Marjorie Scardino

CEO -- Pearson -- Britain

In the fall of 1996, Pearson PLC was a struggling company with some great assets but little focus. Its stock had been pounded by City of London investors impatient with Pearson's frequent earnings surprises and grab bag of holdings. Looking for a break from the past, the board offered the top job to Marjorie Scardino, a little-known American who was then running the Economist Group, which is 50% owned but not managed by Pearson. Although concerned about the glare of publicity that comes from running a big media company, she accepted the challenge.

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