Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur, chief executive, and author. She writes books and blogs, and teaches and mentors senior and chief executives.
She was born in Texas, raised in Holland, and educated at Cambridge University. She worked at BBC Radio for five years, where she wrote, directed, produced, and commissioned dozens of documentaries and dramas. As a television producer, she made documentary films for Timewatch, Arena, and Newsnight. She designed and executive produced a 13-part series on The French Revolution for the BBC and A&E. She also produced music videos with the London Chamber Orchestra to raise money for Unicef's Lebanese fund.
Leaving the BBC, she ran the trade association IPPA, which represented the interests of independent film and television producers and was once described by the Financial Times as "the most formidable lobbying organization in England."
In 1994, she returned to the United States, where she worked on public affairs campaigns in Massachusetts and with software companies trying to break into multimedia. She developed interactive multimedia products with Peter Lynch, Tom Peters, Standard & Poors, and The Learning Company. She then joined CMGI where she ran, bought, and sold leading Internet businesses, serving as chief executive officer for InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation, and iCAST Corporation. She was named one of the Internet's Top 100 by Silicon Alley Reporter in 1999, one of the Top 25 by Streaming Media magazine and one of the Top 100 Media Executives by The Hollywood Reporter. Her "Tear Down the Wall" campaign against AOL won the 2001 Silver SABRE Award for public relations.
Heffernan has published three books. The Naked Truth: A Working Woman’s Manifesto (Wiley 2004) is about women’s careers. Women on Top: How Female Entrepreneurs are Changing the Rules for Business Success (Penguin 2007) charts the rise of female entrepreneurs. Her most recent book was shortlisted for the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Best Business Book of the Year Award; entitled Willful Blindness (Simon & Schuster 2011), it examines why we ignore the obvious in our personal and professional lives. All of these works explore why and how companies packed full of talented, motivated, and committed executives fail to spot major problems or to capture the full intellectual innovative capacity of their people. Her new book, A Bigger Prize (Simon & Schuster 2014), looks at what it takes for individuals and organizations to be truly creative and collaborative—where the barriers to achievement lie and how to overcome them.
Heffernan was featured on BBC Radio 4 in “Changing the Rules,” which won the 2008 Prowess Media Award. She devised and led a program for female entrepreneurs at Simmons College, one of the few all-female business schools in the United States. She continues to advise global businesses on effective global strategies and to support women’s networks and industry associations involved in diversity and inclusion. She teaches at the School of Management at the University of Bath and has been invited to speak at business schools around the world, including Harvard Business School, the Rotman School, London Business School, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. She also lectures widely at organizations as diverse as the Federal Bank of the United States, Accenture, Roche, KLA-Tencor, and Procter & Gamble.