CEO Interview: Mary G. Berner of Readers Digest Association

Navigating the Digital Age Mary G. BernerPresident and CEO, Readers Digest Association My single biggest concern also is our single [...]

November 1 2010 by Dale Buss

Navigating the Digital Age

Mary G. Berner
President and CEO, Readers Digest Association

My single biggest concern also is our single biggest opportunity, the issue and concern that every media company is facing: How do we move really quickly and effectively to transform our business and to leverage our core assets and competencies in the digital age? We’re content and services creators. So how do we transform that into a robust digital business from our traditional channel orientation?

We give consumers content in whatever form the consumer wants to consume it. We’re organizing the entire company in a channel-agnostic way. Fortunately, we operate in 78 countries and have more than 800,000 pieces of digitized content, translated into 23 languages, for 28 brands.

The challenges for us in creating the right channel approach with that are speed, talent and technology. Of the three, we’re furthest ahead in addressing the technology issue. We are ahead of most media companies in having a central repository of content from our brands, for example.

Being that broad, we’re affected very directly by the global economy and in the multiple countries in which we operate. Certainly, there are always regulatory issues we face, especially in some emerging markets. For instance, China can be and is a difficult market to operate in for a media company. The biggest challenges there and in other countries generally mirror one another.

For next year, we’re cautiously optimistic. We certainly have seen signs of progress, but consumer confidence is still lagging. Digital is the future of our industry, so that’s what we’re focusing on in order to innovate and grow.

The privately held Reader’s Digest Association, headquartered in Pleasantville, N.Y., is a $2.1 billion company and a member of the Fortune 1000.