A Marketing Chief Who Makes the Numbers

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With an undergraduate degree in quantitative economics from Stanford and a resume heavy with experience on Wall Street, consulting and strategic planning, Stephanie Klein Peponis

Stephanie Klein Peponis, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Revlon.

isn't a prototypical chief marketing officer. So her appointment last year as CMO of Revlon turned some heads.

Ms. Klein Peponis, 37, came to Revlon as a Boston Consulting Group consultant for CEO Jack Stahl upon his taking the job in 2002. In May 2003, she joined Revlon full time as executive vice president and chief planning and business developing officer. Four months later, she became CMO in her first true marketing job. Some close to the company saw her appointment as more about making numbers for the debt-burdened company than memorable advertising.

Making her numbers
To be sure, Ms. Klein Peponis is showing she knows how to make her numbers. Revlon last year had sales and share growth for the first time in four years. Sales growth in the first quarter of 2004 was up 6% to $308 million.

"At the end of the day, marketing is about dollars and cents and getting impact," she says. "I'm fairly facile with numbers and able to understand sales patterns and different behaviors by customers, and look at other areas of the business in an analytical way. That provides a great underpinning, particularly for this industry, which I think is such a great marriage of image and fun and design, but is probably one of the more hotly contested consumer-goods sectors. I feel I can bridge the two sides of it."

Sales declines that Revlon saw between 1997 and 2001 were "something the company did to itself," she says.

Communications breakdown
Marketing, sales and other operations weren't working together, she says. "You'd find things being marketed in stores that were discontinued, which is just a fundamental breakdown of communication." Revlon also "underinvested in brands," she says.

With three sons, ages 3 to 5, and a demanding job at a company in turnaround mode, discipline is a must for Ms. Klein Peponis. "I suspect I may be above average on the discipline side," she says, "and that gives me the ability to make decisions that help in a turnaround situation when time is short and sometimes data are even shorter."

"Jack [Stahl] tells us we're still in the third inning," she says. She knows whereof she speaks in baseball metaphors, having been married 13 years to Art Peponis, a former ballplayer turned banker. Even with Revlon's lineup card filled with many changes, Ms. Klein Peponis is confident she's in the game to stay.

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