By Anna Harrison
Today, as the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Cox Communications, Sujata Gosalia leads her team on the cutting edge of technology to shape the future of the media landscape. It all started with her love of television, which “stretches way back,” she told FUTURE NOW Founder and CEO Peggy Kim in a FUTURE NOW Leadership Talk on September 22.
“I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky as a kid of immigrants,” Gosalia told Kim, “and [TV has] always been a window to the world for me and getting to see things I normally wouldn’t get the opportunity to see.”
Thus, began a love of storytelling, and while Gosalia initially thought she would help tell stories through a career in journalism, she pivoted once she realized the possibilities that the business and technological side of things offered. She earned two degrees from the University of Pennsylvania: one in international studies, and another in economics from The Wharton School. She later went on to get a master’s degree from the London School of Economics.
Gosalia emphasized the intersection of technology and media, two areas that often are presented as opposites. "Technology actually enables content creation and storytelling in new and different ways. They are not separate fields. They are actually highly intersectional, and understanding one actually helps you be better at the other."
Gosalia credits her experience on a project to help "a set of publishers redefine how they were going to bring their content from the physical world into the digital world” as foundational to this understanding and the trajectory of her career.
To those who might have never considered a career on the technology side of the media business, she encouraged the audience to “collect capabilities” and build upon them, and singled out intellectual curiosity as one of the most important qualities to possess.
In the ever-shifting world of technology and media, Gosalia shared that it’s important never to become stagnant but to be curious, be proactive, and constantly explore new things.
She applies this mindset with her team as well, where she works to drive innovation as they serve their customers. “There’s a lot more innovation and new tech being built,” she said, “but I think the magic happens when it meets a customer problem…new or old [technology], are we actually making our customers’ lives better?”
"What technology really needs these days are people who are willing to think customer-back. How will people use this? How does this solve problems for them in their daily lives. And so, how should I think about the propositions that I'm delivering? And that, married with how the technology is evolving can create great benefits for our society."
On the topic of leadership, Gosalia believes in “experiential learning" and adapting one's leadership style to each team. “Value is created by the place where our people serve other people,” she explained. “My job is to support those who are creating value… Let them be amazing, smart, talented creative geniuses… and let me just make sure things are out of their way to do that.”
For Gosalia, leadership is all about service and it’s also about creating a more equitable workspace. Diversity and inclusion are near and dear to her heart. “I know what it feels like to be the other. You feel less than… and I never want anybody to feel that way.”
At Cox, she has been an executive sponsor for employee resource groups that build awareness and allyship, and knows the importance of sharing her own journey to both educate and inform others. She works to make sure that diversity is as fundamental to Cox and “as important as financials.”
She concluded her talk with this final thought: “Life is too short to be in environments where your values do not align to the values of the place where you are. Let your values guide you, because they will be good guides for you.”