Cox Kansas’ new chief has been out meeting employees

Though she's been in Wichita since Feb. 22, this is Janet Barnard's first full week in her office at 901 S. George Washington Blvd.

Barnard, the new senior vice president and general manager of Cox Kansas/Arkansas, has spent much of the past few weeks on a 26-stop tour of the company's operations that encompass nearly all of Kansas and northwest Arkansas.

The tour, Barnard said, goes to one of her primary passions as a Cox executive: building and developing teams.

"I love to see people challenged and grow from that challenge," Barnard, 51, said Thursday.

She said it was important for her to "shake every employee's hand" and for them to get to know her as a person.

She said she wants the 1,500 employees under her charge to see me "as more than a GM. I'm a wife, mother and sister."

Developing and growing employees' skills, which she considers one of her main duties as GM, starts by helping them get to know her as a person, she said.

Barnard, who came to Cox Kansas/Arkansas from the same role in Fairfax County, Va., said she's bullish on the company's ability to grow in a region that serves nearly 1 million cable, telephone and Internet customers.

On the residential side, Barnard said she sees a chance for Cox to increase its customer loyalty.

Cox Business is the company's "real growth engine," she said.

Cox Business' focus has been on small- and midsize companies. She said it will expand that focus to include large companies.

"We have just really scratched the surface," Barnard said.

She said Cox Media will look to expand its business through online banner ads and text messaging and the company will also put more emphasis in growing its government and education business, particularly with universities in the region.

Barnard said she will be as active and visible on community boards as was her predecessor, Kimberly Edmunds, who was promoted to senior vice president for customer operations at Cox headquarters in Atlanta.

Barnard said in order to get to her position, Cox expects its executives to be involved in community activities and charitable boards.

"I believe in it personally... (that) you can change the world one person at a time," Barnard said.

She said another big part of her role will be to think about and develop the company's long-term strategy here.

"Really, I'm a big believer in getting out ahead of whatever challenge we may be facing (in the future)," she said.

Barnard, who was born in Hanover, Kan., but raised in Nebraska, came to Cox in 1988. She started as an accounting manager in Macon, Ga.

Since then she's had stops in Omaha, Texas and Virginia.