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Catalina names turnaround expert as its new CEO

Margie Manning

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Jerry Sokol is CEO of Catalina.

A veteran of Amtrak and AOL is the new chief executive officer at Catalina, one of the largest companies in St. Petersburg.

Gerald “Jerry” Sokol Jr., the new CEO, plans to accelerate Catalina’s transformation and emergence as a digital leader focused on marketing, analytics and technology, a news release said.

Sokol takes on a role previously held by Andy Heyman, who stepped down as CEO at Catalina in June.

The Catalina board of directors believes Sokol’s experience and digital background, coupled with his demonstrated ability to solve strategic challenges, makes him the right leader to transform Catalina, said chairman of the board Josh Lutzker in the release.

Sokol most recently was chief financial officer at Amtrak, where he managed more than $11 billion in assets, more than $1 billion of debt, and a multi-billion-dollar operating budget.

From 2009 to 2013, he was CFO and then president and CEO at Vertis Communications, one of the largest printing and targeted direct marketing companies in the U.S. Sokol led Vertis  through its restructuring.

Earlier in his career, he spent 10 years at AOL in numerous leadership roles.

Sokol cited Catalina’s renewed commitment to innovation in a statement in the news release.

“Catalina has the assets and positioning in the market to grow,” he said. “It has a scalable and customer-focused business model that delivers highly personalized, precise marketing programs across channels that turn shoppers into buyers in a way that is differentiated, effective and efficient.”

Catalina is privately owned by Berkshire Partners, a private equity firm headquartered in Boston. The company has not disclosed financial information for the past several years, but the City of St. Petersburg says it’s one of the largest employers in the city, with at least 500 local employees.

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