Jessica Sibley Hire at BusinessWeek: The Story Behind the Story

McGraw-Hill went through a fairly long and exhaustive process to hire the new president of BusinessWeek. After four or five months, they settled on Keith Fox, the internal candidate (under their noses, you might say), who had been president of McGraw-Hill publishing, the book division, though he did have experience at BW as SVP of marketing before he moved to books.

Then Geoff Dodge left, leaving a gaping hole at the publisher position. We all know that, announced last week, Jessica Sibley took over the now-much-expanded position. But how did she get there?

After spending a lot of time and money looking for Fox, who was literally under their noses, MH execs embarked on a second, long search. Three months later (early December), there were still no strong candidates. Fox, who realized the import of the hire, had also been looking around on his own. So he called Ed Koller, president of The Howard, Sloan, Koller Group, executive search consultants to the media industry.

Koller has been in the business for 32 years. Not every single search has gone smoothly, but this one was as easy as can be.

“Within a week after Keith called me, I had him meet Jessica Sibley,” says Koller. “I knew what he was looking for because he’s a person of high integrity who only wants the best talent. He’s very selective.”

Soon after that first meeting, Koller contacted Sibley with the opportunity. After a whirlwind two weeks of 12 interviews with key players, the only thing standing in the way of Sibley’s hire was the approval of David Murphy (head of HR for MH) and that of Terry McGraw. Two weeks into January, after more interviews, those approvals came, and the rest is history.

“In my case, it’s knowing who to send—no wasting time. After 32 years of experience, I know how to do it perfectly,” says Koller.


Koller Hot Streak

Two other recent high-profile placements of Koller’s were Paul Turcotte as SVP of ad sales at Sirius Satellite Radio (came from Hachette), and Justin Smith as president of consumer media at The Atlantic Media Company (came from The Week…my magazine of ‘the week’).

“For the high level searches that I handle myself, I usually know pretty quickly who the right people are. Because we only stick to our knitting here. We’re so focused on what we do,” says Koller.


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