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A glimpse at a changing industry with SCMP

The way people read news and the kind of news they like to read has changed considerably in recent times, meaning traditional print publications such as the South China Morning Post have had to work hard to give readers the news they want in a format they favour.

In a bid to address the move towards digital, the Post has launched a number of initiatives – from overhauling its corporate culture and work process, infusing data and technologies in generating and presenting news content, to engaging readers through social media.

For its Shadow a CEO Programme, the newspaper was looking for candidates who could identify potential solutions to the challenges the newspaper is facing, which include transforming its business from print to digital and handling increased competition from other digital news platforms, according to CEO Gary Liu.

Liu was impressed by the intelligence of the undergraduates in his charge. “The internet’s democratisation of knowledge means these future leaders have a wide understanding of the world, which was very encouraging to see.” Having the shadows around also gave Liu an insight into what younger employees might look for when they take up employment, such as what qualities they value in a workplace, he adds.

One aspect that Liu particularly enjoyed was watching the shadows make their presentation on the newspapers’ values and culture at the end of the programme. “Their presentations not only showed they’d paid attention but also had a good vision. There were some great recommendations on how [firms can] be adaptive to younger employees – I learned a lot.”

One of the shadows, Nirav Jethani, who is studying for a Bachelor of business administration in business operations management at City University, says his three days at the SCMP were something he will cherish. “On the first day we had the opportunity to meet Gary for 30 minutes before his monthly town hall meeting with staff in Tai Po, and for another hour before the meeting at Causeway Bay. These one-on-one sessions were amazing since we shared a lot of personal talk about his daily routine and life as a CEO,” he recalls.

Jethani describes Liu as a typical New Yorker, relentless and hardworking – two qualities he sees as essential when running a large business like the SCMP.

 “Gary has been working tirelessly since he has become CEO and his energy and vision is fuelling the SCMP’s rampant progress,” he says.

The CityU student was particularly impressed by Liu’s emphasis on transparency, teamwork and a unified direction for the company. Following his attendance on the programme, he is also more hopeful about the future of print media.

“The business is still largely running on print media, with the majority of revenues still flowing in from that direction,” he observes.

Like Jethani, Amy Chan, a language studies student at Polytechnic University, learned much from witnessing Liu’s leadership in action. “Gary places a lot of emphasis on maintaining transparency within the corporation. I can vividly remember him saying, ‘if you want your employees to trust you, you should first trust your employees’.”

Chan was impressed to see how the newspaper is customising products to users’ preferences. “It was fascinating to see how proactive the SCMP is in bettering its products, and how determined it is to overcoming challenges [such as competition from other digital media platforms].”