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Sling TV SVP, Christine Weber, on why it is very important that your team knows it’s okay to make a mistake

Managing a 250-person team is definitely not always easy, especially in an industry of constant growth and change. As a leader, I think it is very important the team knows it’s okay to make a mistake, as long as you’re learning from it. I try my best to make everything a learning experience for someone […]


Managing a 250-person team is definitely not always easy, especially in an industry of constant growth and change. As a leader, I think it is very important the team knows it’s okay to make a mistake, as long as you’re learning from it. I try my best to make everything a learning experience for someone on my team. At the end of the day, as long as we continue to learn and grow with the ever changing OTT world, we’re doing a pretty good job.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Christine Weber, the Senior Vice President of OTT Engineering for Sling TV, where she leads 250-person team within the organization. Christine leads the teams designing, delivering and operating the Sling TV service, enabling customers to stream, record, pause and share live TV over the internet. Christine’s team is collectively changing entertainment as we know it.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I don’t think there is one exact story or moment in time that explains my start in tech. Science and math have always come very natural to me. I was lucky enough to be introduced to technology at a very young age, and I’ve been hooked since I was 10 years old. Obviously, there were not very women in the STEM field back then, which was somewhat intimidating, but ultimately it pushed my fascination with technology even further. Once I knew that this was really something I wanted to do, I was determined to make that happen. After my freshman year of college, I began my first paid job in the field as an intern on a database design in the corporate offices of The Denver Post. Once that happened, it became less of, “Do I want to do this?” and more of, “How do I do this?”

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading in your company?

I was given an opportunity to create an anti-hacking system for DISH, the parent company of Sling TV, which I ended up working on for months. When we deployed the system, there was a possibility that customers would be negatively impacted if things went wrong. That night, we began to see hackers complaining online, and it really hit me that the system we created had worked, and was making a difference for the company.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I didn’t find it exactly funny at the time, but early in my career at DISH, while I was learning a different operating system that was core to our service, I managed to delete a live production database from disk with an ill-placed semi-colon. While there was no impact to the service because it ran fully in memory, I had to get help preserving the in-memory copy and restoring the disk version. Many of my colleagues had to interrupt their day to help me fix my mistake. All team members involved rallied around fixing the issue and it was a gratifying display of teamwork. The lessons learned and reinforced from this were many: test, test and retest in a non-production environment first, don’t be afraid to ask for help, learn from mistakes and help prevent them for yourself and others in the future. Most of all, the problem I created showed me the true nature of all those around me, even though I was very new to the organization — everyone was ready to help solve the problem and I knew I was with a great team and company.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are creating an entirely new entertainment experience. When we started Sling TV, we were often compared to Netflix and other Video On Demand streaming services, but what we are doing is actually quite different, and much more complicated. When we launched Sling TV, it was the first of its kind, and the internet wasn’t quite ready for everything streaming live TV required. As time has gone on, people have really started to understand what the “cord cutting” movement is all about and they are really starting to get behind it. Our technology at Sling TV is changing entertainment as we know it, and consumers are seeing that.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We have learned a lot about our customers in the last four years. The lessons we’ve learned have helped us create some exciting new initiatives to keep both former customers and people who have never tried Sling TV using our app. While we spent the last few years making the platform scalable and robust, we are now focused in 2019 on customer engagement by making the content that is individually relevant to them easy to find, watch and record. I am really excited to see all the changes we have created start rolling out to our customers.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

As a leader and mentor, I think the most important thing you can do is to make sure everyone on your team feels like they have a voice and they matter. I make it a point that regardless of your title or status at Sling TV, a good idea is a good idea. It really is amazing how much we can all learn from each other. Collaboration and learning from others are a couple of my favorite things in my career. I learn something new every day and that is part of what keeps me driving new innovation and helping others to do the same. It is also important to stand behind your commitments — deliver, and if the unexpected arises delaying a deliverable, be up front and let those who depend on your work know your updates.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Managing a 250-person team is definitely not always easy, especially in an industry of constant growth and change. As a leader, I think it is very important the team knows it’s okay to make a mistake, as long as you’re learning from it. I try my best to make everything a learning experience for someone on my team. At the end of the day, as long as we continue to learn and grow with the ever changing OTT world, we’re doing a pretty good job.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I was fortunate enough to have two mentors. I had an incredible high school teacher who pushed me to pursue my passion at a young age. In college, I began to experience a little bit of bias against women in engineering, which really got to me. I had an amazing mentor at the time who sat me down and said, “Listen, you’re going to be trailblazing, and you’re a natural for this. Go for it. Don’t let somebody with outdated views stand in your way.” I have never forgotten that advice, and hope to inspire other young women to do the same.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I try to use my technical skills in the volunteer work I do — whether that is designing and installing networks for non-profit agencies or teaching those in non-profits or individuals in times of hardship where technology can help them, removing the uncertainty and showing them how technology can be a fantastic tool without being expensive or scary.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Don’t be afraid to be confident: A lot of women are afraid as coming across arrogant or rude, especially in this field. It’s okay to know your strengths.
  2. Make your own opportunities: Any successful person will tell you that they did not get where they are by waiting around for something to happen for them. Put yourself out there.
  3. Learn from your mistakes: We all make mistakes. That’s okay, as long as you learn from them.
  4. Look to others for guidance: One great thing about being a part of such a large team is that there is never an absence of ideas. Often we see ourselves getting stuck on something because we are only looking at it from our own lens.
  5. Know your weaknesses: As important as knowing your strengths is, knowing your weaknesses can be just as crucial. No one is the best at everything and that’s why we have teams!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

While I am thrilled about the strides we have made in recent years, I would love to see even more women and girls pursuing opportunities in STEM. There are so many great minds out there. Hopefully someday soon being a woman in STEM will be seen as the norm. Anything we, as current leaders, can do to further this will help bring a broader point of view to solving problems, creating new solutions and a sustainable culture where you are only measured by your skills, drive and what you bring as a person to your team.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One of my favorite phrases is “We’re making it up as we go along.” This is always a great reminder to myself, as well as my team, to challenge ourselves and realize our great ideas. As engineers, we often think very logically, and less creatively. I often have to remind myself that our success depends on creating new ideas.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Meg Whitman — I have had the pleasure to attend a few of her conferences on women in tech and her values and points of view are something I have tried to model in my own leadership style.

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