Women Executives Discuss Work-Life Balance

By Hugh Bailey
Connecticut Post, Bridgeport.

Bonnie Hammer hedged.

One of the most powerful women in her field, when asked the inevitable question of whether women can have it all, Hammer said they can — but not all at once.

Hammer, who leads the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group, said being successful means being “willing to accept the fact that you won’t always feel perfect.”

The Westport resident spoke in front of a crowded Schine Auditorium at Sacred Heart University last week in the latest in a series of talks held by Linda McMahon, the former head of WWE and two-time Senate candidate who is also a major Sacred Heart donor. The series features conversations about the challenges facing women in corporate America.

Hammer said balancing her career and family life has been a constant challenge, and she has succeeded by be willing to learn, and to fail. “You have to be willing to work, trip, fall and pick yourself up again,” she said.

Hammer’s responsibilities include oversight of cable brands including USA, Syfy, E!, Bravo and more. She has been named to Fortune’s list of “50 Most Powerful Women” and Vanity Fair’s annual list of “Powers That Be.”

She said she learned early to strive beyond tasks that she knew well. “You have to pay your dues and do anything someone asks, within reason,” she said. “I always volunteered for things a step above what I knew how to do.”

Hammer and McMahon have a relationship that dates to the 1990s when McMahon’s company, then known as WWF, first aired its flagship cable program on USA. “WWE was the most fun I’ve had,” Hammer said.

McMahon, a Greenwich resident, and Hammer each talked about the dearth of women in corporate boardrooms, and how progress is difficult when executives only hire people who remind them of themselves.

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