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Diane murray krouse, the daughter of comedian Jan Murray, has used her sense of humor to get where she is today, one of the first women in top management at D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and a leader of the Los Angeles ad community.

Last year, Ms. Krouse, managing partner of the shop's L.A. office and the only woman to head the branch office of a major agency on the West Coast, brought home the highly contested $70 million Gateway 2000 computer account.

"What really separated us out came down to the people and how it felt to work with us," she says.

The agency, with 150 employees and about $200 million in billings, went on to have one of its best years in its 20-year history.

Other clients include General Motors Corp.'s consumer marketing initiative as well as NBC, Blue Cross and Domain Chandon.


As president and later chairwoman of Western States Advertising Association, she helped raise the profile of the advertising community in Los Angeles by working with a team to convince the Los Angeles Times to provide weekly coverage of the business. She also led efforts to train young talent for careers in advertising.

Ms. Krouse grew up in New York, but moved to Los Angeles with her parents, who were in show business. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University, she began her career in 1979 with Benton & Bowles in an account management training program. Her first job was on Zest soap.

Ms. Krouse faces obstacles such as being unable to participate in pitches due to conflicts with other branch offices. "The challenge inherent in doing this job is pretty considerable," she says. "It's tough."

Still, she has managed to stick to her core value. When DMB&B presented her with a silver box in 1992, marking her appointment as its first female exec VP, she noted that although the box was filled with lovely stationery, "it looked suspiciously like a cigar box.

"You have to find your fun in [work]," she says. "It can be grinding. But if you let that get to you, it's lethal."

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