By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘To Adeptly Manage and Leverage Global Developments’In a season in which several key leadership changes have been made in world publishing, Penguin Random House‘s new announcements by worldwide CEO Nihar Malaviya installed a new chief financial officer and chief strategy officer.
Just to review for our international readership, our policy in covering such changes is based on the prominence of the position(s) involved and their relevance to the international book publishing industry—our coverage’s focus here at Publishing Perspectives and our readership base. More on this is in a note below.
Malaviya’s announcements have come in the form of three memos to PRH’s international staff and are precipitated by the retirement of James Johnston, who for five years has been the company’s global chief financial officer—capping a 33-year career with PRH.
Johnston, Malaviya writes, is to stay on into 2024 to assist with the transition, and “has been an indispensable and steadfast part of our business, contributing significantly to the growth and success of both Random House and Penguin Random House.
“Starting his journey with us as a financial analyst in the corporate finance group before moving to the Knopf Publishing Group, he steadily climbed the ranks, assuming the role of director, business operations, before returning to the corporate finance team, where he subsequently held several leadership positions before being named deputy CFO in 2015 and ultimately assuming the role of CFO in 2018.
“Throughout his career,” Malaviya writes, “Jim has been instrumental in shaping our financial strategies, enabling us to make informed decisions on content acquisitions, sales, and publishing operations. A trusted advisor to our US and global leadership teams and to Bertelsmann, Jim has always been a reliable, seemingly infinite source of knowledge, in turn providing much-respected and sought-after guidance to our publishers, business managers, and shareholders. From coordinating important global processes to steering the financial reporting and planning at the time of the Penguin and Random House merger, Jim’s tenure has been marked by his commitment and problem-solving approach, especially in complex and challenging times.”
In a second memo, Malaviya names Manuel Sansigre to succeed Johnston as CFO, effective on January 1.
Sansigre’s name may be familiar to you, as he was appointed deputy chief financial officer by Johnston in April, having served as executive vice-president of global mergers and acquisitions.
Malaviya writes—with a reference to PRH’s “collaborative style” of working with its far-flung international divisions—”Manuel joined Penguin Random House eight years ago, and since then he has been instrumental in driving more than thirty investments in both publishing houses and intellectual property assets around the world, partnering with owners and entrepreneurs using a variety of financial approaches to get the best deal outcomes for all stakeholders.
“Together with his team, he will continue to expand on strategic and innovative ways to partner with publishing entrepreneurs to align our long-term interests with theirs during the mergers and acquisitions process. As I have previously shared, we will continue to selectively acquire small- and medium-sized companies and intellectual property that complement our existing portfolio and support our growth ambitions.”
In a specific note Malaviya makes about Sansigre, he refers to how he has “no doubt that Manuel and his team will continue to expand on the collaborative style of working with the publishing divisions and various global businesses that has been our hallmark.”
And finally, Malaviya also tells the staff that Divya Sawhney, who has served as head of global strategy, is promoted to chief strategy officer, effective immediately.
“Since joining Penguin Random House almost a decade ago,” Malaviya writes, “Divya has been instrumental in shaping our company’s evolution and strategic direction. Together with her team, she has led a variety of key growth initiatives in partnership with colleagues across our global businesses: working with our publishers globally in creating multiyear growth plans, consulting on global content acquisitions, launching regional data acceleration projects, and scaling our approach to the audio business across content and production in new markets.
“In her expanded role, Divya and her team will work closely with the management and other strategy teams at both the global and local levels to drive growth implementation.
“She will lead the execution of key company-wide initiatives to accelerate organic growth as well as maximize the benefits from company and intellectual property acquisitions. And as we evolve as a company to adeptly manage and leverage global, external developments, such as generative AI, Divya’s team will spearhead the creation of new capabilities across all our businesses to best support our teams.”
Our Criteria on Personnel News
Publishing Perspectives receives a great many announcements almost daily of personnel changes at many companies in many countries in our international coverage range. Unlike a publishing-industry news medium devoted to serving one national market or region, our world-industry reach and focus make it impractical for us to try to carry news of changes in companies the impact of which won’t be internationally felt.
This is why at Publishing Perspectives, we limit our coverage of personnel changes to such top-level figures such as these in dominant and/or market-leading companies because such officers are likeliest to be in touch with peers in world markets.