Winter 2015
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CTDO Magazine

Talent Development at Comcast Cable

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Martha Soehren is chief talent development officer and senior vice president of Comcast University and Comcast Cable. She is chairwoman of the Women in Cable Telecommunications board of directors and is past chairwoman of the Association for Talent Development Board of Directors.


Where does talent development fit into the org chart? Is it under HR or free-standing?

Talent development is aligned under me—so is the talent management function—and I report to the chief human resources officer for Comcast.

How do you define talent development at your company?

Talent development as a function is about developing and growing our star employees, those who are identified as high potentials for advancement in role, level, or for additional scope. It's about developing, guiding, and planning around our talent with the desire of retaining great talent to make our organization even better. We believe in identifying and progressing great people.

The depth to which talent is assessed and developed varies by company. I think that from a formal development perspective, Comcast does this really well. We've proved that through a strong foundation of leadership development programs and the addition of several boot camps that we've developed and delivered over the last 16 months designed specifically around high potentials for a very senior functional role.

The magic in the success of these boot camps is that the deans and senior deans came from the business—executives who live and breathe the business each and every day. The deans and faculty were 100 percent committed to success in the classroom and outside of the classroom—they excelled.

How has this definition evolved for you personally and for Comcast University?

If we look back 3.5 years ago, there wasn't rigor or systems to support the assessment and movement of our talent; today there is. We have invested in new tools and evolved our processes and thinking.

We understand better that we need tools and processes to support us, but more importantly it's valuable to create consistent forums for candid conversation. Our conversations are better, and therefore our planning and actions are more deliberate, more meaningful. This has been a great evolution for us, and we're excited for what's next.


What are the three most important components of talent development within your organization?

Talent development is about the connection of assessing talent, completing the succession planning, and helping with internal talent mobility. Those are three key functions that I lead for the organization.

Internal talent mobility falls within my responsibility, so any time there is an executive-level vacancy within the organization, my team and I work together to define the internal slate based on what we know from our talent assessments, our discussions with talent, and the talent we've developed who are in high-potential programs—and we do a really great job on that. It only makes sense that the talent development function be added to my title, because I'm no longer just training, learning, and development.

Read more from CTDO magazine: Essential talent development content for C-suite leaders.

About the Author

Paul Harris is a freelance writer in Alexandria, Virginia.

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