John Sargent is the Executive Vice President of the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group and CEO of Macmillan. A vocal advocate for the importance of book publishing in the United States and around the world, he is responsible for the Macmillan higher education business as well as managing the global trade-book business.
His career contributions were recognized with the 2017 PEN Publisher Honoree Award, given “for his fierce advocacy for the right to publish and for serving as a defender of publishers’ and authors’ intellectual property rights.” After receiving the award, John spoke directly about the importance of defending free speech. His remarks closed with a call for continuing to do what publishers do best, especially when doing so is difficult: “I hope we will apply the principles of the First Amendment and have the courage to resist the great power of polarized opinion.”
John has not shied away from taking hard business positions. In 2012, he maintained Macmillan’s innocence in the face of Department of Justice claims of collusion in the implementation of the agency model for e-book pricing, refusing to settle even after several other publishers had agreed to terms offered by the DOJ. Agency pricing itself, proposed in 2010, was part of an effort to create what John called “a level playing field” for sales of digital books in the United States.
Before his current roles, John ran the US operations of Holtzbrinck, including all the US trade companies, the Macmillan Higher Education group, St. Martins Scholarly and Reference, Hanley & Belfus medical publishers and Scientific American. He started at Holtzbrinck as CEO of St. Martin’s Press. John has also served as CEO of Dorling Kindersley Inc. and the President of the Children’s Book Division of Simon & Schuster.
John is the longest-serving officer of the Association of American Publishers, for whom he has spent considerable time and energy lobbying for the publishing industry. He has also served on the executive committee of Graham Windham, a New York foster care agency for over 25 years including four years as its Chairman.
John received a B.A. in Economics from Stanford and an M.B.A. in Finance from Columbia.
Brian O'Leary (MBA '83) is the Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), a trade association that conducts research, promotes standards and best practices, and shares information about the book industry. An Advisor to Quantum Media and Founder of Magellan Media Consulting, O'Leary joined BISG after consulting for nearly two decades with a wide range of book, magazine, and association publishers. In those assignments, O'Leary provided targeted solutions that helped clients manage change, improve financial results, and respond with agility to consumers' voracious appetites for content. Little-known fact: his undergraduate degree is in chemistry.
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