Comcast's VP's of business and finance operations describes the company's pandemic pivot
Megan Bishop, the vice president of business and finance operations for Comcast in Oregon and Southwest Washington, has been working from home for the last two years, as have many white-collar workers throughout the state. But her current role at Comcast represents a return to home of a different sort. A native Oregonian, Bishop started working for Comcast’s internal auditing division in Philadelphia, shortly after graduating from the Wharton School with a bachelor’s degree in economics and management. Then she transferred to California and, after 11 years there, returned to Oregon and to the VP role.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How would you describe Comcast’s culture?
We’re certainly very people-focused. I think that would actually surprise a lot of people, the amount of time and effort and focus we put on kind of creating this positive employee experience. I really believe that a great employee experience has a direct impact on our customer experience. I would say there’s so much of a teamwork aspect when it comes to our culture. I think people really show up to help each other, not just at work, but in the community. We try to create a place where people feel good about coming to work, and feel inspired and feel empowered.
What are some of the things that you do to foster that environment?
There’s a whole host of things. We’ve always had huddles and one-on-ones, and there’s a real expectation that we’re spending a lot of time with our employees. That continues to this day. We have real robust employee surveys that we do. We really ask for feedback from our employees. We use that feedback. We have a lot of things around organizational health. So we have organizational health assessments that we do, where I’ll sit down with my directors, and we really assess, “How’s our team? What are some things we could lean into?” We’re creating a culture where people feel good about coming into work.
One thing that’s become apparent in the last couple of years is the size of the digital divide. How has that impacted Comcast culture and the way you do business?
I think the digital divide is front and center in our conversation. That’s how we’re thinking about growth, that’s how we’re thinking about what we can do in our communities to help bridge it. For example, we have a program called Lift Zones, where we’re going into community centers and putting in internet services that they can provide to kids who are doing school. So there’s a lot that happens in that space. It’s always been part of our culture to be part of our communities. My son is visually impaired, and Comcast does a lot of work around accessibility, so that work is very personal to me.
We have also pledged $1 billion to advance digital equity, and that’s incredible. I feel really fortunate to work for a company that, one, has the resources to be able to invest that amount of money, but also the heart to do it. It’s one thing to have the financial backing to be able to do it, but to stand for something that says we’re going to invest in this, this is important to us.
[Following our interview, Comcast provided additional information on its digital equity investments, which include: a three-year goal to create 1,000 Lift Zones at centers like Boys and Girls Clubs; Internet Essentials, which allows low-income people access to Chromebooks and steeply discounted internet service; Comcast RISE, an initiative created to aid minority-owned businesses throughout the state; and grants and partnerships with community organizations.]
Megan Bishop, vice president of business and finance operations at Comcast. Photo by Jason E. Kaplan
Tell me more about the work Comcast has been doing around accessibility.
We have a whole team at headquarters looking at how we interact with our products and services from an accessibility standpoint. There are things like the voice-activated remote, and voice guidance, where it describes what’s happening on the show.
It’s interesting to watch my son — he’s only 9 and interacts more with the iPad because he can see some things on the iPad. I’ve watched a couple shows where they’re describing what they’re doing on it, and it’s pretty cool for him to be able to kind of listen to that and have a better understanding of what’s really happening during the show.
Are there things that Comcast is looking into as a company in terms of addressing the digital divide in addition to the external investments — like in the way you do business?
We’re looking at places that don’t have internet service, or only have service under certain speeds, and we’re looking to build out and see where we can expand further than we’re currently set. There’s a lot of work being done in the rural broadband space, and just looking at where we can expand and build out new places, and how we partner with some cities.
We just finished building out Hubbard, we’re building in Woodburn now, which is really exciting for those communities. Then we’ve got a number of other product projects that are kind of on the docket that we’re working through.
What have been the surprises of the pandemic, from a company standpoint?
I think that the surprise, from an employee standpoint, has been just how seamlessly we were able to transition thousands of employees to working from home. There were some bumpy roads, but looking back, what that took to just get thousands of employees working from a remote space was really impressive.
During this time, too, we’ve had so much civil unrest. We’ve always had a focus on [diversity, equity and inclusion]. We’ve really doubled down in that space, and a lot of good conversations have happened. Working virtually, we’ve actually been able to probably have even more people involved in those conversations. We have a number of employee resource groups. With people working virtually, having virtual events, people able to come on and join those that maybe they weren’t able to do before — we’ve gotten great feedback on those, and how employees feel about being connected to their teammates and to other people.
The other great thing is we’ve been able to have speakers come, because it’s virtual, that employees wouldn’t have been able to hear from before — leaders who maybe wouldn’t have flown out for an in-person event. So the exposure that our employees are getting to different thoughts and different speakers has been really great. From an internal perspective, I think some of the surprises have really just been around the increased level of engagement I think that our employees have been able to have.