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Profile: Joe Bernardo

Profile: Joe Bernardo

JOE BERNARDO
Bachelor of Science-Business Administration, 1974
President and Chief Executive Officer, Cision North America
Chicago

On the Lookout | A Catholic education, with its emphasis on service to others, formed the foundation for Bernardo’s career. Now the 56-year-old president and chief executive officer of Cision North America is looking at the next phase of his life. “I can see myself doing two or three days a week of charity. I’m not sure what it is yet, but life has been darned good, and I’m going to look for something to give back.”

Constant Connection | The Chicago native attended Fenwick, a Catholic prep school, graduated from Xavier and then earned an MBA from Loyola University in Chicago. “My entire education has been a Catholic education, and the theme of giving back has been a connection since Day One. Whether it was the Dominicans or the Jesuits, that theme has always been brought home.”

Well Traveled | After Xavier, Bernardo worked a couple of years selling computer systems for Burroughs Corp. and then began a fascinating 11-year stint with Official Airlines Guides. “It was a fantastic company and a very, very lucrative business,” he says. “We were putting out a directory of airline schedules and fares. I had responsibilities for airlines all over the world and did all sorts of traveling. Because it was so expensive to go to places like Asia, I’d be gone for two weeks at a time and I would make six or seven trips a year. Early on, it was OK, but after awhile it became just part of the job.”

Taking Charge | Bernardo then ran a computer services company, MGI of Chicago. “It was a small company, but it was my first opportunity to really get into general management,” he says. “I was hired as executive vice president, but within a year, I was president.” He moved on to Oster Communications, a financial services firm that provided information to futures and options traders, and was in charge of a $15 million division.

Moving Up | Bernardo went on to Bacon’s Information in 1998 as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Bacon’s was rebranded Cision in 2007, and at the start of 2008 Bernardo was promoted to president and chief executive officer. The firm provides software and information to communications professionals. “It gives them access to the largest database in the world of every journalist and editor of every newspaper, magazine, radio station, television station,” says Bernardo. “We also monitor literally everything in print in North America, and our clients can use our software to find out how their campaigns are picked up.”

Charitable Future | Bernardo plans to make Cision his last career stop. “I’m hoping to take this train right into the station,” he says. “Hopefully, in another six, seven or eight years—whenever the time is right—I’ll pack my bags and turn it over to the next generation to carry forward. And then, I’m going to look for ways to give back, because, as I’ve found out, life has been darned good.”

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