100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry
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Marianne FEY

Executive Vice President, Managing Director • McCann Erickson Midwest • Age 52
 
 
 
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Why did you want to work in the auto industry? It wasn't really that I wanted to. It was my backyard; I grew up here. I remember when I was interviewed for my first job it was an agency doing automotive advertising, called the Competitive Edge. The people doing the interview were not from this area; they were from New Mexico. They asked, "What kind of car experience do you have?" I was right out of college, and I didn't have any work experience.

My answer was "I live in Detroit; I grew up with car experience; we all do." We're all affected by the industry. Even though my father was a builder, when the car business was down, his business was down. Cars were a part of my world. It was a natural for me.

First automotive job: At Competitive Edge in Albuquerque, N.M., in September 1980. I worked with Buick dealer ad associations.

Proudest professional achievement: I remember what I answered five years ago — this agency that I started right out of college and 10 years later I was the president of it, and we sold to McCann Erickson; that's how I ended up here. And I'm still proud of that.

But in the last two or three years in the industry, in this business, we have had rough, rough, years. Now my proudest achievement is being a part of this team at McCann, which has been able to protect all of these employees over this terrible period and maintained employment of all these people.

We lost some business; we picked up some business; we cobbled it together. We protected the jobs of all our people, and this agency is coming out in good shape. I'm grateful and proud.

Current challenge at work: You've got to keep the agency viable in terms of all the new technology and all the new media opportunities and make sure your people keep up with it.

Dream job: I'm pretty close to my dream job. We're 300 people; other agencies are in the thousands. I have the best of both. I have this smallish environment here, and I have the reach of the world through McCann Worldgroup.

What you do to relax: I'm happily married and have a 10-year-old daughter. My husband and I have a passion for art. We like to collect and follow regional art. There's nothing better than a 10-year-old kid. They're still innocent; they're fun. We enjoy Michigan in the summer and travel.

— Arlena Sawyers

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