Telling the truth about SME life today

Stevie Spring: “It’s a torrid time in media”

“It’s a torrid time in the sector,” said Spring. “But there are opportunities out there for the ‘frave’ – that’s my word for the fearful and brave.”

Spring amused the audience with the story of her journey from nerdy school kid with a passion for Latin ("I was great at exams. I had the memory of an elephant and now I have the backside to match!”) to boss of a £114m-turnover publishing firm.

Stevie spent 16 years in advertising before bagging a job as an executive at Clear Channel: “I never worked so hard to get a job in my life. I was the ‘outsider marverick’ but I got the role.” Six years later, she was fired – but it was a blessing in disguise. “I got a huge amount of coverage on exit and that threw up all kinds of weird and wonderful job offers.”

She applied for the position of chief executive of Future, a role which required three things: experience of running a plc; experience in publishing; and experience of running a US business. “I had three nos – but I got the job. The company had debts of £44m. They took a punt, they took me.”

And the bet paid off. Today, Future is £15m in the black and the largest British exporter of magazines. Spring is driving the company through one of the trickiest times in the industry, where advertising revenues have dried up and Twitter tweets the news faster than any journalist.

“The barriers to access have come crashing down,” said Spring. “Look at newspapers, for example. In a world where everyone reads the latest headlines for free online and the public can report on stories as they happen, what role is there for a daily broadsheet” None.”

Spring’s advice is to “do and learn, not learn and do.”

The Inspirational Women’s Network in partnership with Lloyds TSB, is an exclusive network of remarkable, high-potential and high-achieving UK women. For further information on the network please contact Gemma Rowley on [email protected] or 020 7368 7129.

Photographer: Rolfe Markham

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