Despite being the driving force behind some of the biggest hits in the company's history, Maureen Egen said she is most proud of "helping to make this a great company." Egen announced last week that she will retire as deputy chairman and publisher of the Hachette Book Group, after 16 years with the company.

Egen joined the then Time Warner Book Group in 1990 as editor-in-chief of Warner Hardcover Books, where she edited Scarlettand discovered and published The Bridges of Madison County. In 1998 Egen was promoted to president and COO of the Time Warner Book Group.

Egen had been considering stepping down last year, but the surprise decision by Larry Kirshbaum to retire as chairman at the end of 2005 and the acquisition of the company by Hachette early this year made her put her plans on hold. Egen said that with Kirshbaum's successor, David Young, in place for a year and the transition to Hachette running smoothly, "now is the absolute right time to go." Citing her "irresistable combination of Irish passion and common sense," Kirshbaum called Egen "the heart and soul of the (now called) Hachette Book Group for a long time." During the next six months, Egen will serve as a Hachette consultant before taking the summer off.