NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Growing up in Chicago's North Shore suburbs, Beth Waxman-Arteta's adolescent years were a lot like being in a John Hughes movie. When she completed high school, Ms. Waxman-Arteta did just what Molly Ringwald wanted to: fled far from home.
But after four years of college (and ample skiing) in Colorado, she still wasn't sure about her career calling. That's when family friend Jordan Krimstein -- at the time a creative director at Campbell-Mithun -- steered her toward graduate school at Illinois' Northwestern University and the advertising business. "He thought I'd love it, and he was right," Ms. Waxman-Arteta said.
She gained experience via a 13-year run at EuroRSCG, New York, managing accounts across a variety of product categories and media channels. Her first taste of digital media came in 1994, when she helped launch some of the first online advertising for Volvo.
Ms. Waxman-Arteta was recruited to WPP-owned JWT in 2005 to lead the Merrill Lynch business, but was quickly asked to lend her talents to additional accounts, such as Macy's. And rather than being boxed in by her "account" title, she also served as producer on some spots. For Ford Motor, she worked on the "Bold Moves" campaign, a rare documentary glimpse inside the auto giant that was unveiled in weekly online episodes.
Most recently, she's been busy growing JWT's massive chunk of Microsoft business, starting from the "People Ready" account the agency won in July 2008, adding the $100 million assignment for search engine Bing, and picking up the Microsoft Office business, too.
It's Ms. Waxman-Arteta's breed of do-it-all attitude that industry observers are hailing as the way forward for star account managers of the future. "Beth makes the impossible possible on a daily basis," said Gayle Troberman, Microsoft's chief creative officer.
"I've heard the rumor that account management is in demise and that it has a reputation problem," Ms. Waxman-Arteta said. "But I think the real issue is not account management, it's people who show up to work in our industry to simply manage. That's not what the industry needs.
"If we want to change the reputation of account management, we should start by acknowledging that management is really only the most basic skill-set of account management. Great account management -- and in my opinion there is no room for anything less than great -- is really made up of passionate leadership. ... In today's rapidly evolving landscape, nothing is more important than that."