Kim Kelleher left Conde Nast after six years running Self to take over Sports Illustrated, not Time . It was five months before Time Inc.'s then-CEO abruptly moved her to the company flagship.
Ad Age's Magazine A-List: Kim Kelleher Is Publisher of the Year
"I was deeply embedded in what was happening at SI," Ms. Kelleher recalls now. "The shift happened very quickly. I didn't know that much about Time , to be quite candid, other than from a reader perspective, which I've been since college. I was pleasantly surprised when I got here and saw that they too are on the cutting edge of the digital frontier."
Time has gone on to have a great 2011. Credit belongs to its veteran team and status as winner of the Newsweekly War -- the first round, anyway -- but also to the new executive in charge, who's made smart changes and bolstered the magazine's case with big ad buyers.
"What she brings to the table is the ability to effectively listen to her clients' challenges and respond understanding the full strategy behind what we're trying to achieve," said Allison Howald, VP-U.S. director of print investment and group account director at PHD.
"She brings a good marketing savvy, some of which I think she brought from Conde Nast," says George Janson, managing partner and director of print at Group M. "She takes the time to listen about what it is we're trying to accomplish for our clients. She recognizes that one size doesn't fit all, so she encourages her team to bring us customized opportunities for clients."
In one of her first big moves, Ms. Kelleher integrated Time 's print sales and marketing staff with its digital counterpart. "The clients are sitting there with one bucket of money and they're charged with deciding the allocations to different mediums," Ms. Kelleher says. "I wanted to be able to address them before those allocations."
Time 's integration -- a continuous process, Ms. Kelleher says -- could be a test bed for other Time Inc. titles, Mr. Janson says. "It could be some good learning that she's going to get for the rest of the company."
By May, Time Inc. had promoted Ms. Kelleher to worldwide publisher at Time , a title that had disappeared when Ed McCarrick left in 2008. She set about bringing the business units back together. Significant global deals have followed.
Some might say Time 's success this year wasn't exactly "organic," reflecting external events such as a royal wedding and Osama bin Laden's killing, arguably the biggest news in a decade. "Those were exceptional sellers for us, but even backing those out we are still trending significantly up over last year," Ms. Kelleher responds. "You can't look at things in isolation either. News is going to continue to happen."