Katrina Cukaj has watched CNN go from the biggest player in cable news to just one of many in her nearly 14 years on the ad-sales team. But now all eyes are on her as she tries to reposition the network to advertisers as more than a news channel.
With Jeff Zucker at the helm, Ms. Cukaj's job is changing as CNN expands into programming like travel and lifestyle. "It's exciting with Jeff onboard," Ms. Cukaj, a life-long New Yorker, said. "He is broadening the definition of news and, as a result, the spaces we can play in."
Ms. Cukaj's experience in startups (she helped launch FX), will no doubt be useful as CNN courts advertisers in these new categories. "I learned how to sell a network that was in a minuscule number of homes, she said about her experience at FX. "I got kicked out of a lot of offices."
That didn't keep her from trying. The best advice she ever received was from one of her mentors, the late Frank Pfaff, an executive she met in her first job, at Blair Television: "There are times you are put into a position you need to grow into. It could be scary, but never be afraid of an opportunity that may seem too big for you; be driven by the challenge of it."
Dog, Sniffy the Great, named by her son David and inspired by a character in Bill Cosby's children's books
First job ever:
A salesperson at a shoe store called Revelations.