Charlotte Beers

advertising executive
Born: 7/26/1935
Birthplace: Beaumont, Tex.

Adept at combining her business acumen with a little Southern charm, Beers has paved the way for women to succeed in the extremely competitive milieu of advertising. Exceptionally hard working, she carved out successes for her company and herself at a string of jobs. First as a market researcher for Uncle Ben's, next as an account executive at J. Walter Thompson, where she became the first female vice president in the firm's 106-year history. Disappointed when she was denied further promotion, she left Thompson for Tatham-Laird & Kudner where she worked 100-hour weeks for two years to turn around the firms low employee morale and shaky financial status. She became CEO, and under her reign over the next decade increased profit margins to double the industry average, tripled billings to $325 million, and lured in major new business accounts. She resigned in 1992 and was heavily courted by several firms but decided to take on the challenges posed by the $5.4 billion, 8,000-employee multinational Ogilvy & Mather. She stayed for four years, increasing billings by $2 billion, before handing over the reins to Shelly Lazarus, a longtime Ogilvy employee. In Oct. 2001, she joined secretary of state Colin Powell as under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, a post she held until March 2003.

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