Mark Penn is Chairman and CEO of MDC Partners, the progressive marketing and communications network that champions innovative entrepreneurial talent.
Penn’s career spans 40 years in market-research, advertising, public relations, polling and political consulting, and he has advised top world political and corporate leaders. Prior to founding The Stagwell Group, a private equity fund focused on the marketing services industry, Penn served in senior executive positions at Microsoft. As Microsoft’s Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, he was responsible for working on core strategic issues across the company, blending data-analytics with creativity to help set the company on a new course, and overseeing all advertising. This included managing and devising the famous Scroogled campaign on internet privacy and running the company’s hugely successful 2014 Super Bowl ad.
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 by serving clients with innovative techniques, from being first with overnight polling to pioneering unique ad testing methods used by both Presidents and Fortune 100 corporations. At WPP, Penn also became CEO of Burson-Marsteller, and managed the two companies to record profit growth during that period.
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, and he has helped elect over 25 heads of state around the world. Known as a strategist for and creator of well-known campaigns and ads, Penn oversaw President Bill Clinton’s reelection campaign and his move to the political center, devised then Senator Hillary Clinton’s successful “Upstate strategy,” created Tony Blair’s “Forward not Back” campaign in 2005 and led the “3AM” ad in the 2008 Presidential primaries.
A globally recognized thought leader, Penn authored The Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling book “Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes;” and has been a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Time, POLITICO, and The Huffington Post. In a cover story, Time Magazine called him “Master of the Message.”
Penn earned a bachelor’s degree with honors 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 he 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.