speaking of chunky: New this year is a big, plastic, waterproof bracelet, called “Child Angel.” With its built-in GPS, your kids will never lose you again!
Tired of scraping the gunk off your grill? This one’s for you: The Grillbot. Like a Roomba, for your grill! Each 30 minute cleaning cycle uses three “powerful electric motors” to de-gunk your BBQ. Comes in four colors for $130.
Lastly: H+ Technologies calls its invention “Magic Box.” We call it holographic TV, baby! Perfect for a CES. Invented by Masters graduates of the Centre for Digital Media, the Magic Box converts 2D content into holographic 3D, displayed inside the box. Bonus: You can use it to charge your phone and tablet, too.
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.