Product Strategy: Embrace Diversity

June 16, 2015 9:02 am

By Sheryl Estrada

Saksena1By embracing diversity you also embrace a changing consumer base.

That’s a key part of how Asheesh Saksena,  Cox Communications’ Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, sees his job.

Saksena recognizes the company must be open to adapting its products to attract a diverse clientele.

“As a country, we’re increasingly getting more diverse,” he explained. “And with that comes both opportunity and the responsibility. At Cox we are embracing the changing environment within. Our products are now being intentionally assessed for how are they adapting to the needs of a diverse customer base.”

Saksena also noted that, this year, the company is creating strategic partnerships with other like-minded companies, making Cox “more ready and relevant for a diverse workforce.”

A diverse customer base includes gender and race, as well as age groups. For example, Cox, No. 17 on DiversityInc’s Top 50 list, is also targeting the Millennial population to offer them solutions. And, in regards to the diversity of its employees, the company is also focusing on meeting the needs of that coveted population.

“At the end of the day, what I’m trying to do is amplify the diverse voices that are within our company and bring those into a decision-making process,” Saksena added.

He and his team continue to think deeply about diversification and that Cox is a provider of different layers of services, including broadband services.

“We’re so excited about what we’re doing in our various markets because it is creating capabilities around broadband that offer new growth opportunities,” he said. “It enables new ways for people and companies to live their lives and also fosters a new opportunity of growth for us.”

For example, Saksena said the company is dedicated to using broadband to provide healthcare solutions at home.

“Telemedicine and telehealth are becoming real,” he said. “So home health is an area of diversification that we are working on very actively.”

Prior to Cox, Saksena served as Deputy Chief Strategy Officer and Senior Vice President at Time Warner Cable (No. 41). He was also a partner at Accenture (No. 15), where he was responsible for strategy practice serving cable and wireless service providers.

When considering accepting his current position at Cox, Saksena, who has more than 20 years of experience working in strategy and operations in corporate America, assessed the team he would be working with was the important factor.

“The most important reason I joined Cox was for its people, and it’s amazing,” he said. During his interview process, he had the opportunity to meet and spend time with his team, including Pat Esser, President of Cox Communications, who he reports to.

He knew of Esser’s openness to different perspectives and knew his work would be valued and recognized, which contributed to his decision to join the company. “I knew the perspective I brought to [Esser’s] table may be right, or wrong, and he and my peers would help me see that over time,” he noted.

In his position at Cox, Saksena has had ample opportunity to do what he enjoys the most — making an impact.

“I’m at a place in a time where there are tremendous opportunities for me, my team, my company, to create a lasting impact, and that’s very exciting.”

Current Position
Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for Cox Communications (No. 17 on The 2015 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity)Previous Positions
Deputy Chief Strategy Officer and Senior Vice President at Time Warner Cable; partner at AccentureEducation
Mechanical Engineering degree from BITS, Pilani; M.B.A., University of Delhi’s Faculty of Management Studies

Millennials Sparking Change

Saksena is the Executive Sponsor of the Young Professionals Employee Resource Group (ERG) and leads Cox’s Millennial Council, Millennials Influencing Decision Making (MIND).

“I am truly beginning to understand what Cox will look like both within and around us in the future,” Saksena said. “What’s interesting is that you can pause and just see how the flow of social composition is expanding in front of you. And I have a point of view of what our workforce will look like in terms of its composition. I would not have learned this if I hadn’t stayed so tightly connected to all millennial diversity programs.”

Saksena plans to be prepared when the company of tomorrow “becomes more real.” He and his team are proactive in utilizing input from ERG and Millennial Council members. He is learning how Cox will need to adjust its policies and framework in order to remain relevant when “the environment around us begins to change.”