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.
A DSLR and a Dream
Some of you may know that outside of my working passion for technology translation, I’m a beekeeper, and just finished making a documentary film called “Bee People.”
For that reason, this week’s translation aims to shed light on the technologies that enabled it to happen. Because two things are for sure: One, this is not something we could’ve done, easily or otherwise, five years ago. Two: You, too, can make a movie! A real one. Read on.
As my colleague and the director of the film, David Knappe, puts it: We had a DSLR and a dream.
DSLR? Digital Subscriber Line, Right?
Wrong. Probably the most important ingredient in the journey was his “Digital Single Lens Reflex” camera – a “pro-sumer”-grade device, which over the course of the last 14 months captured some 60+hours of HD video about beekeepers, bee rescues, honey festivals, child beekeepers, allergic beekeepers, and even some escapades from the go-to beekeeper of the NY Police Department, Tony “Bees” Planakis.
The camera itself is fairly small (less stuff to lug!), which inevitably prompted questions from onlookers/participants. Not being a camera-aficionado myself, and knowing Dave as a perfectionist, I just figured it was good enough. Each time, though, he puffed up with a seemingly protective pride: “We’re shooting on DSLR.”
Imagine my amusement, then, when finding this DSLR description, on Wikipedia: “’Shot on DSLR’ is a quickly-growing phrase among independent filmmakers. The movement has even inspired a branding: The ‘Shot on DSLR’ badge.”
What’s great about DSLR: One, it’s affordable, at least compared to a professional grade camera. His cost about $1,200. Two, it captures video in HD, and compresses it using H.264. The H.264 part is important for storage – because it’s one thing to capture enough video for a movie. It’s quite another to store it and ship it around.
For all of this process, I was in Denver, and Dave in Hoboken, N.J. – so another big tech contributor was the plentiful existence of broadband, and the emergence of cloud-based “shipping” services, like YouSendIt.com. With those two ingredients, we were able to collaboratively review and edit the footage, as it came together.
Other observations: Should you ever decide to make a movie, know going in that everything takes longer than you’d estimated, usually because this or that device needs something. Batteries, especially. Cords. Offloading footage to solid-state storage.
“Bee People” premiered at the Cable Center in Denver on Nov. 16, and we’re busy now figuring out what needs to happen to sell it. Any tips, you know where to find me…
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.