The Art & Science of Creativity

Mark J. Penn

Mark Penn is the President and Managing Partner of The Stagwell Group, a private equity fund focused on the marketing services industry. In this role, Penn directs the acquisition process and oversees the Group’s portfolio companies.

Mark Penn’s career spans 40 years in advertising, market research, public relations, polling and consulting.  He has advised top world leaders, led companies, and written two bestselling books.  

Currently, Mark serves as President and Managing Partner of private equity The Stagwell Group as well as CEO of the fund’s largest investment, MDC Partners.

As “The Place Where Great Talent Lives,” MDC Partners is celebrated for its innovative advertising, public relations, branding, digital, social and event marketing agency partners, which are responsible for some of the most memorable and effective campaigns. By leveraging technology, data analytics, insights and strategic consulting solutions, MDC Partners drives creative excellence, business growth and measurable return on marketing investment for over 1,700 clients worldwide. MDC Partners is part of Stagwell Group’s strategy to invest in digital marketing services companies.  With over $500 million raised, Stagwell has made over 20 investments in under four years, delivering what investors call, “a superior operating model.”

Prior to founding Stagwell, Mark served in senior executive positions at Microsoft. As 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.

Marks’s experience in growing, building, and managing agencies is well documented. As the co-founder and CEO of Penn Schoen Berland, a market research firm that he built and sold to communications behemoth WPP, he demonstrated value-creation in a crowded industry, serving clients with innovative techniques from being first with overnight polling to unique ad testing methods used by presidents and major corporations. At WPP, he also became CEO of Burson-Marsteller, and managed the two companies to record profit growth during that period.

A globally recognized strategist, Mark has advised corporate and political leaders, both in the United States and internationally. For six years, he served as White House Pollster to President Bill Clinton and was a senior adviser in his 1996 re-election, identifying “Soccer Moms” as the key swing vote needed for victory. The Washington Post wrote that no other pollster had ever become, “So thoroughly integrated into the policymaking operation” of a presidential administration.

Penn later served as chief strategist to Hillary Clinton in her Senate campaigns and 2008 Presidential campaign, devising her successful NY “upstate strategy” and creating the “3 AM” ad in the 2008 primaries. Internationally, he helped elect more than 25 leaders in the Asia, Latin America, and Europe, including Tony Blair and Menachem Begin.

Penn is also a well-known thought leader.  His new book “Microtrends Squared: The New Small Forces Driving the Big Disruptions Today” comes ten years after his bestseller “Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes,” and was a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Time.com, POLITICO, The Hill, and the Huffington Post. In a cover story, Time Magazine called him “Master of the Message.”

Penn earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and attended Columbia Law School. He is a visiting lecturer at Harvard College, where he teaches courses on Public Opinion.