A LITTLE TOO LATE: In September, Laura Lang will formally leave her position as chief executive officer of Time Inc. Later in the month, she will be addressing a panel on leadership.
Lang lasted at Time Inc. for a little more than a year and a half, though she was widely seen as a lame duck as early as February after a leak revealed the company’s parent, Time Warner, was exploring a partial merger of Time Inc. with Meredith Corp. At the time, she canceled several public appearances, including a talk at the Paley Center. The talks with Meredith broke down, and Time Warner eventually decided to spin off the publishing unit into a separately listed company. It then began a long search for a new ceo for Time Inc.
This story first appeared in the August 30, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
But a few weeks after her successor Joe Ripp officially, if not in practice, takes over as Time Inc.’s new ceo, Lang will address a women’s conference on the subject of “authenticity in leadership” as part of a panel where she’ll be joined by New York mayoral candidate Christine Quinn and Carolyn Everson, a marketing vice president at Facebook. Dee Poku, the founder of the conference, called Women, Inspiration and Enterprise, said she had not yet discussed with Lang if she’ll address lessons learned during her sometimes rocky tenure at the publisher.
Instead, the subject of Lang’s panel is female empowerment. “The panel teaches you don’t have to change who you are to be successful. You have to play to your strengths,” Poku said. Additionally, “There’s an idea at the moment that so-called feminine traits are more important in business today. That’s what the female advantage is. Knowing that what you are as a woman is all you need to be.” Poku said she reached out to Lang after she’d already made it clear she was not staying on as ceo, but while she was still holding the title. Lang is still listed as ceo in the conference’s materials.
“But she can still bring her experience as ceo to the conversation,” Poku clarified. “The key is she became ceo of a major corporation, and when you look at statistics, the numbers are very small.”
The conference founder is disappointed at Time’s choice of a successor. “I think that’s a real a shame. There are so few women in these positions. We’re losing a role model for the generation coming up,” she said. Martha Nelson, meanwhile, remains Time Inc.’s editor in chief, the seventh person and first woman to hold the title.