If the glass ceiling falls in global PR, plenty of women stand ready

WASHINGTON, DC: Speaking before the National Capital Chapter of the PRSA, Ketchum senior partner Lorraine Thelian said that it is only a matter of time before a woman shatters the glass ceiling and is tapped to lead a global PR firm.

WASHINGTON, DC: Speaking before the National Capital Chapter of the PRSA, Ketchum senior partner Lorraine Thelian said that it is only a matter of time before a woman shatters the glass ceiling and is tapped to lead a global PR firm.

WASHINGTON, DC: Speaking before the National Capital Chapter of the

PRSA, Ketchum senior partner Lorraine Thelian said that it is only a

matter of time before a woman shatters the glass ceiling and is tapped

to lead a global PR firm.



’It’s a matter of sheer numbers,’ she said. ’There are an awful lot of

women who could be promoted to CEO positions.’



Thelian, who rose from being a secretary in an agency that was acquired

by Ketchum to head of its DC office to one of the agency’s six senior

partners, believes today’s top women are attractive leadership

candidates because of the diverse paths - dot-coms, agencies, corporate

posts - they’ve taken to the top. And given that several chiefs of

top-10 firms are said to be preparing their exit strategies, women who

have run mid-sized hi-tech or healthcare firms that were purchased by

large multinationals are clearly set to take the reins.



’They are entrepreneurial, and they are proven leaders,’ said

Thelian.



While she declined to name names, women execs such as Blanc & Otus

co-founder Maureen Blanc, Alexander Ogilvy president and CEO Pam

Alexander, Benjamin Group president Sheri Benjamin and Citigate

Cunningham chairman and CEO Andy Cunningham would appear to fit

Thelian’s definition.



Others who have risen through the agency ranks and would seem to be

ideal leadership candidates are Ogilvy president of the Americas Marcia

Silverman, Edelman/US president and COO Pam Talbot and Shandwick

International COO Mary Jeffries. Thelian added that the corporate world

is teeming with agency CEO candidates as well.



While Thelian noted that the PR profession has been slow to elevate its

top women into CEO roles, she said that it is far from the only one

where progress for women execs has been slow - only four Fortune 500

companies boast women CEOs. But despite the economic shakeup, Thelian

views dot-com companies as an ideal proving ground for women execs.



’If a woman takes the senior PR job, she has the opportunity to work

directly with the CEO, a critical experience we have been missing in the

past,’ Thelian explained.



Jack Bergen, president of the Council of PR Firms, concurred with

Thelian’s assessment, noting that hi-tech is ’a new field with new

precedents. You can see women rise to the top and be very successful.’



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