Publisher-to-be praised

Canada's national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, is getting a new publisher who is a talent spotter, a sharp strategic thinker and an early riser in with the troops first thing in the morning, say executives who have worked with him.Paul...

Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, is getting a new publisher who is a talent spotter, a sharp strategic thinker and an early riser in with the troops first thing in the morning, say executives who have worked with him.

Paul Robertson, senior vice-president of sales and marketing at the CTV Television Network, calls David Clark a ‘very strong strategic marketer, a disciplined thinker and a very powerful leader.’

Robertson, who worked with Clark when the television vp was employed at Campbell Soup in Toronto, says Clark turned the attitude of that company around.

He says before Clark arrived nine and a half years ago, the food conglomerate was a ‘very hierarchical place.’

Clark, he says, ‘chunked up the company’ into different divisions and appointed general managers to oversee them, making their own decisions and taking responsibility for them.

Clark, polite and modest during an early morning interview – he is usually in to work at 7.30 a.m., the same time as Campbell’s plant workers – says he does not have any preconceived ideas about what he might do at the Thomson Newspapers daily.

Clark concedes he is not a traditional manager, nor does he bring with him, he says approvingly, any baggage to impede his progress.

He dismisses the notion his new job, beginning Oct. 26, is groundbreaking. Clark says he is just the latest in a line of executives who have become publishers.

He is right. Brian Segal, an academic and university administrator became publisher of Maclean’s magazine last month.

Clark points to Toronto Star Publisher David Jolley as someone who took that post without a traditional grounding in the job.

And Roy Megarry, Clark’s predecessor at the Globe, was a management accountant before getting the top spot.

Clark has been a marketing executive for a good many years, and it shows when he talks about the Globe, likening newspapers to a food product that has a short shelf-life.

Before spending nearly 10 years at Campbell, latterly as chairman, president and chief executive officer, Clark worked at Thomas J. Lipton for 10 years, leaving as president.

Dennis Stief, managing director of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising in Toronto, worked for Clark at Thomas J. Lipton and with him on the Campbell account at o&m, held by that agency since 1960.

Stief calls Clark energetic. ‘He works like hell,’ he says, adding he is a great motivator and an experimenter.

Experiments, Stief speculates, are something Clark was brought into the Globe to try.

He says Clark is also a talent spotter, citing Peter Elwood, vice-president of marketing at Lever Bros., and ctv head John Cassaday, to achievers Clark tabbed while they worked for him at Campbell.

Tom Petty, now senior vice-president and chief financial officer at ctv, was the first person Clark hired at Campbell back in 1984.

Petty says Clark came to Campbell to revamp the company, noting it had had nine presidents in 11 years before the new Globe publisher arrived.

Clark, says Petty, ‘Is very good at sizing up a situation and taking appropriate action to rectify it.’