#WomensHistoryMonth at Cox Enterprises: Get to Know Susie Gray

#WomensHistoryMonth at Cox Enterprises: Get to Know Susie Gray

Susie Gray is publisher of the Austin American-Statesman.
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Monday, March 14, 2016 - 8:00am

CAMPAIGN: Cox Media Group


In celebration of Women's History Month, female leaders from across Cox Enterprises are sharing insights from their experience throughout the month of March. Susie Gray is publisher of the Austin American-Statesman.

What women inspire you and why?

I am inspired by so many women around me as I go through life.  It may be the 18-year-old aspiring writer -- just accepted to Pratt -- who recently asked how she can pursue her passion for writing, while also learning the business side of media. I am inspired by my attorney, a highly respected professional who has mentored a number of practicing attorneys in Austin – and has reinvented her career this past year. Yet again, she has a huge amount of energy and passion for what she does. I’m also inspired by women who work here at the Statesman and are soaring at what they do, developing their leadership and executive skills, while learning to balance home and family at the same time.


What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership? 

One of the most significant barriers to female leadership is the struggle to balance work and family life; and that sometimes simply translates into time. I believe companies have a responsibility to create a culture where emerging leaders know that we will support their development and help them to balance their work responsibilities with their personal lives. We have to give them permission – indeed, we have to encourage them – to make the right decision about being at kindergarten roundup or the Valentine’s Day party or to work from home, when necessary. I’ve known companies where employees just assume that they can’t make those decisions and don’t even ask. I’m very proud to work for a company that holds us to a higher standard because they understand the value of people and our pool of emerging leaders.


What will be the biggest challenge and opportunity for the generation of women behind you?

The biggest opportunity is that so many barriers are being eliminated, so the playing field is leveling in terms of pay, benefits, and opportunities.  The biggest challenge is probably a personal one. As a female, you still have to make career decisions that are right for you and right for your family. Even if every barrier is broken down, it still requires a lot of energy, time, emotional stress and commitment to make it work.


What are the best and worst decisions you've ever made?

The best decision I ever made was to move to Austin, Texas. Over the years, I have had so many wonderful jobs and such great experiences, especially in the media industry. But the job in Austin, and my life in Austin, has turned out to be the best of times.  The best decisions, at least professionally, were always when I decided the time was right to accept a new challenge. In fact, that’s what has kept me passionate and reenergized throughout my career.

Worse decisions? Fortunately, none were catastrophic or that I dwell on. There were hard, tough decisions. Like deciding to move to Detroit as a single mom with my 11- and 12-year-old daughters, or deciding to accept a job at Gannett’s corporate headquarters and “commute” between Virginia and Michigan for a couple of years -- and doing it for a second time five years later. Deciding to accept the publisher position in Austin without ever having visited the market. All were hard decisions, but every one has paid off. Life lesson? It’s okay to take risks. You have to go with your gut sometimes.


What is your perspective on work/life balance?

Well, the key word is balance.  My simple advice: You are in control so, control it – don’t let it control you. Know the “must do’s” – at work and at home, work around them and do your best to control the rest. Yes, occasionally there will be a collision of the “must do’s” and when that happens, ask for advice. Get help with those decisions. I’ve never encountered a situation that cannot be worked out.  What I’ve learned over time is to schedule it; really, put the “life” stuff on your calendar just like you do the work stuff. Whether it’s something with your kids or a yoga class or book club. And give yourself permission to do the “life” stuff. Have I always done it well? No. Like most skills or competencies, it’s something you develop over time. I try to let my experience help me guide others to do a better job, and to learn that skill earlier in their careers.


About Cox Enterprises: 

Cox Enterprises is a leading communications, media and automotive services company. With revenues of $18 billion and approximately 55,000 employees, the company's major operating subsidiaries include Cox Communications (cable television distribution, high-speed Internet access, telephone, home security and automation, commercial telecommunications and advertising solutions); Cox Automotive (automotive-related auctions, financial services, media and software solutions); and Cox Media Group (television and radio stations, digital media, newspapers and advertising sales rep firms). The company's major national brands include Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Manheim, Savings.com and Valpak. To learn more about Cox's commitment to people, sustainability and our communities, please visit CoxCSRReport.com.