The highlight of American Business Media's second annual tribute to Women in Business-to-Business, held last month in New York, was a roundtable discussion featuring three of the four winners of the 2009 Gertrude Crain Award and led by CBS News correspondent Erin Moriarty.
The audience of about 100 people at the Prince George Ballroom discovered that none of the three panelists originally planned to pursue their current careers.
M2MEDIA360 President-CEO Marion Minor said she studied experimental psychology before joining the information services industry. While working for A.C. Nielsen Co., she became managing partner of a joint venture with Adams Business Media. In 2002, she became the owner of a business media and information company when she acquired a portion of Adams' assets.
Victoria Chu Pao, president of McGraw-Hill Cos.' Platts energy information unit, previously worked as a buyer for Macy's Department Stores. After losing that job as the result of an acquisition, she joined McGraw-Hill Co.'s management training program in 1997; she was named to the top post at Platts in 2005.
Carla Hendra, CEO of Ogilvy North America since 2005 and chairman of Ogilvy New York since 2007, said she didn't have her eye on an advertising career when she got her first job “answering the phones” at a small agency. Although her boss “was very demanding and not much fun, I learned a lot,” she said. Hendra joined Ogilvy in 1996 and was appointed president of OgilvyOne in 1998.
This year's fourth honoree, Judy Hu, global executive director of advertising and brand at General Electric Co., was unable to attend the ABM event.
The executives addressed work-life balance during the roundtable discussion, and the conversation took a turn when Pao told of her decision to step down from her job and move to Nashville, Tenn., where her husband “got an incredible job offer.” Pao said she will focus on raising her two children and does not plan to work outside the home.
“I'm not sure I could do that,” Moriarty said.
Hendra said her company is respectful of women's family responsibilities, but added that women “who want to compete on an equal playing field with men” need to take equal responsibility for getting the job done at work.
“My mother-in-law was convinced my working would be harmful to my two daughters,” Minor said, “but I had to be resolved that this was the best thing for our family.”
Gordon T. Hughes II, president-CEO of ABM, said the roundtable was encouraging for “the next generation” of female leaders in business media. Three daughters of top executives at ABM member companies attended the event.
The annual ABM awards honoring women executives are named for Gertrude Crain, who was chairman of Crain Communications Inc., publisher of Media Business
, from 1974 until shortly before her death at 85 in 1996. M