Marla Kaplowitz came to New York after college with a goal to work in advertising, but with no job. Today, she's the new CEO of MEC North America, charged with growing and sustaining new-business activity and morale after a tough year for the WPP media firm.
Since taking on the role in October, she has shaken things up internally by holding the first companywide meeting in the U.S., planning a series of trips to every MEC office in the region and insisting on frequent meetings with midlevel management.
"We have a philosophy we talk about as being one MEC and integrated, but we needed to start living that ," she said. "In St. Louis ... they said, "A CEO has never come to see us before.' Another office kept thanking me for coming. I said, you should be expecting this and demanding that I come more often."
She's also looking at continuing the momentum of the firm's social offering, which has already tripled this year. "For us, it's about how do we leverage our owned and paid assets in the earned space," she said.
The Los Angeles native joined MEC last March as president-U.S. clients and head of planning. Before that , she was exec VP-managing director at Publicis Groupe 's MediaVest, where she worked closely with Procter & Gamble.
Knowing what you know now, what career advice would you have given yourself when you were starting out?
To have the confidence to take even more risks early on. Being young is the greatest time and opportunity to explore. Every risk led to personal and professional growth as well as the realization that ultimately it all works out.
What is your favorite book?
"A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving.
Give us one fact about yourself that will surprise people.
I'm a former Valley Girl. Born and raised in Los Angeles.
If I wasn't doing this job, I'd be ...
Doing something related to marketing films.