CLOSE-UP: NEWSMAKER - NatMags' magazine maverick finally steps down

Terry Mansfield's drive and massive personality will be missed.

The boy from Walthamstow has done good. After more than 40 years spent bringing colour to the media business, Terry Mansfield CBE must have one of the highest profiles in the publishing industry.

It all began at the advertising agency DH Brocklesby in 1958, where the 16-year-old Mansfield took a job as an office boy. Then national service intervened. He did his time as a Redcoat and radio presenter and fetched up on Christmas Island, made famous for hosting atomic tests. "Perhaps the reason I'm so crazy is the radiation," Mansfield suggests.

He also blames his inclination to work with women on his time on Christmas Island. "There were 4,228 men and just two women. Having spent 15 months with men, I'd had enough of it."

Conde Nast came to the rescue with a job in ad sales. "Working with all the Vogue girls, it was like an Aladdin's cave," Mansfield recalls. He stayed there until 1966, when he went to work with Jocelyn Stevens, the editor of Queen magazine. "It was like leaving the Vatican and joining a pirate ship. At the interview, Stevens asked me if I'd ever been to school. He said: 'I do like to employ people who've been to school at least once.'" Mansfield decided that working with Stevens would be fun.

Stevens was an inspiration to Mansfield, as was Betty Kenward, the editor of Jennifer's Diary, Queen's society column. "She taught me the importance of contacts. She said: 'You can lose your money, your possessions, but the one thing that matters is contacts. You should always be able to ring people.'"

Mansfield is a consummate networker and salesman. He has sold advertising in 38 countries, has flown on Concorde 57 times and always managed to buttonhole a fellow passenger as a potential customer or contact. One of his claims to fame is that he sold advertising to the former Ugandan leader General Idi Amin in the 70s.

But he has done far more than just sell during his career in glossy magazines.

He moved to The National Magazine Company in 1969 as a senior sales rep with Queen magazine but, after becoming the publisher of the merged Harpers & Queen in the late 70s, he was promoted to deputy managing director of the company and then managing director in 1982. He was in the job for 20 years, before becoming the president and chief executive last year. And since 1984, he's also been the chairman of COMAG Magazine Marketing.

Mansfield thinks of himself as a talent spotter - "Lou Grade without the cigar" - and at the top of his list of achievements would be a fair few of the many editors that he has worked with.

When asked to name some of the "really special" editors, he rattles off a list including Deirdre McSharry, who helped to launch Country Living magazine, and Linda Kelsey, who worked on She magazine and introduced Mansfield to the concept of women juggling their lives. Then there's Fiona Macpherson, the editor of Harpers & Queen, who worked on despite being diagnosed with cancer. Not forgetting Pat Roberts Cairns, who launched House Beautiful, or Rosie Boycott, who helped to develop Esquire. Last, but far from least, there's the former Cosmopolitan editor Marcelle d'Argy Smith. "Where would I be in my life without Marcelle?" Mansfield asks.

The first editor he mentions is his protege turned sparring partner Nicholas Coleridge, the managing director of Conde Nast, who was made the editor of Harpers & Queen under Mansfield's direction. He's also emphatic that one of the most important people in his working life has been his wife Helen, who is often at his side at industry events. "My wife has always been the managing director of my family and she is also my PR and business adviser," he says.

Mansfield's own talent and commitment has been recognised publicly with the award of a CBE in 2002 and in 2001 with the PPA's Marcus Morris Award - the highest honour in magazine publishing. His work for NatMags was acknowledged in 1993 when its parent company, the US-based Hearst Corporation, made him the first non-American board member in its 106-year history.

"I've done better working for an American company," Mansfield says. "They don't care about where you come from, it's never a big issue. What is the drama about where you come from? What's exciting about life is where you're going."

From the South West Essex Technical College to the top of the publishing business, Mansfield has come a long way. Although he's giving up his executive duties, he'll still be a consultant for the Hearst Corporation in the UK and Europe. He'll still be talent spotting, but he'll also be looking for potential acquisitions and raising the profile of Hearst this side of the Atlantic. "The difference is that I'm going to stop interfering in NatMags. I'm a gun for hire as far as Duncan Edwards is concerned."

He'll perhaps have a little more time for his other interests. At home in Hertfordshire he has an unlikely passion in the shape of a love of tractors. He's also keen on yoga, which he learnt on the floor of the editor's office at Cosmopolitan. And he is the chairman of the board of trustees for Victim Support.

Mansfield's work with Victim Support has given him a new perspective on life and made him more sharply aware of the huge mix of cultures in the UK. "One thing the media business hasn't caught up with enough is the diversity of this country - the old and the new running together in parallel." His enthusiasm is palpable.

But after four decades in publishing, what is the secret of his success?

"Sniff the air and act accordingly," is Terry Mansfield's advice.

WHY THERE'S ONLY ONE TERRY MANSFIELD

NICHOLAS COLERIDGE, managing director, Conde Nast

Having worked for, with and against Terry for 20 years, I feel well qualified to comment. He gave me my first editorship (of Harpers & Queen) for which I am forever grateful, since he was taking a bit of a risk on me at the time. Since then, we have competed vigorously and publicly for 14 years, sometimes reduced to name-calling and dirty dealing.

He's an extraordinary figure, almost surreal - there will never be another Terry Mansfield. I admire his incredible energy and ridiculously youthful looks. His heart is certainly in the right place - he's a loyal person and wants things to be for the best.

I shall miss his daft stunts, such as working for a morning in a newsagent's shop to discover which magazines readers buy, and dressing up in strange costumes (magician, Arab, Chinaman, etc) to give speeches.

I shall miss his terrible old conversational gambits ("If you were on a desert island, which seven magazines would you take with you?") and his endearing wild tangents in meetings. He loved magazines - they should chisel that on his gravestone one day.

DUNCAN EDWARDS, managing director, National Magazine Company

It has been something of a tradition at NatMags that our managing directors have done long stints in office (I am only the seventh since 1910) and Terry was no exception. He held the most senior management job here from 1982 to 2001 and presided over a hugely successful period for the business.

During this time, NatMags has launched Country Living, House Beautiful, Zest and Esquire and purchased Prima, Best and You & Your Wedding.

Terry loves every part of the magazine business and has always seen it as the most creative of all media. He has always been interested in the nuts and bolts of what makes a successful magazine business tick and still enjoys making ad sales visits and experiencing the realities of life as an independent retailer. It is a fact of his career that he always managed to attract the best and the brightest creative talent to work at NatMags and this is a legacy that continues today. And I am delighted that he is going to remain connected to NatMags through his consultancy with Hearst.

He has been over the years an inspiring boss, a wonderful teacher and a great friend.

CHRISTINE WALKER, partner, Walker Media

If I were only allowed three words to describe Terry's significant career, they would be Magical Magazine Madness.

He is one of the most infectiously enthusiastic people I know and a man who doesn't understand the words "no" and "can't".

In May 1996 at the PPA National Conference at the Grosvenor House, Terry persuaded me to be sawn in half by him on stage, followed by me leading him to a fate of bondage in a box.

One of my early memories of Terry was him coming in to see me when I was the chief executive of Zenith, flamboyantly throwing all the NatMags magazines across my office floor, plonking himself on the sofa beside me and off he went ... Good Housekeeping this ... Cosmopolitan that ... etc, etc.

A thoroughly enjoyable and informative 30 minutes. Roll the clock on 13 years and he recently popped in to Walker Media to tell me that he had just been in Marks & Spencer on Oxford Street and could he share an idea or two with me. Hearst is very lucky to retain his services as a consultant.

There will never be another Terry Mansfield.

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