What You Don’t Know About Working at McGraw-HillBy: Adam Eisenstein

By: Adam Eisenstein

Early one morning, I was able to snag an hour with our Executive Vice President of Human Resources, JohnBerisford, and get him to talk about a wide range of subjects:  why he joined McGraw-Hill, growth areas in our businesses, successful workforce personality types, digital transformation, and what job seekers should know about McGraw-Hill.  This is the first of a series of blogs excerpted from that conversation.

I first heard about The McGraw-Hill Companies in early August of 2010, when I heard McGraw-Hill might be looking for a Chief Human Resources Officer.  I immediately began to write down my impressions on the left side of a yellow legal pad: things like, “publishing, ad revenue, smaller company, closely held stock.”  These were impressions I had – completely uninformed impressions, but they didn’t make me as excited about the opportunity as I should have been.  Only several months later, as I began to talk to Terry McGraw and some of the senior board members and I met some of the employees, did I learn that everything I had written on that yellow legal pad was wrong.  I almost didn’t consider this job because of those wrong impressions.  Don’t make that mistake.

So this is what you absolutely need to know about McGraw-Hill as an employer:

1. We’re not anchored by one great brand but dozens of great brands such as Standard & Poor’s, Platts, McGraw-Hill Education, and CapitalIQ.  For many McGraw-Hill employees, pride resonates in the businesses that they help lead or work in. You hear people say “I’m proud to work for Standard & Poor’s” or “I’m part of Platts and The McGraw-Hill Companies.” Those brands create an emotional connection.

Having several different strong brands provides significant advantages to us as a corporation. As the market changes, consumers change, opportunities change and having a portfolio of companies gives you flexibility to respond to the market whether in good or bad times. This gives no need for significant swings or changes to your business model. These are great businesses with great markets that give us choices, and choices are always a good thing. You can have the organization thrive, and when it thrives, individuals thrive.

2. This place is a magnet for people with brilliant minds, expansive thinkers, people able to deal with great amounts of complexity and make it simple. The first thing that struck me when I made the rounds here was how smart, how much intellectual horsepower is in this place. But there is also a diversity of styles, perspective, and experiences that all work here, and this company is getting more progressive, more innovative, and more flexible.  When we combine our intellectual capital with a company mission to play an important role in the economy, we can influence the direction of people’s lives in a positive and productive way.

3. Approximately two-thirds of our products and services are digital.We like to talk about digital transformation, and McGraw-Hill is going through that. I was surprised to learn that that much of our revenue was generated from digital products and services—and it’s growing rapidly in every segment. We’re not done, and there’s more to do on the digital front: more opportunities, more innovation, and more ideas, but it’s not like we have to fundamentally change who we are to advance that. Today, we are a digital company filled with tremendous innovation and powering influence to make the world a better place. Not just do things that are socially responsible but actually change the world in a way that’s positive. Information, education, access to learning, growth—there are very few markets or societies in the world who we can’t touch in some meaningful way and that’s pretty cool. I think being a mission oriented company attracts a certain kind of person to work here.

4. Finally, this place is filled with absolutely wonderful human beings. The combination of really social responsibility work, high degree of intellectual challenges, and decency defines the culture of this place in many ways.   I’ll have more to say about that in my next post.

I still go back to look at that legal pad sometimes.  Now, on the right-hand side of the yellow legal pad, I have written not impressions, but facts. Very global, very digital, very dynamic, and very cool.  Keep that in mind when you apply.

John Berisford was named executive vice president, Human Resources of The McGraw-Hill Companies in January 2011. In his role, Mr. Berisford is responsible for leading critical initiatives to continually engage and develop employees and ensure The McGraw-Hill Companies has the talent to succeed in the knowledge economy.  Before joining McGraw-Hill, Mr. Berisford spent 22 successful years at PepsiCo. Mr. Berisford holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from West Liberty College in West Virginia and a master’s degree in labor and industrial relations from West Virginia University.

 Adam Eisenstein is Marketing/Branding Specialist for Talent Acquisition at The McGraw-Hill Companies, working across all business lines to connect recruiters to talent and vice-versa. 

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