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Michelle Rice, Senior Vice President, Distribution & Strategy, TV One

Michelle RicePlease tell us what your career path has been.  For instance, when and where did you start working in communications?  When did you start working for the cable industry? 
I have worked in communications related fields since I was in college.  Internships are a great opportunity to get experience and a better understanding of the vast opportunities in the communications field.  I started working in the cable industry through the Walter Kaitz Cable Management Program shortly after graduating from graduate school.

What skills do you think a cable communicator needs to advance in his or her career?  How did you acquire those skills? 
One of the most important skills is to be a good writer.  I majored in Journalism, so writing was a fundamental part of my college curriculum.

How have the communications skills you've acquired helped your career advancement? 
Having the ability to effectively communicate with peer, vendors, clients, and teams helps build strong team dynamics.

How do you keep up with communications trends and changes in the cable industry?  Which of these changes or trends do you think is the most important to your career? 
I keep up with trends by reading relevant trade publications and working in industry/trade organizations.  I also participate in continuing education and industry training programs provided by organizations like WICT, NAMIC, CTAM, and ACC. This has been important to my career by keeping me current on important issues in the industry and enabling me to network and meet other executives.

Ann Carlsen, founder and CEO of Carlsen Resources, an executive search firm, said in an interview in CableFAX Daily that this the age of the specialist, and they have become more employable than generalists.  Do you agree with this?  If so, how have you seen it reflected in your career or in those of your colleagues? 

Ideally, you are both.  I'd suggest that the most employable people have a strong general skill set and continue to specialize and hone their areas of expertise.  For example, a doctor has the basis foundation in medicine, but may specialize in obstetrics, podiatry, cardiology…etc.  So, an individual aspiring to have a career in the cable industry should acquire the basic foundation for whatever discipline they are pursuing, like for example public relations.  Then look to further specialize in specific areas – like technology.  Once you've mastered technology, then move on to mastering a different area.

Have you had any mentors along the way?  Who has helped you the most and how?  I've had a lot of mentors some formally and other informally. 

Formally, Laureen Ong was my mentor through a NAMIC program.  Informally, I've worked with some wonderful people like former boss Susan Scott, David Zaslav, and current TV One CEO/President Johnathan Rodgers who each have taught me so much – by example - about this industry without even knowing it.

What was the biggest mistake in your career and what did you learn from it? 

Quitting a job I hated before I found a new job was a big mistake.  Besides learning how to live on a tight budget during my period of unemployment, the big lesson is any job is better than no job!

How has membership in professional organizations such as ACC impacted your career? 

ACC has afforded me great networking, industry education, and professional development opportunities.  It's very rewarding to be a part of this group.

Do you have any further career advice for your fellow cable communicators? 

Never stop learning about changes, advances, and innovation in your field.

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