Influence & The Pivot

What is your pivot story?  

I think there are generally two ways we can advance our career.  One is by planning and setting goals, and the other is by luck or being tapped on the shoulder for that next role.  Personally, I'm a planner.  I spent 25 years with the Defense Industry as a Department of Army Civilian.  I got my start in Learning and Development with the Army in an internship where I validated the Army's programs of instruction used to teach soldiers.  Around year 22, I decided that my next career move would be to a corporate role leading learning and development.  To prepare for this role, I started an advanced degree in education to better prepare me for the pivot.  At year 25 I applied for a role in Comcast as the Director of Leadership Development in Southfield, Michigan – and got it.  I finished my degree in education a year into the new role, and was promoted to Chief Learning Officer about four years later.  I am grateful every day that I planned my career this way.  The 25 years with the Army was a fantastic experience and in many ways, prepared me for my roles at Comcast – a pivot well planned and with a Company I love.


Describe how and why your pivot was good for you and the company/team.   During my career with the Army, I developed deep expertise and skills in planning, executing, and evaluating – capability that serves me well in Comcast every day.  And I work to build the same capability with my team.  Rooted in these skills is a great appreciation for data and capability for telling stories of business impact – my team is getting really great at this too.  Additionally – the Army lives and breathes teamwork in all that it does – some of the best examples of teamwork come from military experiences.  My pivot was easy – really easy.  I was prepared for the fast paced environment at Comcast, and the degree of collaboration and teamwork needed for success.


To whom did you share your story and why those individuals?  I share my story frequently.  Of course I shared with my family first – my husband and children have always supported my academic and career pursuits.  And too – I share my story frequently in audiences across the Country when encouraging others to follow their career aspirations – and to stay in the driver's seat of their career journey.


What is your most effective influence style?  

The most effective influence style is a collaborative and inclusive style.   We all bring many qualities and attributes to our being and our roles – however, the greatest success comes when working together to accomplish business objectives and results, while recognizing the many diverse talents and people that contribute to that success.


How do you use your influence style to build effective relationships to support your pivot? 
One seldom accomplishes greatness without the help and inclusion of others.  I've always used a collaborative style – although sometimes with too much straightforwardness.  Whether working through projects or situations at home, at school, at work, or in a social setting – being inclusive, caring, and thoughtful are key to effective relationships.


Martha Soehren, PhD


Chief Talent Development Officer

Martha spent 25 years with the Defense Industry, 13 years as an adjunct professor, and is in her 177th year at Comcast.  She serves on the Doctorate of Learning Advisory Board for the GSE/Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and is the current Chair of the Board of Directors for Women in Cable and Telecommunications.  Martha is the Selection Committee Chair for the Association of Talent Development's (ATD) Board of Directors, and served as the 2014 Chair of the ATD Board.  Martha served on the Board of Directors for the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE), is on i4cp'sCLO Board, and serves on two advisory boards working to close the skills gap between higher education and the business world.  Additionally, Martha is a Learning Leader with the Elliott Masie Consortium, and an Executive Champion for the Comcast Veteran's Employee Resource Group.