Early in her tenure at General Electric, Beth Comstock managed to tick off her new boss, chairman, and CEO Jack Welch.
Why Beth Comstock’s Telephone Habits Annoyed Jack Welch
It seems that Comstock’s urgent phone manner, and particularly her abrupt way of ending calls – “OK, OK bye” – irked Welch, who was named manager of the century by Fortune in 1999. Comstock’s experience at that time, which included over a decade in corporate communications at NBC, CBS, and Turner, had trained her to conduct business at breakneck speed.
That didn’t sit well with Welch who, in an effort to show her what it was like to be on the receiving end of one her speed-of-light sign-offs, began crank-calling Beth Comstock, and hanging up on her. Ultimately, the two had a talk at his pace. Welch wanted Comstock to slow things down. “He said, ‘You’ve got to waddle in it,'” she recalls.
Comstock’s New Role At NBC Universal
It’s safe to say, there has been little waddling of late for Comstock. Most likely, the pace of her phone conversations has only picked up. Ever since she was named president of NBC Universal digital media and market development in December of 2005, the 46-year old Virginia native has found herself in one of the more volatile, thrilling, and waddle-flee roles in the media business.
During a time when all the broadcast networks – and pretty much all of traditional media – have been forced to respond to rapidly evolving consumer expectations, a wildly unpredictable Web landscape and pressure from advertisers and Wall Street to become more accountable, Comstock is charged with guiding NBC through numerous high-profile changes. Observers say that Comstock, despite not growing up in network programming or coming from some hot Internet startup, has, in less than 10 months, quickly exerted her influence on just how NBC does business in the era of the iPod, MySpace, and YouTube.
What’s In The Future For Beth Comstock?
In some ways, the hiring of Comstock, who reports directly to NBCU chairman and CEO Bob Wright, could be considered unorthodox when comparing the CVs of her counterparts. Maybe GE is grooming her for a bigger role at the company.