"After all, all my favorite women's magazines are run by men," she said.
As of April 21, Ms. Howatson becomes president of Playboy's publishing group and VP of the parent. She is charged with overseeing the company's domestic and overseas publishing-including 15 foreign editions of Playboy -and new media.
25 YEARS IN PUBLISHING
A 25-year publishing veteran who described herself as "in the vicinity of 46" years old, Ms. Howatson will be reunited with two former colleagues-Richard Kinsler, Playboy publisher, and Henry Marks, managing director of international publishing. They, along with VP-New Media Eileen Kent, will report to Ms. Howatson.
This isn't the Scottish-born Ms. Howatson's first exposure to men's magazines, and that's not counting her appearance 25 years ago as a Penthouse Pet in that magazine's U.K. edition. Her first actual publishing job was at Penthouse publisher General Media, selling space for Penthouse, Visa and Omni.
Her next post was publisher of Conde Nast Publications' Self, where she worked until being named group publisher at Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing.
Ms. Howatson's most recent position was at Cardinal Business Media, where she oversaw 20 magazines focusing on the high-tech, music and fitness areas.
Ms. Hefner said she had pursued Ms. Howatson before but that "it was never the right time" for one or the other parties.
Ms. Hefner said she restructured the job after Mike Perlis, now president of TVSM, left nearly three years ago. She broke off the publisher's post, which went to Mr. Kinsler. "I decided we could benefit from a full-time president," Ms. Hefner explained.
"We've felt for some time that as international and online grows, there's a great opportunity to put greater packages together combining our database and magazines," Ms. Hefner said. "And we've been looking for somebody with publishing and marketing experience to fill the role so we have an integrated strategy," regardless of the country or the medium.
The Playboy job appealed to Ms. Howatson because "it's a very big organization and embarking on a lot of exciting activities in the international and new-media arenas," she said.
Challenges in her new job include distribution problems among some convenience stores and an effort to draw more mainstream advertisers to Playboy.
"I'd really like to work with Richard on newsstand [distribution]. It's true several outlets are closed," Ms. Howatson said.
But she added that 80% of the magazine's circulation is via subscription, so the title is "protected" from limited distribution.
On the ad sales side, she said "we'll work to develop new ideas and packages to present" to advertisers to make the book more appealing.