OPINION: Question time with ... Georgina Crace - IPC’s first group ad sales director is no Gucci two shoes

Sly Bailey is not the only dynamic blonde at IPC. While much has been written about the company’s incoming chief executive, the less high-profile Georgina Crace shares many qualities with her new boss. She has arguably one of the biggest jobs in UK advertising - certainly the broadest in the magazine sector.

Sly Bailey is not the only dynamic blonde at IPC. While much has

been written about the company’s incoming chief executive, the less

high-profile Georgina Crace shares many qualities with her new boss. She

has arguably one of the biggest jobs in UK advertising - certainly the

broadest in the magazine sector.



Appointed a year ago as IPC’s first group ad sales director, Crace is

responsible for delivering the ad sales budgets of the company’s 97

magazines, which in total exceeded pounds 100 million last year.



On taking up the position, she went out into the market to discover just

what key customers thought of IPC. ’After 50 meetings, it was clear that

we had to become more customer focused and more accessible,’ Crace

says.



A year into the job, she has initiated two major reforms to IPC’s

unwieldy advertising sales structure. The first was the formation of IPC

Solutions, which offers advertorial, sponsorship and insert

opportunities across the whole portfolio. The second was to hand

responsibility for IPC’s 12 largest clients to a central sales unit with

the authority to sell group deals across all the magazine and online

brands.



Driving through changes in such an elephantine organisation - with so

many sensitive feet to tread on - can’t have been easy. Crace admits it

was hard work getting everybody on board.



’I learned early on that it wasn’t just about strong leadership, with me

putting down a flag and then leading everyone to it,’ she confesses.



Instead, she spent time encouraging the teams to come around to her way

of thinking. Crace achieved this by locking 35 senior ad managers in a

hotel for three days. They soon accepted her vision of the future, she

says, chuckling at the memory.



But how does she stay on top of nearly 100 magazines in such disparate

markets? ’The biggest challenge in this job is getting the balance right

between the depth of my involvement and the breadth of the portfolio,’

she says. ’I try to ensure best practice. It’s almost like a sanity

check where I make sure that we’re not doing something in one area that

makes no sense in another.’



Crace is an unashamed Essex girl who grew up in Chigwell, went to school

in Loughton and spent her evenings on the dancefloor at the Epping

Forest Country Club. Did she wear white stilettos? ’Of course - I’m an

80s girl.’



After graduating in biology from York University, Crace wrote ’an

assertive letter’ to The Daily Express - the paper her parents read -

asking for a job. Stan Myerson, now managing director at Northern &

Shell, offered her a post as a sales executive on the Sunday Express

magazine.



Eight years later, she had risen to ad controller of The Daily Express.

She says she moved to IPC because she needed a new challenge, not

because she was attracted to the glamour of the glossies. ’I’m not a

Gucci two shoes,’ she insists. ’I wouldn’t have joined IPC if I’d

thought it was going to be like Ab Fab.’



Sly Bailey (then Sly Grice), who was managing classified and weeklies,

interviewed Crace for the job of group advertising sales director at IPC

Southbank. Maybe Sly saw something of herself in the person sitting

opposite her. And Crace would some day like to follow Bailey into a

general management role, preferably at IPC.





CRACE ON DRIVE



Determined and driven, Georgina Crace hates tardiness and apathy.

’People who lack commitment, conviction and drive make me mad,’ she

admits. Her PA says: ’If Georgina’s ready to rock and you’re not,

there’ll be trouble.’



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