Keynote speaker: Martha Stewart, Founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Interviewed by John Ferraro
Stewart shares her ingredients for success
According to Martha Stewart, risk-taking is a good thing. She has been an entrepreneur and risk-taker since the age of 10, when she realized she could make more money organizing birthday parties for her schoolmates than by babysitting.
From that point on it was full speed ahead to her current position as the Founder and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO), a diversified media and merchandising company that encompasses publishing, internet, broadcast media platforms and branded product lines.
In a conversation with EY Global COO John Ferraro, Stewart traced her early entrepreneurial spirit to her father’s encouragement. His message was simple: you’re smart and you can do anything.
But it has not been an easy rise to the top. She took an enormous risk in the early 1990s when she decided to end her popular magazine’s association with Time Warner after the publishing giant did not see the value of media tie-ins.
While she considers going public her greatest success, Stewart cautions fellow entrepreneurs to get the best advice possible before pursuing an IPO. Her initial advisors thought it was an unusual experience to find themselves working with a woman, which she finds odd because she considers herself a person in business, not a woman in business.
Stewart is an avid follower of technological advances, but she admits that the computer takes up much more time than she had anticipated in 1982. An early investor in Twitter, she appreciates social media’s instant outreach to customers. And she is fascinated by the development of the driverless car, which she believes has enormous potential.
Innovation has a home within Stewart’s company as well. She noticed that aluminum foil, a wonderful cooking aid for meats and poultry, was not as good as parchment for vegetables. The result: Martha Wrap, one side of which is foil, the other parchment.
Stewart says she would like to be remembered as a purveyor of knowledge that lasts and is used on a daily basis. At MSLO, everyone is always learning — they are all students, and they are all teachers. And if the response at EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ is any indication, she will succeed at this ambition as well.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Emmy Award-winning television show host, entrepreneur and best-selling author, is America’s most trusted lifestyle expert and teacher. Millions of people rely on Martha as a source of useful “how-to” information for all aspects of everyday living — cooking, entertaining, gardening, home renovating, collecting, organizing, crafting, holidays, healthy living and pets.
Her namesake company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which she founded in 1996, reaches approximately 100 million consumers across all media platforms each month with an expansive portfolio that includes award-winning magazines, best-selling books, innovative websites and apps, television and video programming, and a live daily radio show. The company also has a growing retail presence with 8,500 products in thousands of retail locations, including The Home Depot, Macy’s, Staples (together with Avery), PetSmart and Michaels.
Global Chief Operating Officer
John is responsible for the operations of EY around the world, with a focus on helping support and align our people so that they can deliver exceptional client service anywhere.
John played an integral role in EY’s global integration efforts and oversaw the creation of the EMEIA Area and the Asia-Pacific Area. In addition to his management duties, John maintains a personal commitment to client service, acting as Senior Advisory Partner to several major global clients.
John sits on the Board of the Business Council for International Understanding. He is also a member of the Kazakh Foreign Investors’ Council, as well as the Audit Committee Leadership Network, a group of audit committee chairpersons from leading global businesses. John is the Vice Chair of Marquette University’s Board of Trustees.