Growing up in Little Falls, New York, Joella Wind may not have always dreamed of becoming a telecommunications executive. But a love of science, a keen analytical mind, and parents who encouraged her to follow her interests wherever they might lead her on a path that placed her at the top echelon of cable telecommunications managers .
Now Group Vice President, Sales Operations for Charter Communications’ large commercial telecommunications unit, Spectrum Enterprise, Wind oversees a 350-member team that spans sales operations, sales enablement, sales analytics, sales planning and field marketing. A 25-year veteran of the telecommunications industry, Wind has consistently innovated into new territories throughout his career leveraging his versatility, in-depth knowledge of complex products and services, data and the ability to motivate teams to bring new products to market.
But it wasn’t just a love of technology that launched her career. Wind said what first attracted her to the University of Rochester — where she earned a bachelor of science degree in optical engineering in 1990 — was the university’s sports teams.
“I wanted to play field hockey in college and UR had a great field hockey team,” Wind said, adding that she offered a major in optical engineering, which also caught her eye. “I always wanted to do something different, something unique, and I was a physics, math and science oriented person. I thought it was something different, challenging. I I can probably get a job with that without going to college and I can play field hockey.
Bitten by the research virus
Although she went on to graduate school (earning an MBA in corporate finance from Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business), it was then that she worked at the prestigious Laser Energy Laboratory at the ‘UR as a student Wind had her first major research experience. The lab, renowned for its work in high-energy physics, also inadvertently influenced his career path.
“This [research] drove me a little crazy, because of all the starting and stopping and I was like, ‘Wow, I’d like to run this lab, not necessarily do this,’” she said.
Wind said his background in technology has been invaluable on the management side of the business, as it has given him the skills to synthesize information, understand the underlying technology and be curious.
“I would start new jobs and have tons of questions that I would write down in meetings so I could ask someone later,” she said. “I think that slant really helps me because everything, no matter what function you’re in, has a slant for the analytical and the quantitative.”
That inquisitive nature also helped her colleagues, said her manager, Jeff Painting, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Spectrum Enterprise, who praised her for her hard work, dedication and competitive spirit.
“His competitive focus is impressive and inspires his team to perform at the highest level,” Painting said. “There is no challenge that she is not ready to take on with a positive determination to succeed.”
Wind’s career in the telecommunications industry was diverse, with stints at Bell Atlantic (later Verizon Communications); Philips Broadband Networks (where she says she learned the cable business); a startup based in Dublin, Ireland; Time Warner Cable, where it created its Business Services team; and Charter, which purchased TWC in 2016. In her current position, she oversees all sales operations and unit enabling functions.
Search for supporters
Although she never had a formal “mentor,” Wind says most of her managers have been exceptionally supportive and supportive throughout her career. “I feel like when you do a really good job, your leaders support you and support you in what you want to do in your career,” Wind said. “I had that a bit.”
And while she occasionally reaches out to former bosses “when I need someone to get me back on track,” she is also very active in advising young women through mentorship programs at Spectrum as well as at the University of Rochester. Part of that comes from her mother, she said, who was the principal of a vocational school that Wind visited periodically to talk to female students in the welding and carpentry programs about non-traditional roles. ■