THE SCARDINO FILE
1999 Wins Campaign Media Personality of the Year.
1998 Named Veuve Cliquot Business Woman of the year.
1997 Appointed chief executive of Pearson, the international media
group, which includes Pearson Education, the Financial Times Group, the
Penguin Group and Pearson TV.
1997 Received the New York City Partnership’s International Commerce and
To 1997 Chief executive of the Economist Group, which publishes a range
of publications in addition to The Economist and provides a range of
To 1985 Managing partner in a Savannah, Georgia, law firm.
1984 Wins a Pulitzer for the paper which, despite the award, collapses
with debts which took over ten years for the family to pay off.
1978 Founded and published the Georgia Gazette with her husband.
As the chief executive of Pearson, Majorie Scardino has already this
year been voted one of the world’s seven most powerful women by Fortune
magazine, made number 11 in The Sunday Times’ Media Power List and voted
number ten among Sunday Business’ Media Elite. She is also now
Campaign’s Media Personality of the Year.
Feted as the first female chief executive of a FTSE Top 100 company,
applauded for her native Texan dynamism and renowned as a former rodeo
barrel racer, Scardino’s achievements in reshaping Pearson in the past
12 months have added to her accolades.
Scardino has made it her aim to transform Pearson from a flabby
collection of eclectic assets into a well-honed media company and 1999
saw her in divesting mood. Pearson off-loaded its stakes in Tussauds,
Lazards Bank, BSkyB, MacMillan General Reference and Extel. And as the
year draws to a close, the company has emerged as a more tightly focused
group - the ’100 per cent media company’ as Scardino has dubbed it. Now
neatly delineated into four main divisions - Pearson Education, The
Financial Times Group, Pearson Television and Penguin - the company’s
strategy has paid dividends both in terms of its buoyant share price and
its latest financial results.
Wooing Richard Eyre from ITV to be chief executive of Pearson Television
was a fitting coup to end the year.
Streamlining has been accompanied by a firm line on new-media
development, and Pearson has set aside pounds 120 million to develop an
internet strategy which runs across the group. The old days of Pearson
as champion of British conservatism have been soundly laid to rest.
Yet just three years ago, when Scardino ascended the Pearson throne, her
appointment raised City eyebrows. Back then Pearson was widely seen as a
poorly managed, disparate company desperately in need of a vision and
firm leadership. Scardino was not the heavy-hitter the City was looking
for, her background did not suggest she had the stature for the role and
her direct, down-to-earth style troubled the traditionalists.
Scardino, who reportedly adheres to the General MacArthur dictum of
’have a plan, execute it violently, and do it today’, joined Pearson
from The Economist, where she had been chief executive. During her
tenure, revenues had grown by 78 per cent and earnings by 130 per cent -
a taste of things to come from the woman dubbed the ’Texan
Her history in publishing has not, however, been trouble free. Scardino
is clearly a woman with a taste for adventure. After canoeing down the
Cherokee river trail from North Carolina and trying their hand at
shrimping, Scardino and her husband, Albert, launched a Democratic
newspaper in the determinedly Republican town of Savannah in 1978.
Despite winning a Pulitzer in 1984, the paper collapsed with debts that
took the family more than a decade to pay off. But with Pearson’s recent
financial performance riding high, such concerns are well behind
Scardino, and her reputation as one of the most formidable chiefs on the
global media stage is now assured.