Stephanie Kugelman, the new chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam New
York, describes her role as ’a labour of love’ - she’s spent most of her
working life at the agency.
Now, at the age of 51, she is taking the reins of an agency with dollars
3.4 billion in billings and 2,000 staff, replacing Linda Srere who moves
over to become chief client officer.
’I’m not in a place that is fraught with problems,’ Kugelman says, ’so I
don’t have a ’fix it’ brief. You always have to believe that there is
room for improvement but my brief is very much about the work, our
clients and their business problems. There is a wealth of talent at this
agency but some people have not realised everything about themselves -
it will be part of my job to bring that out and get back some of the
And what does she consider the biggest challenge facing her?
’My job now isn’t just about running the agency. I also have to worry
about doing it profitably - I firmly believe that one should not
preclude the other,’ she says.
Kugelman’s is not the only recent senior appointment at the agency. Last
month, Jim Ferguson joined from the Dallas office of DDB Needham to
become Y&R’s president and chief creative officer. Kugelman will be
responsible for two more hirings. She will head the search for
candidates to fill two of her former jobs, head of planning and the main
client contact on the Sears account, worth an estimated dollars 350
’I expect to make the appointments by 1 July,’ she says. ’You can expect
one to be from within the agency and one from outside.’
She intends to continue to be involved with the Sears business and
denies any rumours that the account is not as safe at Y&R as it once
was. ’Sears is facing a lot of issues and it is time for a different
voice, but I don’t believe it’s not happy with us,’ she says.
’The company is entering an important phase. Its competitors have
changed and its consumers are changing. The account isn’t under threat
but has challenges.’
Kugelman joined Y&R in her early twenties as a research associate,
beginning her long climb up the corporate ladder to serve most recently
as the vice-chairman and managing director of Y&R New York. In the 90s,
she was instrumental in securing several of Y&R’s high-profile account
wins, including Sony Electronics and United Airlines. She was also
responsible for raising the profile of account planning at the agency,
turning the research department into the Insights Group in 1991.
Kugelman sees her new position as ’one of influence, not of power’ and,
nearly 30 years after joining the agency, she believes it is the place
where she will see out the remainder of her working days.
’I have spent my whole life at Y&R,’ she says. ’There’ll always be the
issue of loyalty for me.’