Marchesano’s exit marks end of transformation officer post at Nielsen

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Michael Marchesano, who will leave his current position as exec VP-chief transformation officer at Nielsen Co. at the end of this month, told Media Businessthat even though “there was an opportunity for me there, it’s not where I see my future at this point in my career.” He added that he will have an announcement on his next career step shortly.

In the internal memo distributed last Tuesday announcing Marchesano’s resignation, Nielsen Chairman-CEO David Calhoun stated, “Mike and his team have created a strong foundation of business process improvement and efficiency initiatives that have achieved significant early results. Thanks to Mike’s leadership, we now have a sturdy platform upon which to transform the Nielsen Co. into an integrated operating company.”

Since Marchesano stepped down as president-CEO of VNU Business Media USA to accept the new post of exec VP-chief transformation officer last August, he has been working on a number of cost-cutting and integration initiatives.

For example, by reconfiguring the space Nielsen rents for its headquarters at 770 Broadway in Manhattan, he said, “We’re able to give up two floors at 72,000 square feet per floor,” which is approximately 25% of the space. “This has nothing to do with reducing head count.”

He added: “The new design is also allowing more collaboration among the different Nielsen companies.”

With Marchesano’s departure, the transformation officer position will no longer exist. “You’ve got to remember that this office was created before Dave Calhoun arrived in September,” Marchesano said. “The transformation of the company will continue, but Dave will take a different approach, working through [existing] departmental functions.”

Transformation, consolidation and integration have been major components of Marchesano’s role ever since he joined b-to-b publishing company Bill Communications in 1999 as president, reporting to CEO John Wickersham. At that time, Bill was already owned by Dutch publisher VNU. (In January of this year, VNU changed its name to Nielsen.)

From the outset, Marchesano was responsible for integrating acquisitions. In the year before he started at Bill, the company had acquired more than 30 publications and related trade shows. “I came in September 1999 with the mandate of beginning to integrate all those disparate assets and to start building the digital platforms,” he said.

Then, in 2000, VNU purchased Miller Freeman—which included more than 100 trade shows along with numerous trade titles—and renamed the enterprise VNU USA. “The integration of Miller Freeman was huge, and it took the better part of a year,” Marchesano said. “In June 2001, John Wickersham decided to leave VNU and I was appointed to run Business Media.”

Three months later, the events of 9/11 plunged the already sinking b-to-b advertising market further downward. “So in 2002 we really had to right-size the business and took the head count from about 2,800 to 1,400 in a year,” Marchesano said. By building the trade show business and through other organic growth, “we were able to grow the bottom line every year in that period from 2001 to 2006,” he added.

Calhoun’s July 10 memo recognized this. “Despite the sluggish advertising economy, Mike was able to deliver growing profits as he made the tough portfolio, expense and people decisions that were necessary for the long-term success of the business,” Calhoun wrote.

Prior to joining Bill Communications, Marchesano was president-CEO of BPA International (since renamed BPA Worldwide), the business media auditing firm. He spent more than 20 years at BPA, becoming its chief executive in 1994.

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