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Conde Nast: Mary Berner Out

Posted by: Jon Fine on January 4, 2006

Mary Berner, former CEO of Conde Nast’s Fairchild unit and current Group President of Conde Nast’s Fairchild division, is leaving the company at the end of this month.

Ms. Berner, fiercely smart and fiercely ambitious, had been layered in a company reorganization four months ago. After having spent five years as a CEO reporting to company patriarch Si Newhouse, she became a group president reporting to Charles H. Townsend, CEO of Conde Nast Publications.

Friends and colleagues say this didn’t sit well with Ms. Berner, who didn’t immediately return a call placed to her cell phone. At least one insider suggested her next moves are pretty much mapped out.

Bigger corporate story: The Fairchild division of the nation’s second-largest magazine company is finished. All its mags are now scattered elsewhere: Jane, Details and Cookie will report to Townsend; everything else—W, a bridal division, and a constellation of trade titles—goes to Mitch Fox, another Conde Nast Group President.

The news is somewhat surprising given Berner’s successes at the company. Under her tenure which began in 1999, Fairchild grew into a significantly larger company with a much bigger consumer magazine presence—its consumer magazines increased from two to seven. Berner also succesfully relaunched the men’s magazine, Details, a task that Conde Nast repeatedly muffed.

Two recent Fairchild launches, shopping titles Vitals Man and Vitals Woman, were recently shuttered.

Full Disclosure: I was part of a small team at Advertising Age that named her Publishing Executive of the Year in 2004.

Reader Comments

J. Barletta

January 12, 2006 12:03 PM

I have worked with higher executives in media over many years at companies including Tribune Company, Dow Jones, News Corp, New York Times Co. etc.

Simply put--Mary Berner is one of the most competent, most capable executives I have known. My list of the top 10 (which starts with Rupert Murdoch) would easily include her.

Proof of her uniqueness is the very personal dismay currently in evidence among her former Fairchild colleagues. Conde Nast blew it big time.

eileen cross

January 13, 2006 7:04 PM

Mary Berner is of the smartest and most capable CEOs with whom I have worked.

She is assertive and tough--never aggressive. Looks out for the greater good-- company financial success and people success.

Her leadership ability and style makes great things happen for the company. Definitely in the top 10 (if not 5) of "stellar" executives.

John Moriarty

May 12, 2006 5:04 PM

What do you mean one of the top 5 executives, she's number one. Her spirit is just to big to be ristricted to such limits as condenas has given her. She made the right descision, and is now searchig for a job that will let her be the "Chief" not the Indian.

- her son, John

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