Bec Heap: Embracing Change and Looking Outward to Reimagine our Video Future
Q: You came to Comcast from Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Tell us about your career path.
A: After graduating from the University of Sydney with both a BA and a BS, I wasn’t sure how to turn my majors in psychology, history and industrial relations into a job. I was fortunate to be offered a position as a management consultant and immediately gravitated towards consumer industries and media. I loved how tangible and impactful they were on people’s day-to-day lives. From 2005 to 2012, I worked at two telecommunications and media companies. Australia is a small market (there are more Xfinity customers than there are Aussie’s in the world), so by default in a small market you very quickly get exposed to the end-to-end operations of a business. I learned so much about leadership, operations and partnerships. In 2014, I was approached by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to run strategy and digital for the television business. I eventually took on management of the network’s four free to air channels alongside the VOD service, and later added our national radio network and audio on demand service to my remit. My challenge was to transform our content strategy and operations from a linear first with on demand catch up model, to an audience led, digital first approach. And then in early 2019, Comcast came calling.
Q: Moving your young family across the globe for a new job is no small feat. What interested you most about joining Comcast?
A: Australia has about 21 million people and while I absolutely love it, I wanted to be part of the team setting the course of change for our industry and the size, scale and increasingly global reach of Comcast is unbeatable. Even from 10,000 miles away, the strength of the Xfinity brand and product portfolio is clear and I was excited to join Xfinity Consumer Services in April 2019. The video landscape is changing daily, and I am excited by that challenge. And I should give my three kids and husband a massive shout out for joining me on this new adventure – they make every day fun.
Q: How do you see video consumption continuing to change?
A: The video landscape is constantly evolving and it’s getting harder for consumers to find the content they love – which is why our X1 and Flex platforms are so valuable. There’s a segment of our customers who really value the video bundle and experience, and a growing segment of customers who prefer to stream content over the Internet. Our goal is to give our customers, regardless of whether they take video or just Internet from us, more choice in how, when and where they access their favorite content across platforms – making it easier to find content thanks to universal search and the Xfinity voice remote. We now have almost 200 streaming choices on X1 and Flex including Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube TV – with Peacock, Hulu and CBS All Access coming soon.
Q: How has your global experience impacted how you’re approaching your role at Comcast?
A: My career to date has taught me three valuable lessons. First, embrace change and transformation – it’s often hard, but is always rewarding. The challenges that we have in our video business are an invitation to reinvent, and that’s exciting. Second, look up and out to the world. Being from a small market, we never compared ourselves to direct competitors. We always looked across industries and around the world to see what innovations were driving growth or solving consumer pain points. It’s a great way to be inspired and find new thinking. And finally, build bridges. Collaboration and trust takes time to build but pays off in spades – that’s probably a lesson we’ve all learned the hard way!
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in video and telecommunications?
A: I grew up with a working mother at a time when it was unusual to do so. She’s been successful in multiple fields – as a science teacher, in telecommunications and today in executive education. She pushed through glass ceilings because she loved what she did. That passion – to jump out of bed every day and pursue what you love – was an incredible gift to me.
Q: As one of the cable industry’s most powerful women of 2019, what advice do you have for women entering the industry?
A: Stay open minded, learn every day, have fun and find friends and mentors. Believe it or not, I still have a bi-weekly 1:1 with my manager from 15 years ago, she’s been an extraordinary figure in my career and life.
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I love spending time with my family, exploring new places, playing board games and watching Survivor. And since moving to Philly, I’ve also added watching Sixers games to the list.