For more than three decades, Christie Hefner has been a part of her family's business, working as chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises with her father Hugh Hefner. Jean talks with Christie about leading the company and the importance of encouraging women to take on executive positions.
Growing up as the daughter of Hugh Hefner, Christie says Playboy magazine was a part of her life from an early age. While her parents divorced when she was young, she says the magazine was always around. "My mother was a great fan of the magazine and the journalism in the magazine, so I literally grew up reading Playboy," she says. "I am someone who can say I read it for the articles."
After college—in an attempt to spend more time with her father— Christie says she accepted his invitation to work for Playboy Enterprises. By the age of 29 she was the president of the company. "Once I got there, I just found the whole range of businesses and issues fascinating, and I love the people and their values," she says.
Christie says she has dealt with the financial ups and downs of the company not with the education of an MBA, but rather with what she calls "the self-taught MWA"—"management by walking around." She says hands-on experience and the drive to do her best are keys to her success. "I put a lot more pressure on myself than my father puts on me or even our intuitional shareholders do," she says. "I am just one of those people who demands that I always do better."
Now that the company is a global brand, Christie says her plans for the future are clear. "We have a lot of talented people, we have an extraordinary brand and it's a global brand, so the chance to go into big markets like China, India and Latin American is very exciting," she says. "On a personal level, I am going to continue being active politically."
Christie says Playboy Enterprises' politics and attitudes toward empowering women are important elements of the company. Today, 40 percent of the company's executives are women. "Companies that do a good job of taking advantage of talented women become advantaged by being more attractive to talented women," she says. "A lot of times you would rather be somewhere where you are not the only woman sitting around the table when a decision is being made."
Published on June 13, 2007