Stephanie Howley: 40 Under 40 2012

SVP, human resources, Cohn & Wolfe
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Stephanie Howley is the beating heart of global marketing communications firm Cohn & Wolfe. As SVP for human resources, she has helped make the WPP agency a top employer, bursting with some of the best talent in the business.

Perhaps one of her biggest successes to date was dealing with the 2008 merger of C&W and GCI Group, a monumental task. Howley rose to the challenge, however, with initiatives such as a "speed dating" program to introduce staff to each other. The success of the merger and Howley’s efforts are shown by the new business C&W won within its first six months – three Fortune top 15 companies – Walmart, ExxonMobil, and McKesson. She has placed huge emphasis on training and development.

In 2009 her team introduced the agency’s formal training program, Cohn & Wolfe University. Howley has since overseen the development of the Your Personal Brand Plan, which has changed the way the agency looks at career development, and has formalized C&W’s volunteer program, Every Wolfe Has a Heart.

Meanwhile, her skills as a recruiter have helped save thousands of dollars for the firm, with recruiting costs falling by 75%. Howley has single-handedly pulled together more than 80% of the agency’s global leadership team. On top of all this, she is one of the most recognizable HR leaders in the wider industry, serving as chairwoman for the Council of PR Firms’ HR Roundtable. She is also a board member of The Lagrant Foundation, whose mission is to increase the number of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in advertising, marketing, and PR.

"I have never seen any HR leader make the kind of impact that Stephanie has made at Cohn & Wolfe," says agency CEO Donna Imperato.

"From the ideas and energy she brings to our organization to the incredible talent she is able to attract and develop," adds Imperato, "Stephanie has helped shaped our culture into one of the industry’s best."

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