Landing a job as publisher: a 10-year sprint to the top
``If I could invent my day,'' says Anne Sutherland Fuchs, ``and create whatever I wanted to do -- I'm doing it. Since the Woman's Day announcement, I wake up at the crack of dawn because I'm so excited.'' The announcement she is referring to came in late January, when Ms. Sutherland was named publisher of Woman's Day magazine -- the first woman to hold this top position on one of the country's major publications.Skip to next paragraph
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That's right, the first. Not the first woman editor -- this key post has been filled by such well-known females as the late Betsy Blackwell of Mademoiselle, Helen Gurley Brown of Cosmopolitan, and Woman's Day's own Ellen R. Levine. While the editor is in charge of editorial content, the publisher of a magazine is responsible for its business management, for profit and loss -- in Ms. Sutherland's words, for ``the bottom line.''
At her desk between two walls of windows in her corner office high above Times Square, Ms. Sutherland looks sleek, attractive, and relaxed -- more like someone who has been managing magazines for years than like a ``new kid on the block.'' She fairly glows with confidence and enthusiasm for her new job.
``What's very nice about having a P&L [profit and loss] responsibility -- and this is my fifth P&L responsibility -- is that I get a grade every month. There's no argument about how I do. I get a grade so people know what I've done. My performance can be measured.''
Ms. Sutherland's ``grade'' in her new job will take the form of a magazine that is bought by 7 million American women 17 times a year -- a statistic of which she is very proud. Since Woman's Day has very few actual subscribers, 17 times a year women must make the decision to purchase it. The fact that 7 million do so with consistency, she feels, testifies to the quality of the product she is responsible for.
``I very much like the thrill of seeing somebody and knowing that this magazine goes into their home,'' she says, ``that they spend so much time with it, and that we're helping them in their lives.''
Perhaps even more unusual than the gender factor is the speed with which Ms. Sutherland has risen to the top in a very competitive field. Her entire professional life, in fact, spans slightly more than 10 years since her first job with Hertz Rent-A-Car in 1974.
Born in Brazil to an English mother and an American father, Ms. Sutherland grew up in Chicago and attended New York University. ``I assumed that I would be married and have a family,'' she says, ``and I didn't really think about a career.'' Then, after she was married, ``I was a housewife with a pretty glamorous life -- living in different places in the world, entertaining, and making a lot of hors d'oeuvres.''
When that part of her life came to an end, Ms. Sutherland moved to New York and started looking for work. Her visible ammunition for storming the job market? A degree in French literature, an interest in art history, and some experience as a docent at the Chicago Art Institute.
``I answered an ad in the New York Times to be an art gallery director,'' she recalls with some amusement. ``I went to the personnel agency and they said, `No, no, no. You're perfect for Hertz Rent-A-Car.' I said, `Great. . . .' So I went to work for Hertz in the car-leasing division.
``This was not long-range planning, and yet they couldn't have invented a better way to gain exposure to every kind of industry imaginable, and always at very high levels, because what we sold was car-leasing plans to corporations. I started as an assistant, went into sales very quickly, and then became the top person in the country, and the only woman in the industry. I was quite visible.''
How did she adjust to the radical switch from domestic to business responsibilities?
``After three years in solving some personal dilemmas, I realized, `This isn't so bad. Maybe I want to work for a living.' And I was surprised how well I was doing. It was survival, and my Midwestern work ethic. And that sense of survival has never stopped. It began workaholic tendencies that have kept on.''
Having decided that a career was what she wanted, and that publishing was her chosen field (``I'm a reader, not a viewer,'' she explains), Ms. Sutherland moved to the New York Times in 1977 as manager of the paper's national food department.
``Having been such a star at Hertz, I didn't realize what I didn't know,'' she recalls. ``I didn't know anything about advertising, but I did know sales.''