Auton, 53, has spent 26 years working her way up the IPC ladder, and was previously the managing director of IPC's Country and Leisure Media Group. The division is the largest within IPC and publishes titles ranging from Country Life to Cage & Aviary Birds.
However, despite this experience she had been considered a rank outsider for the position because of the strength of both the internal IPC candidates and the possibility that AOL Time Warner would impose its own candidate into the job.
Auton takes over from Sly Bailey, who quit IPC earlier this year to replace Philip Graf as the chief executive of Trinity Mirror. Auton will report to Richard Atkinson, the Time Inc executive vice-president and chief financial officer.
Atkinson said: "Sylvia is a dedicated and gifted manager who has always commanded the respect, admiration and loyalty of her staff. She's truly a consummate publishing professional with the experience, skill and vision to lead IPC smartly forward."
Following Auton's appointment, IPC announced that Linda Genower, the managing director of IPC Connect, its women's weeklies group, would be leaving the company. Genower has been at IPC for 20 years.
Genower had been an IPC Media board director since 1994 and, alongside Auton, was part of the team that undertook the management buy-out from Reed Elsevier in 1998.
She also played a role in the £1.15 billion sale of the IPC Media business to AOL Time Warner in 2001.
Genower, who has been the managing director of IPC Connect since 1998, is retiring from the business. She is leaving IPC Media at Easter.
- Headliner, p14.