Nancy Becker, President, UCG, Gaithersburg, Md.
(Editor’s note: SIPA congratulates Nancy for being named president of UCG on April 25.)
What was your first job out of college and how did you get into this business?
Working as a reporter/analyst for a newsletter called Petroleum Purchasing Reports which tracked large public (government, school districts, municipalities, etc…) purchases of petroleum. It was 1982, and unemployment was 11% and interest rates were 13% so I was lucky to find a job. When the investors in the newsletter pulled the plug, the owners knew UCG was in the business of publishing oil pricing newsletters, and they gave it to Bruce [Levenson] and Ed [Peskowitz]. I came along with the newsletter.
Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road.
I was the 13th employee at UCG when I joined in their 5th year. I quickly seized some opportunities to grow other aspects of our fast-growing company, and when Bruce and Ed recognized my contributions with making me a partner, I knew UCG was the right place for me to continue my career.
In brief, describe your business/company?
UCG is a portfolio of companies focused on serving niche B-to-B audiences with highly valuable content delivered in the media that makes best sense for the user. Today we have seven unique companies that run autonomously and have their own culture, yet they all embrace UCG’s core values of: “It’s all about people,” “opportunistic and nimble,” “calculated risk-taking,” “customer-obsessive,” “personal responsibility,” “fighting to win” and “passion for excellence.”
What are two or three important concepts or rules that have helped you to succeed in business?
Focus on the customer. Keep it simple. Remember what it’s like to be an employee.
What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing now?
Continuing to innovate to remain highly relevant to our audiences with our content and solutions.
Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2011?
A transition to a more product-management structure from a traditional publishing structure. This means the focus is on the subject area rather than the product, allowing us to better develop and repurpose our valuable content in a myriad of ways—through Apps, conferences, periodicals, databases, etc… to meet the ever-changing needs of the audiences we serve.
What are the key benefits of SIPA membership for you and your team?
1) a venue to get further training on editorial, marketing and new trends in publishing;
2) a network to meet and attract potential acquisitions and new hires;
3) industry recognition through the editorial and marketing contests for our high quality of work.
Where did you grow up?
Born in Washington, D.C., and lived in New Carrollton, Md., until 11 years old. Lived in Ankara, Turkey, from 12 until 15 years old. Moved to Columbia, Md., for high school.
What college did you attend?
Rider University, Lawrenceville, N.J.
Is there a moment from that time that stands out?
In spring of 1982, I led our model U.N. team—we were Sweden—to a second place against mostly Ivy-League teams. It was the peak of the Cold War, and every nation was nervous about nuclear war starting between the Soviets/Warsaw Pact and the U.S./NATO countries. The world was very polarized. Sweden was a neutral country, and I was able to negotiate an agreement between the two blocs. I realized from that experience that looking for common ground and building trust were critical to successfully working with others. This lesson has helped me enormously in my career.
Are you married?
Yes, 21 years.
Do you have children?
Yes, a 17 year-old daughter and a 16 year-old son.
What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?
I love to horseback ride. When I lived in Turkey as a teen, the American base had a stable that was on land shared with the Turkish Cavalry. I was taught to ride English by a Cavalry man who we were terrified to disappoint, so we followed all his orders. I was lucky to be able to ride every day with my friends—sometimes twice a day. We raced and showed competitively a couple of times a year in front of the Cavalry. When I returned to the States, I gave up riding since none of my new friends were interested in it, and it was very expensive and not convenient with my schedule. I took riding back up 10 years ago when my daughter got interested in it. I ride about 3 times a week on average—mostly trail riding in rural Montgomery County, Md. Horses are a wonderful reminder about how important animals and our environment are in this world. I feel very blessed to have them in my life.
Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?
“The Big Short” by Michael Lewis—eye-opening insight into what really happened when Lehman and Bear Sterns imploded. The documentary “Tapped”—it makes you stop and think about drinking another bottle of water.
Everything that Nancy values about SIPA—
networking, training, trends and industry recognition—
will be on display at SIPA 2011, June 5-7
at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.
Join your colleagues at this prestigious event!
The early-bird price deadline is this Friday, May 13!
Register now and save!
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