EL SEGUNDO, CA – Mattel, the company behind such iconic toys as Barbie, Hot Wheels, and the Fisher-Price brand, has a new chief executive officer, Margaret “Margo” Georgiadis. The former Google Americas President is the second executive to be appointed Mattel’s CEO since early 2015.
For six years, Georgiadis led Google’s commercial operations and ad sales in the US, Canada and Latin America. She took over the CEO position at Mattel on February 8 and also joined the board of directors. Georgiadis follows Christopher A. Sinclair, the long-time board member who led the toy maker since early 2015.
Besides her executive position at Google, Georgiadis has also served as COO of daily deals e-commerce website Groupon and as chief marketing officer at Discover Financial Services, as reported in Fortune. She is also a board member for McDonald’s and renewable products maker Amyris.
“Inspiring children through play and creativity is crucial to early development and no company has done more in that space over many generations than Mattel,” Georgiadis said in a statement, as quoted in Fortune. “As a parent, I have seen this first hand and am honored to be joining the Company at this exciting time of renewed focus.”
Mattel is currently in a relatively stable position as Georgiadis takes over as CEO. Sales are improving for the company’s core brands including Barbie with innovations started during Sinclair’s tenure received well by the toy-buying. The major makeover for the doll with new body types, hair styles, and shades of skin added for more diversity to the standard slender Barbie was especially appreciated by consumers after decades of complaints about Barbie’s unrealistic body proportions.
Technology was also added in more appropriate ways to Mattel toys through Sinclair’s work with tech startups after internal efforts achieved only middling results. Sinclair also tried to update the speed of the company’s decision-making process to keep up with the pace of the times.
Formerly a PepsiCo executive, Sinclair arrived at Mattel during a time when sales and the company’s stock price were declining. Core brands including Barbie seemed lagging behind in terms of innovation, so vital in the competitive toy business. Sinclair succeeded Bryan Stockton, who resigned after a few years of struggling with the iconic toy maker’s troubles.
In a Mattel news release Sinclair said of Georgiadis’ appointment, “Over the last two years, with the help of all of our colleagues around the world, we have dramatically transformed Mattel – reenergizing our creative culture, restoring excitement to our iconic brand portfolio and delivering on our vision to make Mattel the recognized leader in play, learning and development worldwide.
I could not be more proud of the organization and what it has accomplished, or more excited about the Company’s future with Margo Georgiadis as our CEO. Margo is a proven and extraordinarily talented executive with a deep understanding of how to build and scale brands on a global basis and expertise in effectively engaging consumers and retail partners in a rapidly evolving digital world. She has successfully led efforts to deliver above market growth and profitability by creating transformational partnerships across content, media and technology providers and through innovation in product development and customer engagement.”
Sinclair added, “As Executive Chairman, I will work with Margo, Richard Dickson, and the rest of the executive team on the smoothest possible transition.”
Continuing to boost sales of Mattel brands including Barbie, Hot Wheels, and American Girl will be Georgiadis top priority. The challenge may grow increasingly difficult as youngsters play more on mobile devices, tablets, iPads, and cell phones. Other toy makers including Hasbro and Lego also face the challenge of adding technology to their toys while still encouraging traditional ways of playing. Speculation on mergers and acquisitions is also rife for the major toy makers with some suggesting that potential merger talks may be going on between Mattel and Hasbro.
Mattel’s appointment of Georgiadis adds another woman executive to the list of only 27 female executives that run Fortune 500 companies. According to the latest Fortune 500 list, Mattel is ranked #450. Georgiadis becomes the second woman CEO at Mattel. Jill Barad was the first woman to run the toy company for short time in the late 1990’s until she was removed after the widely unpopular $3.5 billion acquisition of software company Learning Co. Georgiadis earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges and an MBA from Harvard Business Scho