Cathy Avgiris, daughter of a Greek carpenter and a seamstress from Brooklyn, keeps climbing the corporate ladder at Comcast Corp.
The 53-year-old executive, who helped launch the company's Internet and phone business, has been promoted to chief financial officer of its cable division, a business that serves 22 million cable-TV subscribers and has a projected $40 billion in annual sales this year. The division is a source of much of Comcast's profits.
Avgiris already is the top woman executive in the division, the nation's largest cable-TV provider. This will make her one of the top women in the male-dominated U.S. cable industry.
Other high-ranking women in the Comcast corporate sphere are Bonnie Hammer, who runs NBCUniversal's cable channels, and Amy Banse, who directs Comcast's venture funds. Banse, formerly of Philadelphia, is based in Silicon Valley, and Hammer is in New York.
Comcast says it interviewed internal and external candidates during the last year to replace Dave Scott, a former regional president and current CFO. He is retiring to join his wife and daughter in the family home in Florida. Avgiris will report to Neil Smit, a former Navy SEAL and division president. She begins her new job July 1.
"I'm honored," Avgiris said, noting that she believed her experience in both operations and finance helped her. "I have an interesting background, and I think I fit."
Among the jobs in her past was chief financial officer of the $25-million-a-year forklift manufacturer Drexel Industries in Horsham more than 20 years ago. After the job there, she joined Comcast, then a smallish regional cable-TV provider. That was 1992.
Avgiris preaches the gospel of financial discipline, and understands the nuts and bolts of some of Comcast's largest and newest products. When she started in Comcast's Internet business in the late 1990s, it had 150,000 subscribers. Now it has almost 20 million and is considered the nation's largest residential broadband service.
Brian Roberts, the company's chief executive officer, with whom Avgiris interviewed for the division post, has said that Internet subscribers will exceed TV subscribers during the next several years. In the most recent quarter, the Internet business added more than 400,000 new customers while TV lost 60,000.
"What I bring to the table," Avgiris said, "is how we continue to grow the businesses we have."