Barbara and I worked together at NCTA. I think she joined NCTA in 1981 and I had started the year before, as the head of marketing and programming. I was there through the 1980s, and then I left in the 1990s. When she joined NCTA, she had come from a position with the Grocery Manufacturers of America, so she knew about groceries when she joined. But she was a quick study. She was an organizational whiz and she took on the convention and figured out how to manage that thing that was on a rocket of growth. And she was also very early into IT and computers and technology, and pushed NCTA to innovate on a lot of fronts. Barbara has always had a big interest in technology, and she was a real leader when it came to databases and how to process registration. For years, she was pushing us in the direction of using computers.
We remain great pals and we still work together. At CTAM, we help with the convention; we’re doing several sessions with her.
What she’s chosen to feature at the convention has positioned the industry technically. Working with her, she’s very thoughtful and she is really in tune with the message of the industry and the CEOs and is always looking for ideas that further those goals. It keeps you real honest.
Being marketers, my marketing guys are always dreaming up crazy schemes and ideas, and she has a gentle persuasive way of saying, maybe a better way to do it would be this way.
She’s also incredibly loyal. She has very longstanding relationships with the people she works with, her vendors, certainly the members. I would think that some of the MSO CEOs would cite her loyalty to them and the NCTA mission for all these years. She’s still using the same convention exhibit company and production company that she’s used since she started.
Then there’s the Broadband Home on the first floor of NCTA’s new offices. The Broadband Home has been at the convention for a few years, where they built a home in the exhibit hall and showed how all the technology that would be used by consumers, and it was a huge hit.
When they designed the new office building, at the base of Capitol Hill, she did a new Broadband Home in the office building, so they can showcase cable’s amazing technologies to policy-makers, visiting delegations from other countries, to members. She is justifiably proud of this. She is the one who executed this and made it a reality. That’s not an easy thing to pull off; it is fraught with all kinds of political decisions as to whose technology you showcase, how you get all the key vendors included, lots of interesting questions. And she’s good at that.
My favorite part of the year is that, after each of our shows, we treat each other to some kind of a new food adventure. Barbara is a foodie and knows the trendiest new places. She gives me three choices, and I can weigh in a little bit, but she chooses the restaurant and what we eat. It’s always interesting. We’ve done every kind of food you can imagine. She loves Chinese food and Indian food, of course. We’ve gone to hole-in-the-wall dives and more expensive places. We try them all.
Char Beales is president and CEO of CTAM.