Marianne Fey, 47
Executive Vice President and Managing Director, McCann Erickson Worldwide
Education: B.A., communications arts, Oakland University; M.B.A., Michigan State University
What your college professors didn't teach you: "There isn't enough emphasis at the university level on writing skills. It is one of the most important assets a person can have when entering into business.
"Also, you'll make a lot of contacts as you progress through a long career - clients, vendors, peers, employees and friends. You'll be amazed at how many times you will come across these same people in different positions - especially in Detroit - in the car business. Represent yourself professionally at all times to everyone."
First automotive job: Account executive at Competitive Edge, an ad agency that specialized in local dealer group marketing for General Motors, in Detroit in 1980
Career highlights (all with Competitive Edge Inc.)
- 1990 President
- 1986-90 Senior vice president and general manager
Most fun automotive job: "I've always had the most fun when I'm working directly with car dealers. The work is challenging but most rewarding. Most of what I learned about the car business early in my career was from dealers. Fortunately for me, I'm still working directly with dealers."
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "Early in my management career, I made some big hiring mistakes. I hired people too quickly, without a disciplined and thorough process. I learned that in our business, hiring people is the single most important thing we do."
Proudest achievement: "When I was 31, I engineered the sale of the advertising agency I was running to one of the largest ad agency networks in the world. Making that sale and successfully integrating that agency into a larger environment are achievements I'm particularly proud of."
Current challenge: "At McCann, our number one task is to help make the Buick brand relevant again. Obviously, the products themselves will have the biggest impact on Buick's long-term success, but our job is to make sure the right people get the right message about why Buick still matters, or why it should matter to them. We're in a market where there are over 40 different automotive makes, from Kia all the way up to Maybach, and our branding challenge is to show educated, affluent people why a brand they may never have considered before should be at the top of their shopping list."
On being successful: "Success is both very tangible and remarkably illusory. On the one hand, you know you're a success, at least in business, when you make more money. Money is a way we keep score, and it provides you with the trappings of a comfortable life. On the other hand, as successful as you are by the external measures of accomplishment, compensation and influence, you don't feel that different inside. You're still just you - maybe a little smarter, ideally a little wiser. And the things that matter when you stand in front of a mirror and look yourself in the eye aren't about the measures or trappings of success. They're about the kind of person you are and the choices you make. Regardless of how you're doing in your career, the best success you can have is when you look yourself in the eye and you can tell yourself that far more often than not you've made the right choices a good person makes."
Job to which you aspire: "Sometimes I think it would be a great challenge to jump to the other side of the automotive equation later in my career and own a dealership."
What you do to relax: "Spend time with my family. Read. Write."