Matthew Petersen NYC Chief Executive OfficerNot satisfied to lead the largest independent content marketing firm in the United States, McMURRY/TMG CEO Matt Petersen plans to build it into nothing less than the powerhouse global thought leader in its fast-growing industry. That’s ambitious. But then, so is Matt Petersen. Under the guiding hand of an early mentor at Meredith Corp.—Matt would name his son after Wes Silk—Matt moved straight out of college to become a sales trainee at Better Homes & Gardens, then the head of its New England territory, then the New York advertising manager, at the age of 24. “I had much more experienced people reporting to me,” he remembers. What was Matt’s edge? He used his economics education and his analytical nature to take advantage of syndicated research, which the agencies he worked with appreciated. At 27, Matt was tapped to be advertising director of a new Meredith magazine, Midwest Living. “The feeling was, if you could sell Midwest Living in New York, you could sell anything,” Matt says. To New York agency types who thought the very title was an oxymoron, Matt responded by “commandeering Learjets to take them to great places in the Midwest.” Along the way, he convinced them that Midwesterners have more discretionary income than rent-strapped consumers on the coasts. By 30 he was made publisher. But it was Matt’s next move three years later that altered the course of his skyrocketing career most. Without quite anticipating how profound a change he was in for, he took over as head of Meredith Integrated Marketing. “I didn’t realize how far I was moving away from the media business,” he recalls. “I was in the agency business now. I had to embrace the agency environment and create agency practices”—all inside Meredith, a traditional media company. Over the next decade, Matt used strategic hiring and acquisitions to transform what was essentially a custom publishing house into the CRM and content powerhouse that that eventually became Meredith Xcelerated Marketing. So by the time he came as president to TMG Custom Media in 2012, he was well prepared to help the agency make a strategic leap from the steady growth path it had been on since its founding. In his first year, he steered TMG and McMurry through a merger that combined two fine companies into one great one with the scale to win in the marketplace, and the capabilities to keep on winning. There’s still a great deal more for Matt to do to take McMURRY/TMG where he thinks it can go—likely more acquisitions, aggressive hiring and staff training, all to create a “sustainable foundation that leads to strong strategic relations with clients who need our full suite of content marketing services,” as Matt puts it. Ultimately, the agency’s sustainable foundation is its people, and so Matt is ambitious for his employees, too. “I feel most fulfilled professionally,” he says, “when I see people thriving and growing and creating. I love building an environment for them to do that.” He is devoted to watching his family thrive, grow, and create, as well. When he’s not on the water with his wife and three kids—“a good family activity because they can’t escape from the boat,” he says—he finds himself coordinating various gatherings for his eight older siblings and his 21 nieces and nephews. “I’m a family guy,” he says. An ambitious one, at that. I love McMURRY/TMG because of our tremendously talented team, their unquenchable curiosity and ongoing innovation.