Last July Ms. Carter, 46, was tapped for the job of president-Europe, Middle East and Africa at Grey. She built on her 22-year track record at the agency, first as a new-business star in New York and later as the first woman at Grey to be a worldwide account director.
Big boost from Mars
Ms. Carter first lived in London in 1996 as the global account director charged with building a global organization to handle Mars Inc., which suddenly jumped from a $60 million account for Grey to pet-food billings of $250 million after Mars fired its then-biggest agency, Cordiant Communications Group's Bates Worldwide.
"The Mars job ripped me out of my comfort zone," Ms. Carter says. "There's a huge difference between running global business and sitting in New York thinking you understand global business."
Among other things, Ms. Carter set up centers of excellence in Europe, Asia and Latin America. These regional centers aim at improving quality and efficiency.
After she returned to New York in 1999, the Mars business she continued to oversee kept growing, with a $50 million Twix candy bar assignment for the U.S. and Europe.
"I believe global brands are the future of our business," Ms. Carter says. "They're the glue that holds networks together."
When the Grey Global Group holding company was created last year, Ms. Carter was among the new generation of managers identified.
Works country by country
Despite a penchant for global business, she also has focused on Grey's European agencies country-by-country, looking at management succession issues and local new-business wins. In France, Grey bought the hottest Paris creative shop, Callegari Berville, and made creative head Pierre Berville president of the merged Callegari Berville Grey. The Scandinavian countries were reorganized into a regional hub based in Copenhagen, a structure some multinational clients like Procter & Gamble Co. are adopting.
Grey Worldwide is the eighth-largest agency network in Europe. Less than a full year into the job, Ms. Carter faces a slowing ad market in Europe. "Ad spend is growing but not like in 2000," she says.
At least so far, the European ad industry isn't going through as severe a downturn as in the U.S. Ms. Carter says, "We remain cautiously optimistic."