Mona Goldstein, one of Canada’s most beloved marketing leaders, has passed away after a brief battle with cancer.
Known among friends and colleagues as a thoughtful person and class act, Goldstein was a 22-year veteran of direct marketing shop Wunderman. She got her start as a media secretary at Wunderman International in Montreal in 1976 and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming managing director and then president in the early ’80s. Company headquarters relocated to Toronto in 1989 and Goldstein led Wunderman Cato Johnson (as it was then known) until 1998. Since then, she had been at the helm of her consulting firm, The Goldstein Group.
“She was an inspiration,” said Trish Wheaton, who took over from Goldstein as president of Wunderman Canada and is now managing partner, global new business community at Y&R Advertising in New York. “It was not only about learning how to do a certain kind of marketing, but it was learning a way of doing a business that was informed by integrity and fair play and success.”
Goldstein’s thoughtful, detail-oriented leadership led Wunderman to its success, said Marilyn Stewart, former president of OgilvyOne and Goldstein’s long-time friend. “She was dedicated to direct marketing and really built the reputation of Wunderman as a great direct marketing agency.”
Goldstein was a champion of the marketing industry and served as chair of the Canadian Marketing Association’s board of directors from 1989 to 1991. She also chaired the association’s ethics and privacy committee for many years, leading to the creation of the CMA’s first privacy code. “She was a step ahead and led us into a very progressive stance on privacy that has stood us in great stead for many years,” said John Gustavson, president and CEO of the CMA.
Goldstein is fondly remembered as a mentor to countless people in the marketing industry. “She gave so many people their start,” said Susan Oliver, who was hired by Goldstein in the ’90s. “There’s a very broad network of people who now work throughout the industry and had the privilege of her leadership and her example to model themselves [after].”
People turned to Goldstein because they could trust her to say the right thing, do the right thing and guide them into making the right decision, said Fransi Weinstein, former president and chief creative officer at Tattoo Direct + Digital, who worked with Goldstein when she was a consultant.
“She was probably one of the most ethical people I’ve ever met and you don’t find that often in our industry,” said Weinstein. “She never would have done anything that was absolutely not ethical, honest, transparent and straightforward. And to be as successful as she was and to maintain that standard is really kind of special.”
Oliver said Goldstein’s graciousness and thoughtfulness was evident during their first meeting and continued through all the years she knew her. “When Mona left Wunderman, she had a party for the management team at her home,” recalled Oliver. “At the end of it, she gave everybody a gift that had been individually chosen for the person based on her knowledge of their interests and what was going on in their lives… She took the time and care to pick out that thoughtful gift for each person, which was reflective of the kind of person she was.”
Julie Rusciolelli, president of Maverick Public Relations, met Goldstein in the 1990s when she worked at Cohn & Wolfe, which, like Wunderman, was under the Y&R umbrella. They remained close associates over the years. “She always had this quiet disposition and whenever she said something, everybody listened and you took notes,” said Rusciolelli. “I think she had more class in her pinky finger than most agency people do.”
People in the industry saw Goldstein as the North Star, said Wheaton. “She will be really, really missed by so very many people,” she said. “And I would say for everybody who ever had the chance to work with her, thank you, Mona, for everything.”