GLOBAL BRIEF: Kugelman’s 30-year stint takes her to top of Y&R. The New York shop’s chief claims not to have a ’fix-it’ brief. Jade Garrett reports

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.

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.’


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