Jordan Sudy, VP, Goldman Sachs

Jordan Sudy shared this recommendation for Rajiv on November 20, 2019 via LinkedIn:

I’ve had the honor of working under Rajiv at both the NYT and the WSJ. His talent and expertise as both a technology and product leader is, relative to my experience, and I’m sure to the great majority of others, extraordinarily rare. Even more rare is the fact that his talent is contagious— or as he would put it— ‘his API’ so well organized, accessible and able that those of us lucky enough to be plugged into it soon find that we’re connect to a source which inexplicably, almost magically, allows us to get our jobs done par excellence— while at the same time, we somehow have fun— and as a result of both, do we become better at our jobs and kinder in dealing with our colleagues and customers than we ever thought possible.

So clearly: I really do look back at the time spent reporting to Rajiv with awe. Simply put, Rajiv is a source of good for both people and for the products that they work together to build. And, while in the top level roles he occupies, this should of course be the rule rather than the exception, any professional knows this unfortunately not to be the case.

So…fortunately for myself and all my colleagues at the NYT and WSJ who either worked directly for Rajiv, or within the systems he worked tirelessly to stand up, we can say we got to work under exceptional circumstances, and as a result got to turn out, literally, speaking for myself and others, career making products.

For proof of this, one need look no farther than the award winning products that the most trusted names in media and journalism were able to ship during the time Rajiv was present. It is no coincidence. It was Rajiv driving.

Therefore I do not hesitate to proudly say: any company who wants to do best for their products, people and customers, need look no farther than Rajiv Pant, a true leader and force for good: exceptionally so.

As Vice President of Product for Mobile at The Wall Street Journal, Jordan reported in to Rajiv. Jordan is now a Vice President at Goldman Sachs.

Roben Kleene, Former iOS Engineering Manager at The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones

Roben Kleene shared this recommendation for Rajiv on November 17, 2019 via LinkedIn:

Rajiv has a rare gift for leadership that energizes an organization. The formula is connecting with teams, understanding their challenges, and providing just the right balance of space and support to help them succeed. That he does it all with warmth and good humor is a generous bonus.

I worked with Rajiv as an iOS engineering manager at The Wall Street Journal, and I was impressed by how available he made himself to our teams. His advice and support were invaluable in navigating our teams challenges. There was never any question that Rajiv had our backs, and that was a constant source of motivation. He made it clear that our work mattered, and that our path to success wouldn’t be sidetracked.

I can wholeheartedly recommend Rajiv’s leadership for any organization.

As iOS Engineering Manager and Lead iOS Engineer at The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones, Roben worked with Rajiv. Roben is now founder of a mobile technology startup.

Che Douglas, VP of Design at Booking.com

Che Douglas shared this recommendation for Rajiv on November 17, 2019 via LinkedIn:

Rajiv is a professional, dedicated, smart and inspiring leader — his actions speak louder than his words. Something that Rajiv said to me shortly after we met in 2016 showcase this more than anything else. He said “Win people over without defeating others.” At first, I liked the sentiment of his quote, but didn’t realize at that time what an impact it would have on me and The Wall Street Journal’s culture.

I worked with Rajiv at The Wall Street Journal and Newscorp for two years, between 2017 and 2019, where he held the position of Chief Technology Officer & Chief Product Officer at the WSJ and later on Deputy CTO at Newscorp.

I saw him live out this value every day — I saw how this repeatedly resolved conflicts and broke down silos. This collaborative and trusted environment Rajiv grew, quickly became a work-place that everyone felt welcome in and produced their very best work. Under his leadership we built the first fused Product, Design and Engineering department at the WSJ.

We worked with some incredibly talented people during this time, were able to win a Webby award for the best news app and I think this was his most impressive feat — not the work itself because that involved many many skilled people — but the fact that Rajiv brought all those people together with a common purpose — and was able to rally the entire company and executive team to make something really great.

It is empowering to work for someone that you know is deeply interested in your craft, the value it brings and what you can contribute. Rajiv was willing to push and promote design, design thinking and what it means to be customer first not only internally but to the world at large.

If you have the chance to work with or for him, take it.

As Senior Vice President of Design at The Wall Street Journal, Che reported to Rajiv. Che is now Vice President of Design at Booking.com.

Andy Nichol, Deputy CTO, Dow Jones and Company

Andy Nichol, Deputy CTO Dow Jones wrote this recommendation for Rajiv on November 17, 2019:

I have worked with Rajiv for three years. During that time we have partnered on a transformation programme at Wall Street Journal which has changed the way new product features are designed and delivered towards a collaborative process involving all parts of the editorial and commercial teams as well as product managers, designers and engineers.

Rajiv was instrumental in developing existing members of the team and also hiring in new talent to help us adopt new technologies and ways of working.

Rajiv’s particular achievement was to foster a strong culture of open minded collaboration nurturing new ides and approaches. This has led to enormous improvements in the stability and performance of our products and strong growth in page views and subscriptions.

As Deputy CTO of Dow Jones, a News Corp company, Andy worked with Rajiv.

Importance of Mentorship Article by Yujin Kim, CTO of WorkMarket

In his recent article about the importance of mentorship, Yujin Kim, Chief Technology Officer at WorkMarket (an ADP company) talks about what he learned from his mentors and how they helped shape his career and life.

Yujin and I worked together for four years at Conde Nast and then for another four years at The New York Times. We have been friends and colleagues for twelve years. I witnessed Yujin grow from an engineering lead to CTO of WorkMarket. Yujin is an excellent engineering leader, a meticulous manager, and a caring collaborator.

I am honored that Yujin mentioned me in his article (and I feel lucky that my name happened to appear first, even though his other mentors are more accomplished than I am.)

Follow this link to read his article on mentorship.

My Personal Fitness Objectives and Key Results

When I mentioned that I use the Objectives & Key Results (OKR) system to achieve my personal fitness goals, some of my friends asked if I’d share my personal fitness OKRs with them. I decided I’d share the document here on my blog so it may benefit anyone interested in adapting them for their own personal fitness goals.

Here are my personal fitness objectives & key results in a document in Notion.

I currently maintain a log of my daily workouts using a custom database I created in a product called Notion.

I welcome your feedback.

Update (2020 May 30): Here is my blog post on why you should make exercise a daily habit.

My New Job at News Corp (Parent Company of The Wall Street Journal)

Dear Family and Friends, I’m moving into an exciting new job at News Corp, the parent company of my current employer, The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones. Below are the announcements from Matt Murray, Editor-In-Chief of The Wall Street Journal & Dow Jones Newswires; and from Ramin Beheshti, Group Chief Product & Technology Officer of Dow Jones. The announcement from Matt was reported on earlier at other sites and the announcement from Ramin is shared here with permission.


Announcement from Matt Murray, Editor-In-Chief of The Wall Street Journal & Dow Jones Newswires

Feb 20, 2019

Colleagues:

Most of you will have seen by now the exciting news that Rajiv Pant has been promoted to a new role as Deputy Chief Technology Officer at News Corp. This is great news for him and for the newsroom; I expect he will continue to be actively involved with us going forward and will help facilitate the next stages of tech development. In just two years as our CTO, Rajiv has been a transformative presence, bringing in a great many new talents and helping our products and technical capabilities march forward on many fronts. Thanks to him, product, design and engineering have been ever more central to the newsroom–as they must be for our continued success.

Rajiv will be with us for several more weeks before moving upstairs to his fancy new digs, and we’ll soon share plans on how we will advance the work he has undertaken. In the meantime, please join me in congratulating him and thanking him for all he’s accomplished here.

Matt


Announcement from Ramin Beheshti, Group Chief Product & Technology Officer, Dow Jones

Feb 20, 2019

Hello,

As you may have read earlier today in Marc Frons’ announcement, Rajiv Pant has been promoted to the Deputy Chief Technology Officer of News Corp, reporting to Marc.

Over the last two years, Rajiv has helped transform WSJ Technology. He reimagined what it means to be a team, by bringing together the Product, Design and Engineering groups. He also evolved how we measure our successes by promoting OKRs across the department and built a stronger, more open relationship between the Newsroom and Technology.

While he is going upstairs, he won’t be out of reach. In his new role, Rajiv will help drive global digital product and technology initiatives, and continue to work closely with many of us across the department. He will also focus on developing innovation and culture, sharing many of the great ideas from his time at Dow Jones with the rest of the News Corp family. I’m excited to see what he accomplishes in this new role.

Rajiv will officially transition to his new role over the coming weeks. Please join me in thanking him for all his contributions to Dow Jones and WSJ Technology. He has truly been a valued member of my Technology Leadership Team and I am delighted to have another strong partner at News Corp.

Best,

GROUP CHIEF PRODUCT & TECHNOLOGY OFFICER
DOW JONES

© 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Harvard NiemanLab article: Acing the Algorithmic Beat, Journalism’s Next Frontier

Read the article I co-authored, Acing the Algorithmic Beat, Journalism’s Next Frontier at Harvard University’s NiemanLab.

In a world where key decisions are increasingly driven by algorithms, journalists need to take a closer look at how they they work and how they impact individuals and society. Here is how The Wall Street Journal is approaching it. By Francesco Marconi, Till Daldrup, and Rajiv Pant.

Activities, Outputs, and Outcomes — A framework for your job

This is a framework for understanding, describing, and performing your job duties, roles, and responsibilities. You can use this as a template to create a useful job description that you would actually use while you are in a job.

It divides a job into three categories: activities, outputs, and outcomes. To be successful in your job, it is useful to understand the difference between these, and to achieve an optimal balance spending appropriate time and energy on each.

This article is written for multiple audiences — people who are primarily in maker (direct contributor) roles as well as those primarily in leadership and management roles. The ratios of time spent on activities, outputs, and outcomes as well as the types of items in each varies based on your particular job. You should determine in collaboration with your organization how your job should be defined and described in terms of these.

Ask yourself this question: After being hired in a job, do you ever refer to your HR job description to guide you or to check if you are doing what your job is described as?

I prefer to use this framework rather than the commonly seen job descriptions. Most job descriptions are not real descriptions — they are job advertisements to get candidates to apply to. After the employee is hired, they rarely, if ever look at their job description. Conventional job descriptions are usually a formality to check certain HR, legal, or compliance boxes. The commonplace job description is like the marketing ad for a product. This is meant to be the summary version of the owner’s manual. For examples of longer handbooks for jobs, you can view my previous articles 90 Day Plan for a CTO in a New Job and How to be an effective CTO.

You can’t magically drive results. To meet your company’s objectives and key results (OKRs), you must spend time on activities and produce outputs. I link to more information on OKRs later in this article in the outcomes section.

Activities

Activities are the things you spend time doing in your job. Certain activities may be doing the work of creating deliverables, but others may not deliver tangible outputs. Some activities may directly lead to measurable business results, but others may not.

Activities can be beneficial to the organization or they could be busywork of low value. It is better to spend more time on activities that lead to outcomes  — or at least to outputs — than on activities that can’t be confidently tied to valuable business results.

Always to know its clear purpose before engaging in an activity. For example, attending a meeting is an activity. If you do not have a clear and valuable purpose for why you are attending a meeting, you are likely wasting your and others’ time.

Here are some examples of activities.

  • Reading and answering emails and slack messages. Being responsive
  • Attending (preferably participating in) meetings
  • Talking 1:1 with colleagues to build good professional working relationships
  • Interacting with team members and colleagues to uplift their morale
  • Mentoring and coaching others
  • Organizing working sessions, meetings, and presentations
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Reviewing the work output of others
  • Soliciting input from other teams
  • Providing substantial and insightful feedback provided on work, documents and plans created by others
  • Leading by example. Demonstrating leadership, management, and ethical behavior
  • Demonstrating expertise or deep experience in one or more areas
  • Interviewing job candidates
  • Collaborating with others and helping them with their work

The activities in the above examples by themselves are often insufficient. You could have a very busy day at work every day, and yet accomplish little in terms of valuable and meaningful results. Imagine a car stuck in sand, spinning its wheels but not moving forward or a wild animal in a zoo enclosure pacing back and forth yet accomplishing little beyond getting light exercise.

When I ask someone how their work is these days, and they reply “busy, very busy,” I’m usually unimpressed. It implies that their schedule is busy and it is likely not by their own choice. Unless you work in extraordinary circumstances — as a hospital ER or are an active duty soldier engaged in a war — that response likely signals your schedule is completely out of your control — a sign of weakness and poor prioritization. When the first word that comes to someone’s mind in describing their work is “busy,” it is a sign that they are far more focused on activities than results. If you had to describe your work in one phrase, I’d prefer hearing words like “exciting,” “meaningful,” or “challenging“.

Don’t be busy, be purposeful

Outputs

Outputs are the tangible deliverables you create or co-create. Outputs are maker’s work. Your team’s outputs do not count as your own unless you had a significant hands-on part in creating them as a maker, not just as a manager.

While outcomes are the most valuable part of any job in any organization that cares about results, outputs are the most easily measured and attributable to you. Examining your outputs is one way for your company to know about the value you personally add. Good outcomes usually result from teamwork. Because outputs are tangible and can be reviewed by others, their examination leads to your management being able to continually better align your work to the organization’s desired results.

Creating outputs on a regular basis also helps you avoid failing the lottery test:

Below are some examples of outputs. To be considered outputs, these must exist in a tangle form as physical and/or digital product. For example: documents, presentations, spreadsheets, diagrams, videos, software code, or physical objects. Drafts and prototypes are acceptable.

  • a vision, strategy, plan, recommendations, and works of thought leadership
  • thoughtful memos
  • written down plans
  • proposals, business cases
  • competitive research
  • budget spreadsheets
  • diagrams
  • status reports with evidence of material work you did or progress you made
  • software code
  • multimedia, videos, photos, artworks
  • digital and/or physical products

As a general best practice, you should not create most of your outputs in isolation. You should share early drafts and prototypes of your work and ask for input and feedback. Your colleagues should have clear idea what you are working on and why. Stanford Professor Baba Shiv’s Art of the Imperfect Pitch is another reason to share early versions of your work.

I can’t stress enough that to be considered your outputs they need to be authored or significantly co-authored by you. Even if your job role is strategist, planner, or thought leader, you still need to write down (or make a video of, if that’s your thing) your strategy, plans and thoughts. Writing down ideas also helps refine and evolve them. On that note, while slide presentations have their value and place in specific situations, they should never be a substitute for a well thought out document. To quote the famous and successful founder and CEO of Amazon:

“The reason writing a ‘good’ four page memo is harder than ‘writing’ a 20-page PowerPoint is because the narrative structure of a good memo forces better thought and better understanding of what’s more important than what.”

Jeff Bezos

Outcomes

Outcomes are the results. These are the most valuable and important part of your job. The activities you engage in and the outputs you produce should be towards these results. I recommend the OKR framework that I mentioned near the beginning of this article. Here is a link to a comprehensive guide to objectives and key results

Below are some examples of types of results. Results should be measurable (preferably with numbers), directly lead to objectives being met, and of real, high value.

  • meeting or exceeding revenue, profit, and/or growth targets
  • delivering products and services to customers that meet their needs or delight them
  • process changes in operations and/or product areas resulting in savings of time and/or money
  • culture improvements shown to increase employee morale, productivity, and retention
  • other measurable improvements that can be directly or indirectly attributed to your work
  • better collaboration or relationships among distinct teams leading to quicker and higher quality product delivery

Next Steps and An Alternative To This

To illustrate how to use this framework, I’ll share an example of a job description using this as a template at a future date and update this article. If you try this out and would like to share yours, Tweet it to me at @rajivpant and I’ll include a link to it from this article.

An alternative to this framework I’ve provided is Holacracy‘s system of describing a job a different trio: purpose, accountabilities, and domains. I plan to incorporate some lessons from those into this system in future and will update this article.

Takeaways

To avoid the cycle of often being too busy yet not accomplishing the goals to your organization’s and your satisfaction, consider describing your job using this framework to create a quick user’s guide for your job.

If you go so far as to create a handbook to help you do your job better, include checklists because they are effective. The CTO 90 Day Plan I mentioned earlier is such a checklist.

Once you have drafted an actionable job description you can refer to periodically, use it to guide your work. You should review your actual work (your calendar, deliverables, and results) along with your job description on a regular basis, making changes to your actual work or to the description, as appropriate.

Such a living handbook is also immensely valuable to the next person in your job (when you are are in your next even greater job.)

How news organizations combat fake news generated and spread using artificial intelligence

In this age of fake news spreading virally over social media, the recent Harvard Neiman Lab article (link below) is an excellent read.

As I am quoted in the article, “The way to combat deepfakes is to augment humans with artificial intelligence tools.” Humans alone, or technologies alone are ineffective at defeating this growing problem. However, humans augmented with artificial intelligence (AI) technology can be a formidable defense against fake news.

Imagine a fake video clip or photograph that shows a person doing something they didn’t. AI alone may not be able to detect that the video or photo is fake, but AI combined with a human detective — an investigative journalist — can research and examine real world knowledge and information beyond the reach of the AI and determine that it is fake.

The investigative journalist could uncover and confirm from other sources that the person shown in the video or photo couldn’t have been in it because of contradictory real world information. For example, the subject may not have been alive when the video claims to be shot, or have been of a different age, or looked remarkably different in other videos and photos from the same time period.

If you are interested in learning about this fascinating topic — how deep learning is used to both create and combat fake news — I highly recommend reading the article about how The Wall Street Journal is preparing its journalists to detect deepfakes by my colleagues Francesco Marconi and Till Daldrup. The article is approachable, engaging, and educational. It also contains some enjoyable videos and a fun quiz.