Margaret Heffernan
entrepreneur, chief executive and author
Connect Online with this Speaker


Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur, chief executive and author. She was born in Texas, raised in
Holland and educated at Cambridge University. She worked in 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 was one of the
producers of Out of the Doll's House, the prize-winning documentary series about the history of
women in the twentieth century. She designed and executive produced a thirteen part series on the
French Revolution for the BBC and A&E. The series featured, among others, Alan Rickman, Alfred
Molina, Janet Suzman, Simon Callow and Jim Broadbent and introduced both historian Simon
Schama and playwright Peter Barnes to British television. She also produced music videos with
Virgin Records and the London Chamber Orchestra to raise attention and funds 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 affair 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
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
2011 saw the publication of her third book, Willful Blindness (Simon&Schuster in the UK, Bloomsbury
in the US and Doubleday in Canada) which was shortlisted for the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs
Best Business Book award. She is visiting professor of entrepreneurship at Simmons College in
Boston and executive in residence at Babson College. She sits on the Council of the Royal Academy
of Dramatic Art in the UK as well as one the boards of several private companies. Heffernan blogs
for the Huffington Post in the US and the UK and for BNET. She was featured on television in The
Secret Millionaire and on BBC Radio 4 in Changing the Rules, which won the 2008 Prowess Media
Award. She has had three plays broadcast by the BBC and in 2011 has been awarded an honorary
doctorate from the University of Bath. She is married with two children.