Turner’s Working Mom of the Year: “You can be a company asset while also being a great parent”

As a working mom with three young children under the age of 10, Colleen Sullivan is familiar with the difficult balancing act between work life and home life. Throw her community service life into the mix, and the TV director has a pretty full plate.

“I describe my life as a game of Tetris,” said Sullivan. “I'm trying to figure out how to move that one piece so that everything fits in exactly.”

Colleen Sullivan and her familyYet, it all adds up to the reason Sullivan was selected as Turner’s Working Mother of the Year for “Working Mother” magazine. Turner is among the magazine’s “2018 100 Best Companies,” marking the company’s 16th consecutive year on the list.

Sullivan started her career at Turner in 2014 as an Associate Director for Turner Sports. Her travel schedule had her gone three to six days a week – something that soon started to wear on her. Earlier this year, she made the switch to NBA TV – something that still has crazy hours, she says, but is much more manageable for her family life.

“Before I took the job, they warned me that I would be working nights. I told them I don’t mind working every night, as long as I get to come back to my own house,” she said. “I can work ‘til two or three in the morning, come home and get three or four hours of sleep, drop the kids off at school, and then come back and take a nap!”

Being a mother in sports television production is tough enough, but that’s not the only challenge Sullivan faces on a daily basis. In 2014, her son, Jackson, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. She says she first started noticing the signs when he was two years old.Colleen Sullivan and her family

“He was talking, but he wasn't talking that much – he would say words, but he wasn't really putting sentences together,” said Sullivan

It took another year for him to be officially diagnosed. He’s come a long way since then but still has his struggles. Sullivan acknowledges her own struggles as a parent – how to know if his behavior is related to him being on the spectrum or just related to him being a seven-year-old boy. 

“Jackson has made me a better person. I think I’ve become much more patient and open-minded,” she said. “Knowing someone on the spectrum makes you think twice when you see someone acting out. You can’t tell just by looking at someone if they have sensory issues.”

Her son’s diagnosis inspired Sullivan to team up with Autism Speaks. Today, she serves on the Executive Leadership Committee of the organization’s Georgia Board and has even used her professional experience to produce autism awareness videos and organize walks for the group.Colleen Sullivan and her family She is also one of the leaders of Turner’s DisAbility Business Resource Group, where she’s currently working on a neurodiversity and broader disability hiring initiative at the company. Because of her commitment to her community and community service, Sullivan was recognized for her volunteer efforts earlier this year with WarnerMedia’s 2018 Richard D. Parsons "Community Impact Award", in addition to the “Excellence in Service” award.

Sullivan credits her supportive husband for his help and Turner for its family-friendly benefits and flexible work schedule – allowing her to be both a full-time employee and a full-time mom. She says she hopes she can be an example to other young women in her field who want to raise a family and have a successful career at the same time.

“You can be an asset to a company while also being a great parent,” said Sullivan. “We need more female execs, more females in tech and in sports – there’s a lot that we're missing out on by not having women in these positions. In order to make that happen, we all need to be more accommodating of a family work-life balance."

For the 16th consecutive year, “Working Mother” magazine named Turner to its “100 Best Companies” list. Turner offers several programs to assist families, including flexible work arrangements, parental leave, backup childcare, backup eldercare, pet care, and financial assistance for adoption, IVF and surrogacy. You can browse all of Turner’s benefits at warnermediabenefits.com.