The Hefner file Featured

5:39am EDT March 23, 2005
Born: 1952, Chicago

Education: Bachelor's degrees in English and American literature, Brandeis University, graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude

First jobs: Worked at Saks Fifth Avenue; tutoring program called Upward Bound while at Brandeis

Career moves: Reporter for the Boston Phoenix; joined Playboy in 1975 working in a variety of the company's businesses before being named president in 1982; elected chairman and CEO, 1988

Boards: I've believed for a long time that CEOs of public companies shouldn't sit on more than one other public board. Right now it's Also, the Magazine Publisher's Association; Rush University Medical Center; Canyon Ranch Health Resorts; American Civil Liberties Union, advisory board; Creative Coalition; Business Committee for the Arts; Museum of Television & Radio Media Center, board of governors; Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the National Cable Television Association's Diversity Committee

Residence: Chicago

What is the greatest business lesson you've learned?

Build and use a great board.

What is the greatest business challenge you've faced, and how did you overcome it?

I suppose one answer certainly could be the financial challenges that the company was facing when I took over, but another way to come at it was how do you grow a company that is a mid-sized company in industries of giants. I think the way we've done that is through a combination of being a really good partner and finding really good partners and accessing other people's money.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?

There's probably not one person. For many years, until she passed away, (former chairman and CEO of The Post Co. and former publisher of The Washington Post) Katherine Graham. I think it was a combination of the fact that she didn't expect to take over the company, obviously was in a very small group of women running public companies at that time, did an outstanding job of balancing the quality of the editorial and the quality of the culture with its business success.