Cobalt’s Suzana Brady Aligns Industry To Common Objective

Suzana Brady, SVP for worldwide sales and marketing at Cobalt Digital, and one of this year’s TVNewsCheck Women in Technology Futurist Award winners, is herding the broadcast tech industry together through her pivotal role as chair of the Reliable Internet Stream Transport (RIST) Forum.

Suzana Brady left the bureaucratic world of a Brazilian company behind for a future in technology and media in Silicon Valley.

It was, she found, the right place at the right time, allowing her to work for both large and small technology companies that challenged her in different ways. Now, Brady is the SVP for worldwide sales and marketing at Cobalt Digital, and she chairs the Reliable Internet Stream Transport (RIST) Forum. In that role, she has expanded the forum to more than 200 members, and she has also educated the media industry about the HDR aspects of the ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard.

Brady is one of two Women in Technology Futurists, along with Chrystelle Le Gall, lead cloud solutions architect at Ateme (read about her here), who TVNewsCheck will recognize during a ceremony on April 18 at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.

Growing up in Brazil, Brady enjoyed her STEM classes. “They were easy for me,” she says, adding she knew from an early age she would likely follow an engineering path of some sort.

And she did, earning a degree in chemical engineering. Her first job out of college was for Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company.

“My boss was one of the few women there,” she says.


The organization was rigidly bureaucratic. “For me to get where she was, I’d need to put in the 30 years, no matter how talented or smart or how much I knew,” she says.

That was not the path for her. She wound up in Silicon Valley in the 1990s and fell in love with the vibe, atmosphere and knowledge base. She decided not to follow chemical engineering but to pursue technology and telecom. Her first job there was high-tech.

“I was learning all over again,” she recalls. “I got to work with incredibly talented people in a fast-paced environment.”

She says there was no better way for her to grow and learn. “It was an accelerated path for technology learning,” Brady says.

Brady during a visit to CNN in Atlanta.

She worked for both small and very large technology companies. At the small companies, she “got to do it all” while at the larger companies, she got to learn from others.

“Silicon Valley was the right place at the right time. I was so lucky to end up there,” she says.

She joined Cobalt Digital in 2016 when Cobalt purchased ImmediaTV Corp., the company where she was working as VP of worldwide sales and business development.

One of the technology problems at the time was that many of the existing protocols were “lacking something,” and interoperability was a key issue, she says. “There are a lot of solutions that are not interoperable.”

The RIST Forum began a few years ago “with a little group on a phone call” focused on promoting interoperability between vendors, she says, and it has grown quickly.

She and her mentor, Ciro Noronha, now Cobalt CTO, along with others “got together and created the initiative,” she says. The result was a combination of more than 100 years of experience working together on the RIST Forum.

The group has grown to 230 members around the world, including AWS and Grass Valley. The members are competitors, she acknowledges, but they don’t behave as competitors in RIST meetings.

“There’s no competitive trace there, it’s just a group of colleagues trying to do their best,” says Brady, who chairs the forum. “They believe in what we’re doing and are sure this is what we need to do.”

Brady says her role is to make sure the group gets together, as well as to create the agenda and come up with creative ideas on how to market the RIST initiatives.

Noronha, a fellow Brazilian who is president of the forum, says Brady communicates with the industry and provides the visionary leadership.

“She’s pushing the message into the industry and getting these people to cooperate — even companies that compete with each other and with Cobalt,” he says. “She gets them to come to the table and work together to promote the industry as a whole.”

And it’s not easy, this task she does in her “non-existent” spare time, he says. “It’s like herding cats and she’s good at that,” then adds, “grumpy and opinionated cats.”

She’s able to work with everybody and is good at organizing the group to “march to a common objective,” he says.

To date, RIST has produced three major specifications and has a long roadmap of features coming up, she says.

“It’s crazy in less than two years, how many deployments and how many companies have joined us,” she says.

Brady says one of the ways she’s learned is by observing people. “I observe a lot. I like to learn from different people.”

Some things she’s learned are about researching before speaking, getting along with people and how to praise others. She also learned a lot about how not to do things from watching people.

“You can learn great things from some people and terrible things from some people, and it all builds into making you the person you want to be in the workplace,” she says.

Cobalt COO Chris Shaw says Brady has “tremendous” people and management skills. “She knows the market, does the research, knows our competitors, and knows our product very well. Suzana has a good technical knowledge of our product.”

Cobalt COO Chris Shaw (left), Brady and Ryan Wallenberg, Cobalt’s VP of engineering, at NAB New York.

She oversees the all-male sales team and “gets the best out of them.” The result, he says, is that “she’s been able to increase our revenue on an annual basis.”

Part of her success comes down to the fact that she is committed to what she does, Brady says. “I’m extremely committed,” adding that being self-driven, organized and prepared are helpful in her role.

She also believes that for every problem there is a solution, and she likes to discuss the possibilities with a group.

“We brainstorm as a group and discuss what’s on the table,” she says. “I usually have an opinion, but I love to hear other peoples’.”

But before she ever shows up to the meeting, she says, “I like to do my homework and to understand where things are coming from.”

And speaking of homework, one of the most important things people can do for their futures is to get a good education, she says.

“I want everybody to take education seriously, whether it’s elementary school, middle school or high school,” she says. “I know brilliant people who don’t take it seriously until college, and they regret not taking it seriously before then.”

Would-be software engineering jobseekers should also “try to make yourself unique” because they are often competing against 50 or more resumes for any opening. “The way they describe themselves in the first sentence” can make them stand out, she says.

As serious as she is about education, that’s not to say there isn’t room for play, she adds. Take education seriously, then “play, play, play once you get the work done,” she says, noting she plays hard outside of work.

She loves outdoor activities and sports. Along with her family and two puppies, she is “always on the go.” Some of that involves taking an RV west from North Carolina toward Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

“I lived in California for 12 years,” she says. “We find ourselves being West Coast people, drawn to the open spaces, the wide roads, the incredible scenery.”

Read more about this year’s Women in Technology Awards here.

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