Lisa Donohue

MediaVest USA

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Lisa Donohue wasn't a math whiz in school. She never took a course titled Media 101 in college as she pursued a liberal arts degree almost 20 years ago. But she did know how to think, and she did know how to work with people, and those traits have helped her succeed in the numbers-heavy world of media buying.
Lisa Donohue, exec VP-managing director, MediaVest USA

"These days, the skill set is so much broader. There is no mold anymore. You pretty much are just required to know how to think," says the 40-year-old exec VP-managing director at MediaVest USA. Ms. Donohue oversees the $300 million Masterfoods consolidated agency-of-record assignment, as well as $2.5 billion in spending for Procter & Gamble Co.

In addition, MediaVest USA CEO Laura Desmond recently invited Ms. Donohue to join the agency's newly formed executive committee, where she will oversee integrated communications. "I feel very fortunate to sit in this new role of helping to set the vision and strategy of the entire company," Ms. Donohue says.

The native New Englander returned to her roots when she came to New York in 2004 from sibling media-buying agency Starcom, Chicago, where she was media director on blockbuster accounts such as Morgan Stanley, Discover Card and Nintendo. Her career began there, in what was then the media-buying unit of Leo Burnett Co.

"I've been lucky to have an array of client experiences, and with every new client and every new category it's been like going back to school," Ms. Donohue says. "There is nothing better than working with a team of people who have a burning curiosity to learn more."

"I compare her to an orchestra leader in the way she can be a strong leader and lead by example, but also get in there and play the instruments with everyone else," Ms. Desmond says. "She is the complete package."

In an industry known for fostering a "stay late to be seen" philosophy, staffers say Ms. Donohue always reminds them to have some fun. "I have worked so closely to so many people who knew how to take a step back every once in a while," she says.

These days, her idea of fun includes time on New England beaches to feel "the sand between my toes and the wind in my face." Yet, she admits that some days still can be stressful both inside and outside the office. "After all, I am an avid Boston Red Sox fan."
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