By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Rabe on Malaviya: ‘The Right Leader at the Right Time’With the news from Gütersloh that Bertelsmann has named Nihar Malaviya the permanent worldwide CEO of Penguin Random House, Malaviya’s offices have followed with his announcement of a change in DK’s leadership in London.
Malaviya, as Publishing Perspectives readers know, is the headline speaker in this year’s Publishing Perspectives Forum at Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 18 to 22), and will open the Forum on October 18 in conversation with us at 10 a.m. CEST (8 a.m. GMT) in Room Spektrum of Frankfurt Messe’s Congress Center.
Having been made interim CEO at the beginning of the year, Malaviya has made a series of decisive leadership changes and contextual adjustments for the company’s multinational scope, prompting Bertelsmann’s CEO, Thomas Rabe, to write in his announcement, “In Nihar Malaviya, the right leader is at the helm of Penguin Random House at the right time.
“Nihar has proven exactly this over the past nine months, and I’m delighted that he is now taking over responsibility for Penguin Random House on a permanent basis.
“As interim CEO, Nihar has set an important strategic course. Most importantly, he has transformed the structures at Penguin Random House so that the publishers and publishing groups can work more creatively and entrepreneurially. I’m confident that he will continue to develop the group with great vigor. I look forward to continuing to work with him as CEO of Penguin Random House and on the Group Management Committee,” which is the assembly of top executives that advises the German media company’s executive board.
As worldwide CEO of Bertelsmann’s Penguin Random House, Malaviya has responsibilities for the company’s more-than 300 imprints, together spanning 21 nations on six continents.
A key focus for him, as he has made clear, is elevating the publishing independence and creative autonomy of PRH’s imprints, and driving competitive advantages to position the company for growth. As part of that growth strategy, the company has noted, Malaviya is also advancing Penguin Random House’s diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments and sustainability goals.
Our readers will recall that prior to his appointment as interim CEO on January 1, succeeding Markus Dohle, Malaviya served as president and chief COO of Penguin Random House USA, a role he had filled since 2014.
Nihar Malaviya “has transformed the structures at Penguin Random House so that the publishers and publishing groups can work more creatively and entrepreneurially.”Thomas Rabe, Bertelsmann
Rabe writes, “Malaviya has spearheaded the creation of a number of industry-first capabilities in data science, supply chain, technology, and consumer insights.” The objective, Rabe writes, “was always to reach the widest possible audience for the company’s authors and their books across multiple formats and platforms.”
Rabe in his message points out that as leader of the Penguin Random House Global Executive Committee, Malaviya focuses “on elevating the publishing independence and creative autonomy of the company’s imprints and driving the creation of competitive advantages that position the company for growth”—something we’ll hear more about at Frankfurt.
Malaviya began his career at Bertelsmann in 2001 as a participant in the Bertelsmann Entrepreneurs Program. In 2003, he moved to Random House, taking on a number of leadership positions. Malaviya is a two-time recipient of the Bertelsmann Entrepreneur Award for Strategy Execution. He holds an MBA in finance and marketing from the NYU Stern School of Business, as well as a Bachelor of Science in computer science. He also serves on the boards of directors of the Association of American Publishers and Yale University Press.
Malaviya on DK: A ‘Unique Global Publshing Model’
Even as Rabe at Bertelsmann in Germany has praised Malaviya’s reshaping of leadership structures at Penguin Random House, Malaviya’s offices have released a memo to the PRH staff, outlining changes in the London leadership of one of the best-performing elements of the PRH world portfolio, DK Worldwide.
Beginning on January 1, the DK co-CEO Rebecca Smart will take up a newly created role as a dedicated internal leadership and talent coach, Malaviya’s memo announces, reporting to Jo Mallia-Barsati, who is vice-president of Penguin Random House’s global talent management team. Paul Kelly, Malaviya tells the company, “will remain the CEO of DK, reporting to me.”
Publishing Perspectives readers will recall the dual interview we had with Kelly and Smart in October, in which it became apparent that DK—founded in 1974 as Dorling Kindersley–has something rare in the international book publishing business: actionable brand recognition among its consumer base.
In his memo, provided to Publishing Perspectives, Malaviya points to the range of her own talents, which has bolstered Smart’s move now into her new role.
“Since Rebecca began at DK as managing director of publishing in 2019 before moving into her current role as co-CEO in 2022,” Malaviya writes, “her breadth of experience in content, unparalleled industry knowledge, and collaborative spirit have been integral to DK’s marketplace success.
“Rebecca’s transition to leadership and talent coach is a testament to her decision to focus on her genuine passion. A true people developer, she has recognized and leveraged the power of coaching for many years to uplift and nurture her teams and employees. This next step will allow her to pursue that passion even further at Penguin Random House.
“Rebecca’s role,” Malaviya continues, “will accelerate our global talent strategy and focus on driving the growth of our talent, leaders and teams worldwide. Prioritizing retention and career development have become increasingly important for the success of our businesses, as well as living up to our promise to build and nurture a diverse global workforce. I am excited that with Rebecca’s deep knowledge, passion and momentum coupled with Jo’s expertise, we will further strengthen the growth and development of our outstanding employees worldwide.”
In terms of the DK leadership’s outlook going forward, Malaviya writes, “Under Paul’s exceptional leadership, DK will continue its upward trajectory. Paul has been at the center of DK’s strategy for the last seven years, first as CFO and strategy director, and later as co-CEO.
“I had the fortune of experiencing DK’s unique global publishing model firsthand when I visited DK’s India offices several weeks ago. With Paul at the helm, DK’s publishers around the world have been at the forefront of pursuing new creative opportunities, and they will continue to be successful and innovative in the months and years ahead.”
Nihar Malaviya concludes his message to the international staff, writing. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with Rebecca in her new capacity and continuing to partner with Paul and the DK team on growth strategies to reach even more readers around the world.”
A programming note: The Publishing Perspectives Forum at Frankfurter Buchmesse on October 18 at 10 a.m. featuring Penguin Random House’s Nihar Malaviya–and all of our PP Forum events–are open without charge to all Frankfurter Buchmesse trade visitors and exhibitors.
As last year, the PP Forum is set in the bright, tree-lined Room Spektrum on Level 2 of the Messe Frankfurt Congress Center. More on the Forum and its programming is here, with information on our speakers and their appearances.
More from Publishing Perspectives on Penguin Random House is here, more on Bertelsmann is here, more on the work of Nihar Malaviya is here, more on Frankfurt Book Fair is here, and more on industry statistics is here.