Fast Learner Generates New McCann Business

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Prospecting for ad business is like giving a child up for adoption, says Marjorie Altschuler: Once you have it, you hand it over to others to raise.

"I put my heart and soul into [finding new business] and then give it away," she says.

As exec VP-new business director at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, she's had to give up a brood. McCann's worldwide new-business gains for 1997 passed the $1 billion mark. And Ms. Altschuler's New York team was directly responsible for about $350 million of it, including the $100 million account wins of MasterCard International and Motorola.

Ms. Altschuler's success has come from treating new business as an open adoption, bringing creatives and account staff into the process early.

She points out some clients never actually see her during the selection process.

More time with children
It was a desire to spend more time with her children that led Ms. Altschuler into business development. She had started her career in research and account management at Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, then took a sabbatical in the 1980s to spend time with her family before returning to the agency business in 1990.

It was when she joined J. Walter Thompson Co., New York, in 1990 that she made the switch to business development.

Ms. Altschuler moved to McCann in 1994, dividing her time between strategic planning and new-business development. It eventually became a full-time development job, and she built up a five-person new-business group to handle work in New York, and North America.

There's never a dull moment. "It's learning a new business every few weeks," she says. "It's very stimulating."

And always changing. Despite the agency's recent wins, she's looking for clients in beer, retail and telecommunications.

"You win one and everyone's excited for two days and then there's the next one," she says.

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