ABM conference launches with tribute to departing CEO Hughes

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Charleston, S.C—At its annual conference Sunday night, American Business Media paid tribute—much of it tongue in cheek—to CEO Gordon T. Hughes II, who is leaving the organization in June. Hughes has led the association of business media companies since 1994 when it was known as American Business Press.

At a dinner Sunday, Roger Friedman, president of Lebhar-Friedman, and Hugh Roome, president-consumer & professional publishing at Scholastic, took the dais while wearing oversized bow ties in acknowledgement of Hughes' colorful fashion sense, which is partial to seersucker, pastels and the occasional bow tie.

Friedman and Roome introduced a video tribute to Hughes that noted his guidance of the organization through the rise of the Internet, the dot-com crash and the Great Recession. The video noted that Hughes introduced the CEBA awards, the Grand Neal Award, the Timothy White Award and the Business Information Network statistics.

Guy Wendler, chairman of Stamats Business Media, was one of several ABM members who praised Hughes' tenure in the video. “You, Gordon, will be hard to replace,” he said.

A successor is expected to be named in June, sources said. In an interview with BtoB's Media Business, Hughes contemplated what his successor will need to guide the association through the changes facing b-to-b media.

“It's a good time for a change of management,” Hughes said. “The economy is about to turn around. The first job (of the new CEO) is to really convince the current membership to stay and then be very aggressive about bringing in former members and new members. That's probably job one.

“The second thing is that I hope (the new CEO) will not be tied to a legacy of print or b-to-b. I think the person who comes next should come from outside the business, from Thomson Reuters or an information business or from Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley—someone who understands where the business is going to go, who understands that the delivery platforms are changing. This person cannot be married to the past. Their DNA has to be with the future.”

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