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Conference points to pitfalls, potential of global publishing

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Among the many challenges facing business media companies is finding, keeping, training and developing excellent people.

"The nature of work itself has changed," Chris Majer, founder and CEO of the Human Potential Project, said at last month's ABM/FIPP World Conference 2008 in New York. "Knowledge workers are the value-generators in the economy today."

Majer debunked the common practice of recruiting superstars. "This isn't a workable strategy," he said. "If you don't transform yourself, your company leadershipóand, eventually, your corporate cultureóthe best people will soon perform just like everyone else."

Harry G. Sachinis, president of McGraw-Hill Cos.' Business Information Group, said it is up to management at the highest level, no matter the length of their tenure, "to show the importance of change. We are the ones who have to lead our businesses and workforce in transformation."

Sachinis, who has been with McGraw-Hill for nearly 25 years, had this advice for his peers: "Don't hesitate to make more changes. The more people are involved in change, the more they will want to lead change. When people get involved, when people get stretched, they transform."

"Transforming the workforce doesn't happen in a vacuum," Sachinis added. "We must manage talent actively, optimize talent globally and enable [our] best people to lead change, regardless of generation."

Sabrina Crow, senior VP of Nielsen Business Media's Marketing, Media & Visual Arts Group, agreed. "The ability to change, in my experience, has more to do with the people themselves than their tenure, experience, age or title."

"It's sort of contradictory with the unemployment rate rising, but companies have to think ahead about filling their talent pipeline," said Andrew Rak, senior VP-general counsel at Reed Business Information-U.S.

As millennialsóthe generation born between 1980 and 2000 that is nearly as large as the baby boomóenter the work force, these tech-savvy individuals will be in high demand and in relatively short supply for a few more years. Employers will have to provide greater flexibility to these workers, such as flex time and home offices, Rak said.

The ABM/FIPP World Conference 2008 was a joint effort of American Business Media and FIPP, the International Federation of the Periodical Press.

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