Kathy Crawford

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At the tender age of 17, Kathy Crawford entered the work force determined to create her identity. "I didn't want to be Peggy Bell's daughter," she says now, when asked how and why she got into media buying. A top-level editor at McCall's, Ms. Crawford's mother was well-known in New York's tightly knit media circles. Ms. Bell quit her job in a disagreement with the magazine's publisher, and told her daughter, then attending Skidmore College, that tuition would be tough to manage. A short time later, Ms. Crawford returned home to Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., and started her career as a sales assistant for a TV rep firm-a vocation quite unlike her mother's.

It's been a long career journey for Ms. Crawford, who was recently appointed president of the local broadcast group at WPP Group's MindShare North America. Throughout the `70s and `80s, she gained experience as a media buyer, too. Her reputation as a shrewd negotiator with a great memory grew. She also took to heart a piece of advice offered by Dennis Holt, founder of Western International Media, now owned by Interpublic Group of Cos.: Make every negotiation personal. "Kathy knows how to go to the edge," says Mr. Holt, who hired Ms. Crawford on two separate occasions. "She rarely if ever goes over the edge. She is incredible."

moving around

As her career developed, Ms. Crawford also changed locales, living in Mexico, Phoenix and most recently Los Angeles, and also raised three children, as well several horses and dogs. For the last five years through June, she was director of local broadcast at Initiative, Los Angeles. "I like organization and process," she says, explaining why the business continues to captivate her. "You've got to have attention deficit disorder to do it," she adds, wryly. "I do."

Electronic commerce is the industry issue for which she wants to be remembered. In the late 1990s, she made a demand on TV stations: "If they didn't send their invoices to me electronically, I said I would charge them $100 to process each invoice." One year later, roughly 800 stations had complied. "My mission is to improve the industry's processes," she says.

"I want my buyers to spend more time with salespeople. I don't want them to be swamped in paperwork." To many in the industry, including a daughter and a niece, Ms. Crawford is career role model. "She's driven, she's smart and she's a people person," says her niece, Jennifer Crawford, now a sales manager at systems provider Ariba in Atlanta.

This June Ms. Crawford moved back East to take a new job as president of MindShare North America's local broadcast group. Her daily commute into Manhattan begins from the very same Croton-on-Harmon train station that was her launch pad into the city many years ago. Some aspects of West Coast life are missed, she says, but of living in New York again she says, "I love being in the heart of the business."

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