A New Paradigm in Publishing

Postmedia’s Lu Traikovich is overseeing the newspaper publishing company’s HR initiatives as readers continue to move online

Lu Traikovich, VP of corporate human resources.

Advertising is down. Subscriptions are down. The radical changes occurring in print media are frequently discussed and ongoing, especially in the world of newspaper publishing. And Lu Traikovich, vice president of corporate human resources for Postmedia Network Inc., has had and continues to have a front-row seat to the rapid and dramatic evolution thanks to her active and dynamic role in her organization’s transformation.

Postmedia used to be known as Canwest Global Communications Corporation, a diverse global media company with assets around the globe. Bankruptcy in 2010, though, led Canwest to separate its divisions, and Traikovich moved from the broadcast side to the publishing arm, Postmedia, which today manages such papers as the National Post, the Vancouver Sun, and the Ottawa Citizen. (It also manages online assets such as Canada.com.)

Traikovich is charged with managing the total rewards program organization-wide, including HR policies, benefits, pension plans, and compensation. It has been a daunting task during the company’s transition. “We’re talking about taking a look at a large organization with substantial legacy systems and processes and asking ourselves, ‘What do we need to do here in this new reality?’” Traikovich says. “It was a big challenge, and we had to undertake a significant transformation program across the entire company. … We had to break down a lot of silos.”

Previously, Postmedia’s various assets and departments functioned largely as independent brands, each one staffing its own functional areas and reporting in many ways to itself. Now, a functional reporting structure is in place for all areas of the business—finance, editorial, marketing, business services, digital, production, and human resources. And, as a result of this reorganization, everyone reports to one “functional leader” in HR: Michelle Hall, executive vice president of human resources.

The transformation also included changing and eliminating roles and redundancies. The company had to determine what kind of people it will need as it works to deliver new products to new audiences and change centuries-old ways of doing things. At the same time, though, it wants to continue to “focus on the core strengths of our newspaper brands: providing compelling local content to our audiences and high-impact programs to advertisers,” Traikovich says. “It becomes an HR challenge to keep people focused and engaged when change happens as rapidly as we’ve seen it happen across our industry. … We need to make sure that we don’t lose the focus on the local because our customers want that content. It may be a younger demographic that expects the digital piece, but we still need good content and a product that customers want to see—and on different platforms.”

Change has been a fundamental aspect of Traikovich’s career. She originally intended to be a nurse or sports journalist, and she worked in health care for 17 years—in research, communications, finance, payroll, and on various systems implementations—before joining the media industry. The wide variety of responsibilities inherent in her current role is one of her favourite aspects of the job. “There’s never a dull moment,” she says. “Every day, there’s something different, and then just when you think that you are starting to catch up on something, we look at it and ask, ‘Okay, what can we do here differently?’ We’re always trying to improve and think differently about what we are doing. There’s always room for improvement.”