Mark J. Penn is the Chairman and CEO of Stagwell Inc., a Nasdaq company, with over 13,000 employees and over $2 billion of annual revenue.
Penn’s career spans 40 years in market research, advertising, public relations, polling, and consulting. He has advised top world leaders including presidents, led companies, and written two bestselling books.
In 2021, Penn spearheaded the combination of digital-services leader The Stagwell Group, and global creative network MDC Partners creating Stagwell Inc, a top 10 global marketing services firm that brings together the top award-winning creatives in the world with the best in connected technologies to transform marketing.
Beginning in 2019, Penn served as the largest investor and CEO of MDC Partners, Inc. conducting a turn-around from its difficult position when he was hired while reigning in expenses and re-orienting the company to successfully navigate the pandemic.
Prior to founding Stagwell, Penn served in senior executive positions at Microsoft; as Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, he served on the company’s 12-member Senior Leadership Team managing a $2 billion advertising budget and later overall strategy for the world’s largest company.
Penn’s experience in growing, building, and managing companies is well-documented. As the co-founder and CEO of Penn Schoen Berland – a market research firm that he built and sold to WPP – he built up a company from a start-up with two people into a high-tech market-research powerhouse. He is credited with developing several unique ad and polling methods used by presidents and major corporations and was first to implement overnight polling. At WPP, he also became CEO of Burson-Marsteller, one of the world’s largest public relations companies with over 70 offices.
For six years, Penn served as White House Pollster to President Bill Clinton and was chief strategist of his 1996 re-election campaign and developed the concept behind “Soccer Moms.” Penn later served as chief strategist to Hillary Clinton throughout her Senate campaigns and 2008 presidential bid. He was the author of Clinton’s successful New York “Upstate strategy” and the impactful “3 AM” ad in the 2008 primaries.
A globally recognized strategist, Penn has advised corporate and political leaders worldwide, advising leaders in Israel, Thailand and throughout Latin America with a client base that ranged from Menachim Begin to Tony Blair. He has also managed presidential campaigns in Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia.
Penn is a well-known thought leader. Dubbed “The Master of the Message” by Time Magazine, Penn is the author of two best-selling marketing insights books, “Microtrends: The Small Forces Driving the Big Disruptions Today” and “Microtrends Squared: Small Forces Driving Today’s Big Disruptions.” His writing appears in Fox Business, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, POLITICO, The Hill, and the Huffington Post.