US-born business executive and lawyer. Scardino was appointed president of The Economist's New York operations in 1985 (where she doubled the circulation) and rose to become chief executive of the Economist Group worldwide from 1993. In 1997 she was appointed CEO of Pearson, owners of the Financial Times and the Penguin publishing group, and so became the first woman to head a FTSE-100 company. She has since built up Pearson's education content into a world leader, while developing the Financial Times as an international brand. Scardino was named a Dame Commander in 2002.
During her tenure, Scardino sold non-core assets, including the wax museum group Tussauds (for $563 million), and a 13.2% stake in the Lazard group of investment banks (for $650 million). She acquired Simon & Schuster's education assets for $4.6 billion in 1998, making Pearson a leading educational textbook publisher, and Dorling Kindersley (a children's and illustrated book publisher) for $466 million two years later. After securing an interest in Family Education Network (a supplier of education on the Internet and the centrepiece of Pearson's Learning Network portal), Scardino penetrated the online school market further by buying the little-known US National Computer Systems (NCS), which provides online testing and assessment, for $2.5 billion. She also merged Pearson's television interests with CLT-Ufa (part of the German Bertelsmann group), creating the RTL group (Pearson's interest in which was later sold in 2002), and bought television producer All American Communications.
She took a controlling stake in Kirihara, a Japanese educational publisher, in 2001, acquired the Rough Guides publisher in 2002, bought control of UK examination awarding body Edexcel in 2003, and acquired AGS Publishing (providing for students with special educational needs) in 2005. In 2007 Pearson's acquired eCollege, a provider of distance online learning programmes in the USA, and Harcourt Education International, a textbook publisher.
Scardino is also a director of the Nokia Corp. and a number of charitable and advisory boards.
Scardino was born in Flagstaff, Arizona. She graduated from Baylor University with a BA in French and psychology in 1969, and from the University of San Francisco in law in 1975. She met her husband, US journalist Albert Scardino, during her first job at Associated Press. Scardino was a managing partner in law firm Brannen, Wessels & Searcy from 1976 to 1985, while managing a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in Georgia. The Georgia Gazette, a progressive and acclaimed weekly newspaper founded by Scardino and her husband, closed in 1985 through loss of advertising revenue.