Empowered — RV’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) for women — strives to foster a community that inspires, supports, empowers, and educates women and allies of all gender identities. And one of our favorite ways to inspire and empower our community is simply by sharing the wisdom of the amazing RV women we get to work with every day.
On this month’s Empowered leaders feature, we hear from Shelley Hoffmann, Senior Director of Content Marketing and Video at Healthgrades. We discuss her work with The WICT Network, her stance on empowerment, and pivotal experiences in her life. Check out her conversation with copyeditor Victoria Lurie below.
Shelley Hoffmann was the 2021 president of the Southeast Chapter of The WICT Network. Founded in 1979 and over 10,000 members strong, The WICT Network is the largest and oldest professional association serving women in media.
Under Shelley’s leadership, the Southeast Chapter – the third-largest chapter in the global network – was recently awarded the 2021 Inspire Award. This award recognized the Southeast Chapter as a top performer in programming, marketing and communications, governance, and membership. The Southeast Chapter was also awarded 1st Place for 2021 Programming Excellence.
With 24 domestic and international chapters, The WICT Network is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to creating and empowering women leaders to transform the media, entertainment, and technology industry.
The WICT Network provides professional development programs, commissions original gender research, and supports a B2B network that advances women. Local chapters of The WICT Network are available in most Red Ventures markets including the Carolinas, Northern California, Latin America, New York City, Rocky Mountain, the UK, and others.
Victoria Lurie: Why did you join The WICT Network?
Shelley Hoffmann: When I was overseeing various productions at the Food Network, I led a mostly male crew, and I was the only woman in the control room most days. I had reached an impasse in my career and sought counsel from my HR rep. She saw something in me that I hadn’t yet recognized in myself, and nominated me to attend The WICT Network’s Rising Leaders Program.
The week of professional development workshops changed the trajectory of my career, and I promised to pay it forward in any way I could. From there, I joined the New York chapter and later the Southeast chapter. I became a volunteer and ultimately joined the board.
I believe in having spaces where women leaders and allies can come together for professional development. I’m also hopeful for the time when we’ll just be referred to as “leaders” rather than “women leaders.”
VL: How did it feel to accept the Inspire award on behalf of the Southeast chapter?
SH: So proud! We are a working board of 38 women and men. We put in the time and are deeply committed to empowering women in our industry. Each and every board member and volunteer contributes passion, expertise, business acumen, and mentoring skills. At the forefront is our membership. We are of service to them and their professional growth – award or no award.
VL: Which particular chapter programming event or moment during your tenure are you most proud of?
SH: It’s so hard to narrow down. The scope and depth of our programming is key to our success.
- Black Lives Matter & Social Activism: Where Are We Now? Where Do We Go Next, was a candid discussion about activism and the progress of the Black Lives Matter movement.
- The New LGBTQIA Workforce Has Arrived provided insight into what companies are doing to ensure employees do not feel the need to hide a crucial part of their identity at work.
- Recognizing the importance of maintaining forward progress on key social initiatives was at the heart of our Women’s Workplace Empowerment: #MeToo event.
- There were high-profile panels like Pivot to Your Passion that offered encouragement to attendees facing or considering a change in their career path, whether forced or voluntarily.
- Phenomenal Woman: The Secret of My Success spotlighted extraordinary women including Princess Beatrice York.
- Lift Every Voice: Empowering Women in Media and Content, provided participants with continued access to visionary leaders from Comcast, HBO Max, Tyler Perry Studios, and WarnerMedia.
- Tech It Out offered opportunities to learn more about 5G, the Cloud, CryptoCurrency, and Strategic Thinking in Tech.
- We offered monthly Executive Roundtable sessions for senior leaders and workshops on design thinking.
But I might be most proud of celebrating International Day of the Girl with the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta with a STEM panel event where our members represented catalysts of change for future leaders. We partnered with the Girl Scouts for the first time, and it was a powerful reminder that the future is in good hands.
VL: The roiling sea of Acquisition dredges up a lot of feelings when you’re one of the people in charge of the ship. How did you prepare your team for the RV merger?
SH: It’s all about being an active listener, being available, accessible and responsive, and being transparent. Change is exciting, but it doesn’t often come without challenge and loss. I asked the team to lean into this motto: Stay positive. Stay productive. Stay present. And be prepared. I vowed to do the same.
VL: Now that Healthgrades is part of Red Ventures, is there anything you’re either excited to be part of or excited to improve?
SH: Healthgrades is a mission-driven brand. We are in the business of connection. We instill in consumers the confidence to connect with the right specialist and to take actionable steps in their health journey.
I am most excited about growth – growing our brand, growing our reach, growing our revenue, and growing our impact as consumers make crucial decisions about their care. It’s always exciting to be part of something much larger than oneself and being mindful that we are “doing well, by doing good.”
VL: You were the president of a WICT chapter, while being senior leadership on Healthgrades, a wife, and a daughter of aging parents. What helps you carve out an oasis for yourself?
SH: I’m the first to admit that I need to be better about self-care. For me, oasis means an uninterrupted block of time to just quiet my mind. It typically involves watching TV with my corgi curled up on my lap, a workout at Barre 3, or taking an hour at the end of each month to reflect on my accomplishments and misses and set goals for the month ahead.
It also means putting group family texts on mute from time to time. I also rely on my Live Alive accountability group as an oasis. We are committed to the collective growth of women. I can bring them any question or challenge or joy and – trust me – I will receive unfettered and unbiased feedback.
VL: Tell me about a time you chose yourself.
SH: I was laid off following a particularly difficult reorg. I did not take it well. I was so focused on financial security and finding the next thing. I was really struggling. It took me some time to realize that I needed to let go. So I left the job search behind and went to a small town in Ireland.
From there I spent time with family in Dublin before traveling to Thirsk, UK and to York where a friend lived. And then I went to Paris and spent my days wandering around the city and my evenings with family friends in the suburbs. It was the perfect combination of solo travel and connecting with friends and family far away from home. It was exactly what I needed.
VL: Has anyone pivotally shaped your career journey?
SH: I often remind the women I mentor that mentors are everywhere. Don’t forget to look for them in unusual places.
My middle school and high school drama teachers taught me about poise and voice projection. An HR colleague instilled in me how crucial it is to advocate for myself. The Healthgrades senior leadership team gives me the freedom to lead outside the office.
But there isn’t always a lesson or a skill: Impact can simply be about how you feel after an interaction. When I was first starting out in media, I was a producer for a talk show that covered every industry imaginable. I had the privilege of meeting heads of state, actors, authors, scientists, artists, you name it.
I will never forget an elevator ride I took with the late former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (and her two bodyguards). I wish I could recall exactly what she said but I remember how she made me feel about pursuing my career. My takeaway was a sense of strength with no apologies. Without question, it was a pivotal moment for me.
VL: Now for some fun questions! Favorite ice cream or popsicle from your childhood?
SH: Not from my childhood, but every summer my husband and I spend time with his family in Cape Cod where eating ice cream is a sport. My favorite is Sandy Neck, which is basically graham cracker flavor with chocolate-covered honeycomb candies.
VL: Million-dollar karaoke: You win only if you get every word right – without the teleprompter. What song do you pick?
SH: The theme song to the 80’s sitcom, The Facts of Life!
VL: The last book/show/podcast you finished?
Non-Fiction: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb.
Fiction: Seven Days in June by Tia Williams. My favorite book last year was the memoir, Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner. I’m still thinking about it.
Latest podcast: “The Sporkful” – It’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters! And, “I’m So Money” with CNET’s Farnoosh Torabi, of course!
Latest show: I’m in Content, so I watch a lot of TV. I’m a little too into historical fiction at the moment. Sanditon season 2 is back on PBS. Bring on Bridgerton! And I’m excited about Julia, inspired by Julia Child’s life, on HBO Max.
VL: Favorite quote (currently)?
SH: “When women affirm women it unlocks our power: It gives us permission to shine brighter.” – Elaine Weltheroth
If you loved this Empowered Feature, we have a feeling you’ll love this one, too, featuring RV’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Program Manager and Empowered ERG Co-Chair Tiarra Chambliss. Dig in!