ABM Names Pettit to Succeed Hughes

Organization Taps B-to-B Outsider to Lead in Age of Digitization

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- American Business Media has named Clark Pettit as its new president-CEO, a leader from outside the B-to-B media sector but one who has firsthand experience in the ways that digital advances can challenge an industry.

Mr. Pettit previously worked in the music industry, which has been hit hard by digitization. His experience includes stints as VP-global digital operations and assets management at EMI Music's New York office; in Ascent Media Group's digital-media unit as general manager-North America for Accenture Digital Media Services; and as an independent media consultant focused on digital technology. At ABM, he succeeds Gordon T. Hughes II.

"I think a key factor in the decision to offer Clark the position revolved around his involvement in the music industry when that industry was turned upside down by forces such as iTunes," said Hanley Wood CEO Frank Anton, a member of the search committee. "He lived through and helped guide a company through a transformative process similar to what legacy b-to-b companies are struggling with. He can be a guiding light for the industry."

"The ABM Board made a conscious decision to select a candidate from outside the b-to-b media industry," Charles G. McCurdy, ABM chairman and president-CEO of Canon Communications, said in a statement. "Chosen from a wide and diverse pool of over 100 candidates, Clark has a strong and compelling mix of management and transformational experience in the technology and digital solutions and services markets."

In a statement, Mr. Pettit said: "The B-to-B media industry is currently grappling with fundamental changes in the ways that businesses get and use information. Many of these changes parallel the ways that the consumer-focused media industry has been transforming, particularly through digital media and internet connected technologies. I believe that my experience in managing transformational change, embracing these new technologies and behaviors, and finding new business and revenue models will be directly relevant to ABM, its members, and the B-to-B media industry."

Mr. Pettit joins the association at a difficult time. ABM had revenue of about $2.3 million for the fiscal year ended June 30. The organization had budgeted for $3.4 million, but a 30% drop in dues as a result of member departures and a 34% decline in event revenue contributed to the shortfall.

Mr. Hughes, who announced in January that he planned to join a company that will produce Broadway plays, spent much of his last year at ABM cutting personnel and costs. In the current fiscal year, ABM anticipates revenue of $2.8 million and a loss of $220,000.

Mr. Hughes, like Mr. Pettit, came from outside B-to-B media. When he joined the organization (then known as American Business Press) in 1994, the bulk of his experience had been in TV. He presided over the association during an era of transformation for the B-to-B media sector. More changes likely await ABM -- which took its current name in 2000 -- as well as the industry at large on Mr. Pettit's watch.

Sean Callahan is executive editor of BtoB magazine.

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