#WomensHistoryMonth at Cox Enterprises: Get to Know Kim Guthrie
In celebration of Women's History Month, female leaders from across Cox Enterprises are sharing insights from their experience throughout the month of March. Kim Guthrie is Cox Media Group’s president.
What women inspire you and why?
It really starts with my own mom. My mom and dad both worked full time, and my mom somehow also managed to be my Girl Scout leader, teach me to sew, put dinner on the table every night and bake amazing homemade pies and cookies. My mom never went to college, but in one of her jobs, she ended up being a draftsman for Caterpillar Tractor. She worked so hard and yet always managed to make time to listen to me talk about my day at school. Both of my parents encouraged me and my siblings to go to college and told us repeatedly that we could do anything. I worked a part-time job all the way through high school and college and took out student loans to pay for college – but having that college education was very important to my parents, especially my mom.
I’ve also always loved and respected Carol Burnett. I grew up watching her and even at a young age, I always found her to be one of the funniest people, ever. As a woman, she exuded a form of confidence and self-deprecating humor that I had never seen before. She was incredibly warm, relatable and authentic, and her facial expressions just cracked me up. I still watch some of those old episodes, and she is just timelessly funny. I loved that she was able to also be a mom and wife, as well as a serious career woman — hosting her own weekly variety show in the 1970’s. She managed to do all of this, and yet she still was so incredibly hilarious, real and approachable. I loved seeing all of those facets of Carol Burnett and am still in awe of her.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I think it has something to do with belief and support. You need someone to point out that special talent, tell you that you’re capable and support you. This support could come from a parent, teacher, manager, co-worker, friend or a spouse. If you have that little bit of "gas” in your tank, it’s easier for you to believe in yourself, especially early in your career. Then there’s that adage that “behind every good man, there’s a good woman.” Flip that phrase around, and I’m confident I would never have been as successful in my various jobs if I didn’t have a great supporter and cheerleader in my husband, Todd.
He’s been the rock of our family and has always rooted me on in my career, while also raising our three daughters. Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg says that the most important decision in a woman’s career is whom she chooses as her life partner. Most jobs are not 9-5 positions these days, so it takes a team effort on the home front to handle the kids, the house, lacrosse practice, doctor’s appointments and sick kids who are home from school. The best thing that can happen for women is having more men or significant others pick up their share of the duties at home. If the house and the family truly are managed by both parents, then women can have a fair shot at pursuing their career dreams, too. There are only so many hours in the day.
What will be the biggest challenge and opportunity for the generation of women behind you?
I still find that women are reluctant to apply for a job because they think they’re not ready for it. Is anyone ever truly fully ready for the next responsibility? Men usually are more confident about throwing their hats in the ring for a next-level position, whether they have the experience or not. I wish more women would have the courage to raise their hand and go for it.
What are the best and worst decisions you've ever made?
Aside from how we’ve raised our family, my best career decision was having the courage to pick up our little family in 1998 and join Cox when we moved from the Midwest to New York. It was a pivotal move in my career to join this company -- and not an easy move. My worst decisions generally happen when I don’t trust my gut on something or someone.
What is your perspective on work/life balance?
It’s always a struggle. But for me, it comes down to two main things: smart time management and knowing how to delegate wisely. The key to time management on the job is to hire talented people and then let them run with projects. The work may not always get done the way you would have done it, but people learn by doing and, many times, it will be done better than if you had done it yourself. At home, you have to accept help and not to be afraid to delegate. I can clean a mean toilet, don’t get me wrong, but eventually it was worth it to pay someone to clean the bathrooms so that I could spend that time with my daughters when I was home.
What career advice do you have for others?
Have the courage to raise your hand for additional responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to try and try again. Ask for help. Never stop learning … always be green and growing.
About Cox Enterprises
Cox Enterprises is a leading communications, media and automotive services company. With revenues exceeding $20 billion and approximately 60,000 employees, the company's major operating subsidiaries include Cox Communications (cable television distribution, high-speed Internet access, telephone, home security and automation, commercial telecommunications and advertising solutions); Cox Automotive (automotive-related auctions, financial services, media and software solutions); and Cox Media Group (television and radio stations, digital media, newspapers and advertising sales rep firms).
The company's major national brands include Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book and Manheim. Through Cox Automotive, the company's international operations stretch across Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America. To learn more about Cox's commitment to people, sustainability and our communities, please visit CoxCSRReport.com.