Last Friday, general manager of Hearst Australia brands ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR and COSMOPOLITAN, Marina Go, announced her resignation after more than two years in the role. In part one of B&T’s exclusive chat with Go, she shares some sage words of advice for whoever lands in her desk chair.
“This is not a last minute thing. I didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘god I’ve got to get out of here’,” Go assured me about her decision to leave Hearst to sit on the board of prestige automotive retailer Autosports Group.
“The media will never ever leave me, and I’ll never ever leave the media, but I think it’s time for me to take this opportunity with boards because it’s something I’ve been interested in for so long. You have to take opportunities when they surface because they won’t always be there. That’s always been my approach to life.”
Go said she still believes in a thriving future for Bauer Media, and particularly in the ability of the relatively new CEO Nick Chan to drive the business forward.
“Nick and I get on really well and he knows I love this place,” Go said. “I do believe that with Nick as the CEO, this business will do really well.
“It’s hard when you finally get a CEO that you think is going to take it in the right direction to make a decision to leave, but I can’t deny that this is what I wanted to do.”
I think the worst thing that could happen is if someone came in and became very conservative
Given the legacy she will be leaving behind, with iconic titles like Elle and Bazaar, Go said she hoped her successor wouldn’t be someone with conservative values.
“I think the worst thing that could happen is if someone came in and became very conservative, and everything was dumbed down and they looked for a safe option for everything. Because I just don’t think that’s the right approach for the products I have,” Go explained.
“The most important thing will be making sure the brands are protected. The competitive advantage we have are our brands. They’re the things that matter the most in my portfolio, and they’re all very strong brands.
“[My replacement] needs to understand that brand execution on every platform is really critical to make sure the messaging is consistent and that the context matters.
“The kinds of advertisers that we get, particularly with Elle and Bazaar, the context matters all the time. Every touchpoint has to be consistent. I just hope that whoever comes in fights for that, and just continues to evolve the products, because we value innovation.
“My editors have taken risks with their covers, and sometimes they’ve worked, sometimes they haven’t, but I feel like it’s really important to continue to be able to take risks.”
Go said she believes Chan is hoping to come up with a replacement for her position in the next few weeks, but that she imagines once she tendered her resignation a few hands might’ve shot up for the job, both internally and externally.
“It’s a great job and I suspect there will be people who want to do this job. But there’s been no internal speculation. Nick might have someone in mind but if he has, he hasn’t shared it with us.”
It’s hard when you finally get a CEO that you think is going to take it in the right direction to make a decision to leave
Speaking more about her time at Bauer, Go revealed her favourite magazine and best job so far.
“I’m not allowed to have a favourite, but I don’t think it’s a secret that my personal favourite has always been Elle. Even before Elle was launched in Australia, back in the early 90s, I used to buy the American and British edition.
Go added, “Editing a magazine really is the best job in the whole world.”
Check back in tomorrow for part two of our exclusive interview with Marina Go, where she reveals the mistakes that could lead to the death of magazines.