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BIRTH DATE: July 24, 1942 P&G CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Joined P&G in 1968 as statistics/computer applications specialist, Industrial Engineering Division; manager, P&G's Miami Valley Labs Computer Center, R&D, 1970; brand manager, Spic & Span, Bar Soap & Household Cleaning Products Division, 1978; ad manager, Beauty-care Division, 1981; ad manager, Packaged Soap & Detergent Division, 1983; manager, Market Research Department, 1984; manager-information services, 1987; VP-information services, 1988; senior VP-information services and advertising, 1990. EDUCATION: University of Cincinnati, B.S., math, 1964; Case Western Reserve University, M.S., math, 1966, Ph.D., computer science, 1967. PERSONAL: Married with three grown children-one daughter and two sons. P&G VET HERBOLD SAVORS CHALLENGE MICROSOFT OFFERS

By Published on .

"Holy cow, I better look at this one," Bob Herbold said to himself after getting the call from a headhunter that in short order would dramatically change his career and his lifestyle.

Six weeks later, colleagues at Procter & Gamble Co. were stunned to learn the company's senior VP-information systems and advertising-and a 26-year P&G veteran-would leave to join Microsoft Corp. as exec VP-chief operating officer, effective today.

But the voluntary departure of such a high-level executive was greeted with little resentment within the P&G fold because Microsoft and Bob Herbold seem like such a great fit.

Mr. Herbold, too, seems a bit dazed by the whole turn of events.

"I never looked for a job outside of P&G in my life," he told Advertising Age. "The only reason I listened to this Microsoft situationis because a good friend who I've known for a long time said a person was going to call me and I should listen. It was a unique situation and the only other job I've ever looked at. This opportunity [at Microsoft] is like a golden opportunity for someone who has a good strong background in the computer area while having a deep appreciation of the importance of the consumer and the ability to market to consumers. This one is special."

That someone with a strong background in computers also happens to be a leader who draws out others, relishes idea-filled discussions and knows more than he lets on.

"It takes some doing to find out what he does know and then it's scary when you find out," commented one agency executive who worked closely with Mr. Herbold on new media, an area in which the P&G executive took a lead role this summer in forming a new-media industry task force (see related story on Page 1).

The lanky Mr. Herbold has always been enthralled with computers. His advanced degrees are in math and computer science; as a graduate student, he was involved in a forerunner of the Internet.

He got a good dose of marketing at P&G, which he found "incredibly fun." Over the years he successfully combined his technology background with marketing disciplines to become a rare hybrid in the marketplace. Now he will take that ability to Redmond, Wash., to become part of Chairman-CEO Bill Gates' inner circle.

"The exciting thing about Microsoft [is] there are so many opportunities right now and the need for a strong consumer perspective is very clear," said Mr. Herbold, who left Cincinnati yesterday for the computer world's gigantic Comdex/Fall '94 show in Las Vegas. He will be in his new office by midweek.

The Cincinnati native has no qualms about moving or about what is certain to be a significant corporate culture change. He expects things to move more quickly at Microsoft, smaller by P&G standards, but he'll miss the package-goods giant's support structure. "As with most things in life, there's good news and bad news."

By January, Mr. Herbold expects to be settled in the Seattle area with wife, Patricia, an attorney specializing in commercial real estate. Their three children are grown.

When they can find spare time, the Herbolds love hiking and the outdoors. They've set their sights on the Cascade Mountains.

Still, Mr. Herbold will miss P&G. He had a hand in the company's value pricing strategy, its continuous replenishment initiatives with retailers and the recent reduction of management layers.

"I hate to leave P&G," he said. "But I'm totally enthused about having an impact on Microsoft."

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