Career Connections Profile: Anthony Surratt
My job and what it entails:
Group Vice President of Corporate Communications for Time Warner Cable. I’m in the NYC corporate office, overseeing employee communications (we have 51,000 employees), corporate social responsibility, philanthropy and executive communications, and work on corporate reputation and issues management. I’m part of an amazing department led by Chief Communications Officer Ellen East, and I oversee a group of 12 wonderfully talented people.
Cable work history:
Started at Cox Enterprises in Atlanta in 1993 (working for Ellen) and moved to the cable company, Cox Communications, in 1995 (again, working for Ellen). I was involved in every PR function at Cox in my years there. Left in 2008 to join TWC (yep, working for Ellen – I think there’s a pattern emerging here).
Work history B.C. (before cable):
Internal communications at two manufacturing companies.
ACC history and involvement:
I must have joined around 1995. I’ve been on every committee, mainly Beacon Awards and FORUM. I’ve been on the board for several years and am Vice President now.
Favorite ACC member benefit:
I love FORUM and think it’s a worthwhile and educational event. Of course, I also have to mention Beacon Awards and the Mentor Program (with a shout-out to my wonderful mentee, Allison Watters).
First job out of college:
I worked at a manufacturing plant in rural North Carolina. My office, which I shared with four people, was in a trailer outside the large, loud manufacturing plant, which made fiberboard for furniture. I did employee communications, which back then (early ‘90s) involved mainly writing a newsletter. I was the lone communications person, so I flailed a bit, even though in retrospect I learned a lot. When I moved to my second job, at Southwire Company in Carrollton, Ga., I really benefitted from being on an established communications team.
What I’m working on today:
It changes day-to-day, certainly, but on top of my list today are: 1) developing plans for our upcoming corporate social responsibility report; 2) coordinating with a nonprofit partner on a fundraising dinner honoring our CEO Glenn Britt; and 3) about 27 things you’d call “misc. team management.”
Best thing about my job:
Working with smart, talented people and walking to work.
How my job has changed in the past year:
I think social media have changed all of our jobs dramatically. Communicating with customers, employees and others is so different now than just months ago. The risks are greater, but so too are the potential rewards from a communications standpoint. It’s certainly not dull.
If I could change one thing about my job:
I was going to say I’d make all 14 million TWC customers and millions more potential customers fall deeply in love with us, but then I guess I’d be out of a job.
Biggest professional accomplishment:
Michelle Butler will hurt me if I don’t say winning the Golden Beacon Award with my former Cox colleagues.
Worst professional mistake (at least the worst I will admit):
Oh, there are plenty. This one probably isn’t the worst, but it’s one I’ll own up to: Years ago, interviewing for a job, I sent my thank-you letter to the department head with whom I’d just interviewed. I misspelled her first name and so mangled her last name I don’t know how the letter even got to her. But it did. She must have taken pity on poor, stupid me because I actually got the job.
Best lesson I’ve learned in my career:
Do your job and do it well. If you do, the advancement and rewards will come (although they probably won’t be on your schedule and might take different form than you’d imagined). The key is staying focused on what you can control – i.e., doing your job the best you can.
Advice for newer communications pros:
Your career might develop on a different path than you thought it would, but keep an open mind. The key is continuing to grow at whatever you’re doing and at all stages of your career.
Graduated from Anderson University in Indiana; majored in communications (print journalism and PR).
Husband Todd and two dogs, Ginger (the best pound dog ever) and Annabelle (a rescued Dachshund with one tooth in her mouth).
Favorite cable channel(s):
HGTV, TV Land and AMC.
Grew up in southwest Virginia and called Atlanta home for nearly two decades.
What I’m passionate about (besides family, job and the cable industry):
Art and interior design.