New York Women in Communications added seven award winners to the elevated status of “women who change the world” during Monday afternoon's Matrix Awards luncheon, attended by about 1,000 people at New York's Waldorf Astoria.
Ryan Seacrest, TV and radio host and producer, was on-hand to present an award to Bonnie Hammer, chairman of the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group, who talked about coming full-circle in her career. In the early days, she spoke about working with young, talented, and creative people who “just wanted to be part of something bigger than ourselves.”
As years passed, there was the danger of letting other agendas and fear of failure creep in and the challenge of climbing an increasingly steep corporate ladder or face being left behind. Hammer likened her state of mind today to that of a quarterback “getting to a place of quiet and calm and focusing on only what is important, intuitively sensing quickly and decisively what is happening on the field and tuning out what doesn't move the game forward.”
Presenter Barry Diller, chairman and senior executive of IAC and chairman and senior executive of Expedia, said award winner Kara Swisher, co-executive editor of All Things D, moved to Silicon Valley before it was made of silicon and became a leading and well-respected reporter during “the wild ride of the Internet.” He added that she is referred to as an “equal opportunity terrifier,” having made Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg sweat and even got Steve Jobs and Bill Gates to “play nice” while being interviewed together.
Swisher was frank about being thankful to be in a room full of XX chromosomes, adding that in the digital world, she is surrounded by an “endless sea of XYs, some that are very strange dudes.”
Swisher joked that Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg was actually a hologram created by Yahoo's Marissa Meyer adding that Sandberg “elegantly and effortlessly leaned in” whereas had she attempted to lean in “would have promptly fallen over.”
She added that Google execs were aliens out to destroy the world via Goggle glasses. “Anyone who wears them is “rendered undateble and consequently unable to procreate,” she joked.
On a more serious note, Swisher added that “Silicon Valley is largely run by men and not enough women are using technology to share their voice.” She added that beyond tweeting, technology has the ability to “bring light to places that don't have light,” citing the use of smartphones to bring information and education to schools in Third World countries.
At an early age, the importance of communication was ingrained in Anne Finucane, Matrix award winner and global strategy and marketing officer at Bank of America. For six months in grade school, Finucane lost most of her hearing, which she calls “the greatest gift of my life.” It taught her a lot about human nature and that communications is not all about language but visual cues such as eye contact and expression. Finucane said she has used those lessons through every negotiation and ad campaign she's created.
Other honorees were Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan; Mindy Grossman, CEO of the Home Shopping Network; Jacki Kelley, CEO of IPG Mediabrands North America and president of global clients at Universal McCann; and Audra McDonald, singer and actress, who was presented the award by New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Joan Rivers emceed the event.