During an entertaining episode of The Conversational podcast, host Julie Roehm got honest with friend Wenda Millard, a legendary media executive. Millard regaled Roehm with tales of her print and digital experiences.
Roehm, a thought leader and high-level marketing professional, discussed Millard’s career, which included roles as co-CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Yahoo!’s chief sales officer. She was most recently the vice chairman of MediaLink, a strategic advisory firm she joined in 2009 as president and chief operating officer.
During the interview, Millard disclosed a little-known fact: Her media career began much earlier than when she assumed bold-faced roles at Adweek, New York Magazine, Yahoo! and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
“I started my first newspaper when I was nine,” Millard divulged. “It was the Archer Lane Scoop in Lynnfield, Massachusetts. It was loads of fun – and it was my first entrepreneurial experience.”
Wenda Millard Told Julie Roehm About Hitting the Big Time
After attaining a Harvard University MBA, Millard held leadership posts at acclaimed magazines, including Family Circle, New York Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. Like Roehm, who has worked on profitable corporate turnarounds, Millard found that an early magazine publishing gig became her first turnaround job. As executive vice president and group publisher of Adweek, Mediaweek, and Brandweek, she successfully transformed operations – and gained the appreciative eye of media insiders.
“That was the beginning of my cleanup and startup work,” she said.
Millard went on to spend 20 years in publishing. Despite a dream to become the head of Time Inc., she crossed over to the fledgling internet and digital world in 1996 by becoming the executive vice president at DoubleClick. She enjoyed pioneering new media at the digital advertising company that Google acquired in 2008.
“I felt remarkably privileged to be at the beginning of an entirely new media,” Millard told Roehm. “It was like the beginning of television.”
Millard left DoubleClick to become the chief internet officer of Ziff Davis Media and president of Ziff Davis Internet, a digital media and internet company. The job was fun – but while there, she turned down overtures from Yahoo!, whose management hoped she could repeat her formula to perk up ad sales.
“I loved the idea because Yahoo! was such a mess,” Millard said. “It was such a hairball.”
Millard accepted the Yahoo! challenge and became chief sales officer. In six years, her team raised Yahoo!’s revenue from $700 million to more than $6 billion. She stayed in her role at Yahoo! longer than planned – six years instead of three.
“I thought I would do the turnaround, get them on the right path, and then go,” she said. “But we were having so much fun!”
Simultaneously, Martha Stewart was calling. Literally.
“Martha, who I’d known for a long time, was asking me if I would come over and be president of the U.S. for her,” she said.
Julie Roehm and Wenda Millard Discuss Martha Stewart Marketing Strategies
Initially, Willard took a position on the board for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. and remained at Yahoo! simultaneously, the best of both worlds. Finally, in 2007, Millard assumed the co-CEO and president roles for media for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. and developed intelligent integrated marketing to tie the diverse assets together.
“Talk about a Petri dish for answering questions about intelligent integrated marketing,” Millard said.
Her next phase began when she joined entrepreneur Michael Kassan to build powerhouse consultancy MediaLink as vice chairman and COO, where she remained until just recently.
As the podcast concluded, Julie Roehm commended Millard for networking with media newcomers and introducing them to high-level players who make careers happen.
“When I was growing up in the business, people were incredibly generous to me,” she said. “It makes a difference.”