Scherri Roberts, Hearst Magazines

Scherri Roberts

Valuing the Workforce

Editors’ Note

Scherri Roberts was appointed to her current post in January 2012. Roberts previously held the position of Vice President/Director of Human Resources for Hearst Magazines since February 2007. She was formerly the Director of Human Resources at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She returned to Hearst Magazines after serving as its Director of Human Resources from 2001 to 2004, and as Executive Director of Human Resources from 2004 to 2006. Roberts has also held positions in human resources and marketing management at Phase2Media, Children’s Television Workshop, Cigna Corporation, Zeneca Inc., and Bell Atlantic Corporation.

How can you maintain an intimate feel with the size of the workforce at Hearst?

It comes from the top. It’s important to us that our execs practice what we preach, in terms of valuing our workforce.  We try to demonstrate by the way we interact with one another, and the way we show our appreciation for the staff’s commitment, as we know that Hearst’s achievements would not be possible without them.

Our people are smart, creative, and passionate about our products, and about the company. Our best employees believe in treating each other with respect. We have a reputation for this within the industry.

Within international markets, do you generally seek local talent?

We traditionally partner with the people in whatever region we’re operating in. We license our brands in many instances, and we work with talent in the local market to produce magazines that fit within the Hearst template while reflecting the tastes of the region, so there is an inherent authenticity.

In general, we have a reputation as a company that knows how to be a good partner. We show an ability to work with others to produce strong products, both in the U.S. and internationally.

How critical are the training programs within Hearst?

We invest in employee development, and we did that even in the depths of the recession. We invested in digital training for our editorial workforce in partnership with CUNY, and put virtually all of our magazine brands through multiplatform journalism training.

We asked the university to develop a program to teach us how to make a story live on all platforms before anyone else was investing in that training. We also expanded that with digital training to our sales force.

We have training for our first-line managers. We conduct special training for people we consider to be strong number twos, who have the potential to be department heads, publishers, and editors-in-chief, since we believe in internal mobility.

How does an engaged leadership help drive your success and retain talent?

It’s so important. We have a weekly executive team meeting where we talk about strategic imperatives for the company. My participation enables me to understand our goals, and turn that understanding into programs for the company.

We have an internal speaker series called thincTANK that permits us to share best practices, and an employee recognition program that reinforces the achievement-orientated behavior that we need to exhibit to succeed as a workforce.

We are fortunate to work for a strong company that is privately held and diversified.  These attributes help us retain great talent.