Linda Zecher

Linda Zecher

Today’s guest post is from Judith Bowman’s Fabulous Woman series, which profiles top tier, truly exemplary women business leaders who share their personal stores and advice. In this installment, she talks with Linda Zecher, the first female president and CEO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Linda Zecher is the first female president and CEO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the nation’s most trusted brand in publishing and largest textbook publisher for children. The publishing chief is an accomplished equestrian who has owned 12 horses (and foals) and enjoys fox hunting and jumper riding. She is a culinary master, a married mother of one son and two stepchildren, and grandmother to six.

Her company employs 4,200 people worldwide and 700 at its corporate headquarters in the Back Bay.

Zecher, whose background is outside the publishing world, is rethinking publishing and the creation of content that children have been using in brick and mortar schools for 180 years. More, she’s planning a new direction; “we can take that understanding and now create products for the home,” she said. She is leading rivals in the expansion of the consumer/education markets and the switch to digital formats.

Attitude: “I am a positive person and believe there is nothing I can’t do. I am a little bit of a risk-taker. My attitude is: stay positive, focus on things you believe you can add the most value to, jump in with both feet and figure it out… you can accomplish anything when you just set your mind to it.“

Confidence: Zecher spent eight years as head of global sales and marketing in technology at Microsoft, PeopleSoft and Texas Instruments and says, “when I took over this job I really didn’t know anything about this industry … but I think I am a bright person and like to take on challenges. I have a lot of confidence and also rely on my team to help me set the vision and support our goals.”

Mentor: “My grandmother was a “Rosie the Riveter” during World War II and started one of the first unions in a steel mill. She was a tough, self-directed, very interesting well-rounded woman, amazing for her time. She was politically active and an avid horse person. She got me involved in horse racing, horse riding and, she was an incredible cook … she was a great influence.” Although she doesn’t have horses now because she lives in Boston, she has taken her 5 year old granddaughter riding and says, “I am trying to instill the same values and do the same things my grandmother did with me, so we’ll see how that goes.”


This is a condensed version of Bowman’s interview with Linda Zecher. To read the entire interview, click here.


Judith Bowman is founder and president of Protocol Consultants International, a Scituate-based business protocol consulting firm.

Guest Post: Fabulous Women – Linda Zecher

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 2 min