From CSU to CEO: Diane Christman (’85) credits communication degree for career success

At first, Diane Christman wanted to be a foreign correspondent—“the next Barbara Walters,” as her friends called her. She enrolled as a speech communication major at CSU in the 1980s and sought classes in TV and radio broadcasting to help achieve her goal. 

One day, an assignment in a film editing course caused Diane to rethink her dream job. Journalism Professor Fred Shook had instructed Diane to edit the feature film A Clockwork Orange down to just a few minutes, and Diane—already not a big fan of the movie—had a hard time making the edits and deciding what even made sense to leave in. Looking back, Diane laughs, “I was a complete failure at the assignment.” 

But failure has never been the end of the story for Diane. “From failure,” she says, “you learn how to pivot.”  

Diane’s path to success 

Diane Christman
Diane Christman (’85)

Upon graduating from CSU in 1985, Diane realized how much she missed the incredible debates and deep discussions she’d experienced in what’s now the Department of Communication Studies, so she decided to continue her schooling. After earning a master’s degree in mass communication from the University of Denver, she took her passion for helping others and her storytelling skills into the nonprofit world, where she has since become an industry leader. 

An industry leader 

In January, Diane Christman was promoted to President & CEO of The Cable Center, a Denver-based nonprofit advancing innovation and driving what’s next in the connectivity and content industries.  

The Cable Center serves companies like Comcast, Xfinity, Spectrum, HBO, and ShowTime, and is also home to both the Cable Hall of Fame and the Intrapreneurship Academy.  

Diane is the co-architect behind the Intrapreneurship Academy, which was founded in 2017 to teach industry professionals the process of affecting big change and to strengthen industry leaders to act as entrepreneurs within their organizations. Most recently, their First Annual Intrapraneurship & Innovation Report reflects Diane’s and The Cable Center’s work to connect people and ideas to advance innovation. 

Communication skills are key 

As CEO today, Diane still finds herself relying on lessons she first learned as an undergraduate at CSU. She cites key skills like critical thinking, collaboration, public speaking, and writing as ones she first honed in CSU classrooms and upon which she was able to build her successful career.  

When Diane served as a judge for a recent pitch competition at Denver Startup Week, the necessity of these skills for every professional, especially those in innovation industries, became even more apparent to her. She reviewed nearly 150 entries from local entrepreneurs seeking funding for their innovative business ideas. “Business requires strong communication skills,” Diane says. “If someone has a cure for cancer and struggles to communicate it, they aren’t going to land the funding and support they need to bring that innovation to market.”  

“I owe my success and my career to what I learned at CSU” 

Ultimately, Diane Christman credits CSU for her remarkable career: “I owe my success and my career to what I learned at CSU,” she says. “I really look at… how I grew at CSU for helping me get where I am today.”  

What advice would she give to current communication studies students at CSU? Diane doesn’t skip a beat: “Always raise your hand and say yes. Take the shot! I’ve learned so much adopting that spirit.”