Taking Care with Capital Allocation

Interpublic treasurer Ellen Johnson played a big role in the company’s efforts to regain investment-grade status.

Ellen Johnson, treasurer and senior vice president at the Interpublic Group of Companies, always keeps the end goal in sight.

Since her early 20s, when she left public accounting to begin a career in corporate finance, Johnson has methodically built up her resume. From the 24-year-old who didn’t yet have an M.B.A., but nonetheless talked Revlon Corp. into giving her the chance to work in financial planning and analysis, to stints as assistant treasurer, to her current position at Interpublic, Johnson has asked for and received more responsibility.

To accomplish the turnaround, Johnson made some bold decisions, including selling half of Interpublic’s stake in Facebook last year for $133 million and increasing the corporate credit facility to $1 billion, from $650 million, while extending it by five years.

“We also got our house in order,” Johnson says, “We put in place very good processes—accounting, internal control—and really just buttoned down our processes.”

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