Living through a £2.4 billion merger
Neil Morrison is a man who believes in looking forward. As group HR director of Penguin Random House, he lived through the £2.4 billion merger of the two publishing giants in 2013 at a time when the industry was in turmoil, reeling from the effects of heavy discounting by online retailers such as Amazon and struggling to adapt to new e-book technology and piracy problems.
With a need to acquire and develop talent for this new era of publishing, Morrison has embarked on an ambitious digital transformation programme at Penguin Random House, building new capability in the organisation, and in the process raising the profile and reach of his 30-strong HR department.
But as a self-avowed HR evangelist and newly appointed CIPD board member, how has he created this brave new world?
“In 2008 when I first joined Random House, the iPhone didn’t even exist in the UK. There was no Kindle or Android. Fast forward five years, and how we consumed media was completely different, so it was all about taking the organisation through that transformation journey, building new structures and skill sets without losing sight of who we were,” says Morrison.
“We wanted to be clear that we were a publisher, but that we wanted to transition into a digital world, and deliver what we do really well even better because of technology, rather than get distracted by it and start thinking we were a technology company instead,” he adds.