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Mark Penn is the President and Managing Partner of The Stagwell Group, a private equity fund focused on the marketing services industry. In this role, Penn directs the acquisition process and oversees the Group’s portfolio companies.
Penn has been in research, advertising, public relations, polling and consulting for nearly 40 years. Before founding The Stagwell Group, he served in senior executive positions at Microsoft where as Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, he was responsible for working on core strategic issues across Microsoft’s products, value propositions and investments and leading the company’s competitive research and analysis.
Penn’s experience in growing, building and managing agencies is well-documented. As the co-founder and CEO of Penn Schoen Berland, a global market research firm that he built and sold to WPP, he demonstrated value creation in a crowded industry serving clients with innovative techniques from being first with overnight polling to pioneering unique ad testing methods used by Presidents and Fortune 100 corporations. At WPP, he also became CEO of Burson-Marsteller, and managed the two companies to record profit growth during that period.
He is also known as the strategist for and creator of well-known campaigns and ads, helping reelect President Bill Clinton and his move to the political center, devising then Senator Hillary Clinton’s successful “Upstate strategy,” creating Tony Blair’s “Forward not Back” campaign in 2005 and the “3AM” ad in the 2008 Presidential primaries, and led the team on Microsoft’s hugely successful 2014 Super Bowl ad when he headed advertising there.
Penn has been a senior adviser to global corporate and political leaders including Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, Bill Ford, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Bill Clinton. He has helped elect over 25 heads of state around the world.
Penn is also a globally recognized thought leader. He authored the Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling book “Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes”; and was a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Time.com, POLITICO, and The Huffington Post. In a cover story, Time Magazine called him “Master of the Message.”
Penn earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and attended Columbia Law School. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Holocaust Museum’s Committee on Conscience, and serves on the board of Meridian International Center. Penn is also a Visiting Lecturer at Harvard College and a Professorial Lecturer at George Washington University.