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.
How the Wish Lists of Tech People Can Inform Your Holiday Shopping
With one shopping week until Christmas, in a year festooned with “connected devices”, what better way to score gift ideas than to browse the wish lists of the industry’s tech aficionados?
For Sabrina Calhoun, VP of Engineering for Bright House Networks, this year’s must-have is the Firefly Landscape Laser lights (http://bit.ly/12naB8m), “which project thousands of little pinpoints of light on the house, trees and landscape, using laser and holographic technology – it looks like I spent hours stringing lights, when all I did was push the stake in the ground, aim it at the house and plug it in. Too cool!”
Mike Hayashi, EVP of Time Warner Cable’s Advanced Technology Group, likes the NEST thermostat (www.nest.com), a gorgeous little gadget that learns how you like your in-home temps. “All my other geek friends have it,” Hayashi said, which was confirmed by Tony Werner, CTO of Comcast: “Really cool and elegant.”
Werner, Hayashi, and Advance-Newhouse President Nomi Bergman (and yours truly) are all into the pedometer accouterment made by Fitbit (www.fitbit.com), and especially the companion Blu-tooth connected “Aria” scale. (Except maybe the body fat part…)
(Aside: If you too are addicted to 10,000 steps/day, or want to be, try the Nike Fuelband (http://bit.ly/Z0fVAA) — 2x the price of Fitbit, but two things make it better: 1) It’s a bracelet, so it doesn’t fall off. 2, its iPhone app syncs flawlessly.)
Also on Werner’s list: Audible.com’s “Whispersync” (http://bit.ly/TcGBYC ), a Kindle app that lets you switch between reading and listening to a book, while preserving state. “You can be reading a book on the treadmill, stop halfway through chapter 9, then resume with the audible version on the train – and both notes and resume points are shared. Really simple, but cool,” Werner said.
Sree Kotay, SVP and Chief Software Architect, for Comcast, is eyeing Lenovo’s X1 (yes, really, X1) Touch Carbon laptop (http://lnv.gy/UbSc9F .) “It’s a business-class ultra-book with a touch screen – super cool,” Kotay said.
Yvette Kanouff, CTO of Cablevision, is still in thrall with that Corning “Day Made of Glasss” video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cf7IL_eZ38) – “I think that’s the whole house I want! But for now I’d settle for a transparent TV … baby steps.”
Steve Reynolds, household gourmand and SVP/CPE for Comcast, who once quipped that “all vegetables should taste like meat,” hopes to find a KitchenAid sausage grinder (http://bit.ly/UmYNxh) under the tree.
For Howard Pfeffer, SVP/Broadband Engineering for Time Warner Cable, it’s a 3D printed guitar like any of these: http://bit.ly/TSwmMv. “One day,” he said.
Geek out, friends. Merry everything to you!
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.