Penton Media Names Sharon Rowlands CEO

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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New York, NY – Penton Media, Inc. named Sharon Rowlands, former president and CEO of Thomson Financial, as its new CEO effective November 1.

Rowlands will replace John French, who announced in July he would step down when a new CEO was hired. She will also take a seat on the Penton Board of Directors.

“We are thrilled that Sharon has chosen to join Penton, completing our plans to assemble a best-in-class management team to move the company forward,” said Tyler Zachem, co-chairman of Penton Media, Inc. “Sharon is an acknowledged leader in the media industry with unparalleled experience in transforming business information assets into leading franchises.”

Penton is the largest independent B-to-B media company in the United States. It has a portfolio of 150 trade shows and conferences plus 113 trade magazines and a large number of websites and other digital products.

Rowlands said she was looking forward to leveraging Penton’s assets into further growth in the business information industry. “I’m very excited,” she told Trade Show Executive. “Business-to-business is a very exciting area and I think the next few years are going to be very interesting.”

The first order of business will be examining the needs of the customers in Penton’s 30 vertical markets and seeing how the company’s assets match up with them. “We can then mix and match the right set of solutions for the customers,” Rowland said, adding that there could be “gaps” that might be filled through acquisitions, although it was too early to tell.

Nevertheless, Rowlands said she was someone who was convinced of the value of face-to-face contact with customers and expected it to grow in importance. “Penton’s customers want to know who their customers and target audiences are,” she said. “So, if you can create an opportunity for them to interact in a ‘live’ environment where the right communities are together, then it can be incredibly valuable.”

The British-born Rowlands was president and CEO of Thomson Financial from 2005 until earlier this year and had been in the company’s senior executive ranks since 1996. Penton said she guided Thomson’s transformation into a global financial information and technology leader.

Rowlands said Penton was not entirely unfamiliar country to her. “At Thomson Financial, I was in this huge vertical called ‘business services,’” she said. “And a big part of Thomson’s strategy was, ‘How can we create the best venue for the buy side and the sell side to connect?’”

Reach Sharon Rowlands at (212) 204-4200 or sharon.rowlands@penton.com