Not that Elizabeth DeMaso was a wild card. The 33-year-old Madison Avenue veteran had helped then-independent Deutsch reel in $800 million in business, including Mitsubishi Motors of America, Bank One, Pfizer and Domino's Pizza; she'd started her own recruiting agency specializing in advertising; and she had coached many agency executives on career advancement.
Two months later, she's cultivating relationships with senior agen- cy managers, identifying prospective clients, and getting the word out that Hill Holliday is more than just an outpost of a Boston shop. While transitioning out of her recruiting firm and starting with Hill Holliday in November, she was in the final stages of planning her wedding to Peter Drakoulias, president of Deutsch's dRush, part of Interpublic Group of Cos. The honeymoon to Thailand was her first two-week vacation since graduating from Syracuse University in 1990.
Ms. DeMaso now will pour her energy into building the Interpublic shop one client at a time-with soft drink, spirits and pharmaceutical clients high on her list.
Gay Haines, worldwide chief executive of Kendall Tarrant, a global recruiting firm specializing in marketing communications, has worked with Ms. DeMaso and predicted she could help pull the strings together for Hill Holliday.
"She has all the right nuances for a new-business person ... courage, tenacity and patience," Ms. Haines said. "It's about building long-term relationships. ... People respect your desire to get to know them and their company before expecting to start doing business with them."
Ms. DeMaso had longed to work in advertising since she was a high school senior on Staten Island. New business, she realized, was the best way to marry two primary interests-writing and psychology.
"It's the business of business and really figuring out how to influence and grow an agency-that's why I fell in love with it," she said. "I love building business and helping shape what it becomes."
For almost two years, Ms. DeMaso was co-chairman of DeMaso-Adelson, a New York recruiting firm that her partner still runs. She said she loved the entrepreneurial aspect but missed agency teamwork. When David Kessler, Hill Holliday's new managing director, asked her to help him fill the job, she tried to sell it to candidates-rather easy considering the ad world was shaking out jobs daily. Then she and Mr. Kessler, her boss at Griffin Bacal in the 1990s, realized she should take it.
"I have a really good ability to recognize good opportunities," she said. "Had I been my own client, I'd have encouraged me to go for it."
Name: Elizabeth DeMaso
Now: Senior VP-dir. new business, Hill Holliday/New York
Challenge: To build the New York profile of an agency best known for its Boston roots.