#WomensHistoryMonth at Cox Enterprises: Get to Know Mary Robert
In celebration of Women's History Month, female leaders from across Cox Enterprises are sharing insights from their experience throughout the month of March. Mary Robert is Cox Media Group’s vice president of human resources.
What women inspire you and why?
The women who are my “she-roes” and inspirations are from my early years with my mom and two amazing grandmothers, who I carry with me always. These were strong, determined women who not only encouraged me, but provided their unwavering love and support during my formative years. Their dream was for our generation to get a solid education, a good job and be better than their generation. Then along my journey, I was introduced to some amazing everyday women who were in education, religion, the workforce and politics. I’ve learned so much from them about their journeys and took away traits that I wanted to emulate in my career and life. I was and will always be in awe of Shirley Chisolm, Coretta Scott King, Oprah Winfrey and the poetic work of Maya Angelou, which I love. Lastly, I have four amazing sisters who are my best friends and very important women in my life. My desire is that my granddaughter and nieces see me in the same light as I did with my mom and grandmothers.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I don’t like to categorize, but I think a big barrier is family and competing priorities with career and family. From my own perspective, I’ve always been in a role that required travel, and early in my career I found myself being a single parent with a two-year-old. Without the support of my family, I don’t know how I would have been able to grow my career, be involved with my church and the community without knowing my son was in good hands. If you don’t have that luxury, a key is to find a good support network that will allow you to focus on what’s important to you. Another point I would make is that females were somewhat late arriving to the leadership table, whereas the men were always seen as the head of the household providing for their family. I think we’ve caught up quite nicely, especially when I see women leading in significant roles.
What will be the biggest challenge and opportunity for the generation of women behind you?
The dynamics of our world are constantly changing. It’s more important than ever to research and find your passions early on that will allow you to be in a fulfilling career and provide a great quality of life for yourself and your family. There are more opportunities now than I could have ever imagined when I entered college. I know math and science are subjects we tend to shy away from, but the world of technology is absolutely fascinating. Be diligent and never give up on your dreams. I see the next generation of women having the opportunity to chart multiple courses in their careers.
What are the best and worst decisions you've ever made?
When I think about the best decision in my career, it was coming to work for Cox Television in 2007 prior to the formation of Cox Media Group. I felt so inadequate when I first joined because I was meeting so many people who had more than 20 years of service with the company. One day I asked someone why they stayed so long, and I now realize the answer. I quote: “I never had a reason to leave. I have been given developmental opportunities and new assignments that have allowed me to grow my career.” I can’t remember who told me this, but I can certainly attest to that myself after almost 10 years with this great company.
I think the worst decision early on in my life was staying within my walls of comfort too long. It’s easy to remain with a company or in a situation too long because it’s comfortable. Once I got out of my comfort zone I discovered a whole new world outside of the comfort walls I had around me. I see what I missed out on, but I feel like I’m still on the journey of discovery and learning.
What is your perspective on work/life balance?
I don’t think this question will ever not be asked, but for me it’s all about priorities and boundaries. It’s certainly not a one size fits all. I know there are times when I’m juggling more than my hands can hold, but then I look forward to those breathable moments when I can take some time for myself and family. My calendar is my best friend. I use it to manage my professional and business life; it’s amazing I can protect the time I need when I need it. I love what I do, but I’ve had to step back and say I’m not a heart surgeon. If I schedule a couple of long weekends or a vacation, life will continue. I also learned when to shut down emails in the evening and on the weekends. If I didn’t, my mind would always be focused on work and not my entire life.
What career advice do you have for others?
Find a mentor. They don’t have to be formal mentors, but learn from people you meet along your journey. Some will inspire you to be like them. Others will be the ones who may influence you to follow a different path. They key is observe and learn what makes you better. You own you, be like a sponge; take advantage of all that’s available to you. Try to find a different way to get better every day.
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.