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Alumna Finds Success at

Debora J. Wilson

By Carrie Secondo
Under the direction of alumna Debora J. Wilson, B.S., B.A. '79, the Weather Channel's popular website,, was launched in 1995 and quickly established a leadership position on the Internet. The site is widely recognized as the premier weather destination and consistently ranks among the top 25 most widely utilized websites in the world.

Wilson, who serves as the president and chief executive officer of, has overall responsibility for the strategy, development, and growth of the Weather Channel's products in both online and wireless media. When Wilson graduated in 1979 with degrees in finance and business administration, she never imagined she would become the president of one of the worlds leading Internet sites. "I don't even recall that PCs existed to any great extent," she says.

Wilson joined the Weather Channel in 1994, and has since led the development of other new businesses, including the Weather Channel's Radio Network, the syndication of weather pages to newspapers, and the development of next-generation digital television, wireless, and interactive TV services. Between 1996 and 1998, Wilson was responsible for the distribution of the Weather Channel's cable network to cable and satellite operators throughout the country.

Prior to joining the Atlanta-based company, Wilson was a 15-year veteran of the telecommunications industry. With Bell Atlantic Network Services, she developed and marketed information-based services for the consumer market, including interactive and cable television services. At the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company, an operating subsidiary of Bell Atlantic, Wilson held positions of increasing responsibility in network operations.

A year after Wilson joined the Weather Channel, the Internet presented itself as an opportunity for new growth; however, Wilson says the industry as a whole was uncertain about the prospects of venturing into the wild and uncharted territory of cyberspace. "When launched, there was still grand debate over whether the Internet was even worth our while and whether it would make any money," Wilson says.

Five years later, there is no room for debate, as has become one of the most popular sites on the web. The success of the site, Wilson says, is largly due to a hardworking, bright, and capable staff, which has grown from three part-time employees to a full-time staff of 140, which is expected to reach 180 by year end.

When the website was launched, the Weather Channel was 15 years old and was widely known as a leading source for weather information on cable television. Although Wilson says part of the site's popularity was earned because of its association with the Weather Channel's recognized brand name, Wilson adds the broad appeal of the content itself--weather--automatically boosts its popularity. "Weather always ranks in the top five categories of information consumers seek out on the web," she says.

Partnerships with AOL, Netscape, Iwon, ABC News, Looksmart, and others are all pivotal relationships to, and they have allowed the company to extended its products to a larger user base, Wilson says.

Looking toward the future, Wilson says the company will continue to provide a great product and broaden its reach nationally and internationally, while building revenues as a strong and viable business. The company will also begin to focus on the latest wave of technology--wireless communications.

"Just as the Internet did five years ago, wireless technology is bursting now," Wilson says. "Now that web content can be accessed over pagers and wireless phones, we want to make sure users are accessing weather information from us."


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