01 Sep 2003
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These Are the Good Old Days

Anne Moore and Her Classmates from 1978 Assess the Last 25 Years
by Susan Young

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Presented with thirteen job offers in 1978, Ann S. Moore accepted the one in the industry she knew she wanted to be in — magazine publishing. It also happened to be the one offering the lowest salary. “People were astounded with the choice I made. They thought I was crazy,” says Moore. But she knew it was the right decision. When she was appointed CEO of Time Inc. in 2002, the rest of the world knew too.

“I’ve always had a long-term view,” notes Moore. “You’ve got to choose a career you’ll be happy growing old in because time goes by so quickly. You blink and it’s been 25 years.”

Moore — the highest-ranking woman in the AOL Time Warner organization — oversees more than 130 popular magazines, including the company’s high-circulation weeklies Time, Sports Illustrated, People, and Entertainment Weekly, along with well-known publications such as Fortune, Field & Stream, and Southern Living. Given her unique perspective as head of a publishing powerhouse, Moore seemed the ideal member of the MBA Class of 1978 to provide an overview of major trends that have shaped the last 25 years. From her spacious corner office in Manhattan’s Time & Life Building, the down-to-earth CEO spoke with the Bulletin about her experiences as an executive, a woman, a mother, and a New Yorker. In doing so, she shed light on some major social and business developments that have shaped — and been enriched by — the lives and careers of her classmates, sixteen of whom are profiled in the pages that follow.

Media, Entertainment, & Leisure

When it comes to assessing change over the past 25 years, perhaps the best place to start is technology. When Moore began her job in the finance department at Time magazine, she was set up with the state-of-the-art tools of the day: an adding machine and an IBM Selectric typewriter. But soon desktop computers were introduced, and they revolutionized the way business was done, helping the economy evolve from a manufacturing base to one driven by services and information. The Information Age had arrived, and Moore was at the heart of it. The amount of print materials served up to Americans was exploding: In 1978, Time Inc. published 6 magazines; today it publishes 132.

Technology transformed broadcast media as well. In the late 1970s, most Americans had three networks on their TV sets: ABC, CBS, and NBC. When cable and satellite dishes entered the scene, the number of available channels grew rapidly. CNN made world news available nearly instantaneously and delivered it 24/7. And what once was seen and heard only on television is now “rebroadcast” via the Internet.

“Obviously, things have changed tremendously,” observes Moore, who admits she’s recently been introduced to the world of “blogs” — where teenagers, including her son Brendan and his friends, often keep online diaries. “But I’m not sure that the technological changes have been any more dramatic than during other 25-year periods. Radio and television were both revolutions in their time.” The proliferation of information, says Moore, is one reason she is bullish on the future of magazine publishing. “Trusted editing is our core competency. Now more than ever, we all need people we trust to help us filter the flood of information,” she notes. “A lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same. Reading and thinking are still very important.”

One dramatic change has been how the media and entertainment industry has become a key driver of the American economy and a powerful influence on the rest of the world. Moore is not surprised that a significant number of her classmates have made their mark in the media and entertainment realm — be it publications, television, movies, theater, or the arts. At graduation, investment banking and consulting ranked as top career choices. But over the years, she’s seen her fellow ’78ers branch out. “Sometimes it takes time to figure out where you really want to be,” she says. “I was lucky to have known all along.”

If anything, the pursuit of careers seems more stressful today than ever, Moore notes. “Everyone has been so stressed — moms, kids, dads — everyone. There’s now a real effort to simplify our lives.” Sitting where she does at the top of the world’s most influential magazine publishing operation, trends often translate into new publications. Real Simple, one of the newest Time Inc. magazines dedicated to helping readers simplify their lives, won the Ad Age Magazine of the Year award in 2002. “Everybody is searching for balance. The magazine filled a need and has really taken off.”

Moore, in fact, frequently advises others, particularly women who are often expected to take on more of the child-rearing responsibilities, to consider where they really want to be. “Don’t be in such a hurry to get here,” she says, gesturing to her corner office and its view of midtown Manhattan. “Take your time. You lose control of your life as you move up the ladder. Most people think it’s the opposite.”

That said, Moore worries that the leadership positions in society today are not as sought-after as they need to be. “I think the corruption and mismanagement that have dominated the headlines are not pervasive,” she says. But given all the negative publicity, she adds, “I’m worried about the pipeline of talent. It’s harder to find good people who want to be CEOs or politicians,” and notes that over the years both careers have lost rank in Money magazine’s annual list of the most desirable careers.

Moore, who spent a decade at Sports Illustrated and another ten years at People before being appointed Time Inc.’s chairman and CEO, says that while her own job packs a high-stress quotient, she still gets to have some fun. She’s been a regular at the Super Bowl and the Olympics and has thrown out the first ball at Shea Stadium three times (when the Mets were winning!). She’s also attended the Oscars and the Golden Globe Awards. While she avoids name-dropping, inevitably names do drop (from Jack Welch to Lyle Lovett), and one assumes her Rolodex is as star-studded as a Hollywood blockbuster, but far more enduring in value.

Globalization

Looking over the last quarter-century, globalization is another powerful trend that has engaged the talents of the Class of 1978, whether in trade and e-commerce, or in banking and money management.

Moore herself has tested the global waters in a strategic manner. Time Inc. is already the largest publisher of magazines in the world, with an audience of three hundred million, but the bulk of its readers are still in the United States. Moore’s approach is to acquire already-proven magazine publishers in other countries and to continue the pattern of publishing local versions of some of Time Inc.’s better-known titles. “Time and Fortune are global brands,” observes Moore, noting that versions of Time are now edited and published locally in Asia, Canada, Europe, Latin America, and the South Pacific. “And we’ve started a rollout of In Style around the world. We are expanding its presence into the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Korea, Brazil, Russia, Spain, and Greece.”

Given that Time Inc. already has 25 percent of the U.S. magazine market share in advertising revenue, Moore knows that she’s got to expand internationally to continue the company’s eleven-year growth trend. Two years ago, Time Inc. acquired IPC, the largest magazine publisher in the United Kingdom. “IPC is our first big footprint in another country, and it’s been a wonderful collaboration,” she says, attributing the success of the partnership to the fact that Time Inc. did its homework well. “They are a magazine shop just like us. They’re completely committed, and they’re the best in their business.”

Expanding across the Atlantic to an English-speaking market is the initial step, says Moore. “The real unanswered question is, Can we do the same thing now in a country where we don’t speak the same language? That will be a real test for us,” she observes, noting that she hopes to have an answer within the next few years.

Reflecting on the last 25 years, Moore notes that “globalization is happening because of the media and technology. The world is a smaller place. We’re all connected,” she says, and adds with a smile, “You can’t hide anymore.”

While the technological advances are significant, Moore is quick to point out that technology is not a substitute for substance. In the late 1990s, she recalls, “I had dozens of people walking through the door with business plans for InStyle.com or Time.com that were essentially trying to sell me my own content.” The situation, she reflects, reminded her of the era of consolidations in the late 1970s when many companies were merging, simply rearranging their assets, and claiming to be more valuable. In both cases, “ultimately the numbers didn’t add up,” she notes. “Something has to happen to create value.” Moore is anxious for investors to recover from the bursting of the tech bubble: “If you don’t feed the pipeline, there is no growth, and growth is what keeps the economy moving.”

Giving Back

As CEO of a $5.4 billion company, Ann Moore contrasts her life with that of her mother, a suburban Washington, D.C., homemaker in the 1950s. “My mother did something kind every day of her life,” says Moore. “She helped our church, our school, a neighbor, a charity, her political party. It was people like her who ran our neighborhoods.” While it’s been difficult for women entering the workforce to give back to society in the way they once did, Moore sees an upside to the change: The burden of giving back is now shared by a larger group, which includes corporations. In fact, many women — and men — have brought the mandate to help others to the workplace.

Moore, for example, took an unusual step when she was first appointed chief executive. She initiated a building-wide cleanup with a philanthropic bent. In a move that she reluctantly admits inspired the New York Times to dub her “Hazel,” Moore asked employees to clean out their offices and storerooms for a flea market where all employees could pay $10 to fill up a shopping bag with various items. “There was some really great stuff” — evening bags from the In Style fashion closet, thousands of books, original artwork for magazine covers — “and it was the sale of the century,” says Moore with pride. “It was also a wonderful redistribution of the wealth within the building.” In addition, the sale raised $10,000, which was donated to New York City’s Bottomless Closet, a nonprofit that helps outfit unemployed women for their job search.

At Time Inc., Moore has supported a growing trend toward community service. One example is “Time To Read,” a program that serves more than 27,000 kids and adult learners each year. She is happy to report that many of Time Inc.’s major magazines have their own philanthropic activities, and she requires her executive team to be “principals for a day” at local public schools. “We’re not going to fix our public schools if we never set foot in them,” she says, noting that her son attended Stuyvesant High School, a public school in New York City that specializes in math, science, and technology.

Moore views her own efforts at Time Inc. as part of a trend of community involvement that she has seen among her colleagues and classmates. “I think people are really doing more to improve society today than when we graduated,” asserts Moore, who will stay involved in public education even though her son is off to Harvard College. She was also a founder of Gilda’s Club, a nonprofit that supports people living with cancer, and a member of the bipartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Moore believes that today’s executives need to appreciate what they have and be mindful of those in need. “We CEOs are in such a privileged position. We are not completing our assignment if we don’t use that for the greater good of society.”

Finally, Moore admits that she has “a short fuse” for nostalgia. “The good old days actually weren’t all that good for many people,” she notes. “There is a more level playing field and meritocracy today. You don’t have to wear a three-piece suit to get the job or while you’re on the job. Diversity and individuality are celebrated, and I, for one, am grateful.”

Profiles written by James E. Aisner, Deborah E. Blagg, Garry Emmons, Roger Thompson, and Susan Young.

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