Matthew Murray, Editor in Chief of The Wall Street Journal

Matthew Murray
Editor in Chief

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

To Whom It May Concern:

When Rajiv Pant arrived at The Wall Street Journal, our technology was in a mess in every way—in the personnel, in how it prioritized and focused and in how it interacted with news and the rest of the company.

Rajiv transformed their entire department within weeks. He methodically and fairly rearranged and upgraded our talent, making his expectations clear, giving everyone the chance to contribute, but not hesitating to make changes as needed. He was a magnet for talent. He understood exactly how to fit technology properly in the center of our larger effort, how to connect with news and other functions and how to focus on specific, achievable and remarkable product improvements.

He did more. His managerial acumen is very high, and he was able to quickly establish procedures and protocols from chaos that gave us clear goals, measurable progress and much deeper satisfaction for our users. He understands engineering talent and psychology and what motivates people. More than that, he understood how engineers and designers fit in alongside crusty reporters and graphics artists. He made the WSJ an exciting place to work for his team, probably for the first time ever for many of them.

He is a skillful navigator of his teams, peers, and bosses—quite difficult in a crowded newsroom—and quickly raised the game for all of us. It is not too much to say that it was not until his time here that we truly became a technologically adept newsroom and company. When he left us, he left an organization that was of a much higher caliber and competency than we’d ever had. He was a builder.

I found him also to be useful and thoughtful senior leader on a range of issues, from strategy in the broadest sense to important tasks like prioritization and time management. In his relatively short time here he was a pivotal figure for us. We miss him.

In the right role at the right time he showed himself to be a transformational leader and important figure for the Journal. he has my wholehearted recommendation. And I’d be happy to share any further insights if helpful.

Sincerely,

Matthew Murray
Editor in Chief
The Wall Street Journal


Here is the original signed recommendation on letterhead in PDF format:

Related: Here is a memo Matt previously wrote to the WSJ newsroom announcing my promotion.

Katharine Bailey, SVP, Product at The Wall Street Journal

Katharine Bailey shared this recommendation for Rajiv on November 21, 2019. This is the full version of what she wrote and also shared via LinkedIn:


I worked for Rajiv for two years, from 2017 to 2019 at The Wall Street Journal, where he held the role of CTO and CPO.

Before he arrived, I held a position of leading digital product, and we had been going through a tough period of transition.  I had gotten to the point within product where I wanted a new and exciting challenge, and in my desire to learn, I was interviewing for a new opportunity.  I was offered a plum opportunity, with a higher title and a broader scope. I was very close to taking it — and then I got to know Rajiv. Rajiv is unlike any other leader I have worked for….

He treated me like an equal, and reminded me frequently of how much he was also learning from me.  He used to tell me that he could have ended up working for me just as easily as me for him.  He would go out of his way to ask about product and my process, and with every probing question I felt he made me a bit better at my craft.  He would suggest countless books and way of thinking, and initiated interesting dialogues with the team around themes like empathy in product development, and the selflessness in leadership. He led by example in that we are all students in our careers and to stop learning is to stagnate – the worst possible fate. He relished in vigorous debate, giving us the gift of critical thinking when it came to coming up with the best solution for the problem at hand, whether it be the right authoring tool approach for our newsroom; how to handle successful authentication and access, or how to best handle personalization in our iOS app.

Inevitably those navigating the trio: the tough terrain of product, engineering and design, tend to favor one above the others, leading to a rather lopsided org from a focus and process perspective.  Rajiv conceded that engineering was his background, but his curiosity for design and product had him engaged and collaborating, and amazingly all three legs of the stool were on equal footing. Together we drafted a vision for what Product, Design and Engineering should look like as a single organization, replete with values, roadmaps, and process drill-downs. What was even better was we socialized it and brought it into practice.  He also brought solid talent into the team, recruiting from Apple, NY Times and Scripps, serving as a strong indication to all of us that Rajiv is someone people follow.

Product had so long worked through KPIs, but they never got the traction they deserved. Enter OKRs, a critical underpinning to our PDE story.  Rajiv introduced them to me, and really brought them to life. It was a way to tell a story, backed with a mission and attach quantifiable results.  One of the most wonderful things about Rajiv is he actually let me run with the idea. He allowed it to be mine, where others might have been slightly more territorial.  He supported me and gave me air cover as I championed them tirelessly across the organization.  Rajiv is an incredible boss. Remarkably because of our work, OKRs were adopted company-wide at Dow Jones across the B2C and B2B businesses. And this was not without tough times, and myriad questions about them.  Rajiv encouraged flexibility around how we presented them, and helped me understand the value of really “understanding the API” of the person across from you. He would always tell me that you must understand your audience when making any argument.  He countless times helped me do just that, which is a great part of the reason we had so much success in his tenure here. What Rajiv was really doing with OKRs was trying to tie all of our wonderful product work back to the bottom line, and with that giving it greater more far-reaching relevance.

Rajiv also has a remarkable ability to galvanize a team, to instill a sense of pride in their work. I watched as he regularly would check in with team members to hear about their projects, and he would encourage them to publish post about their work for external review. One woman who was quite shy felt some of that encouragement and actually authored a medium post about how OKRs work with engineers in the mobile team. This was all with Rajiv’s cheerleading all the way — it was magical to watch her gain such a sense of confidence.  He also encouraged us to publish a newsletter about all of work great product development work we were doing for WSJ. The final product was slick, well-written and broadly consumed. It really helped raise the profile of our team, well beyond order takers and into the zone of being innovators.

Lastly, Rajiv is one of the most fun and kind people I have ever worked with. He is always respectful, and thoughtful — caring about his employees, and passionate about their bringing their full selves to work. In this way he models the kind of environment he wants to create and shape.  Disagreements between people would fall away with Rajiv, and he would refocus us on the job to be done, and on the importance of mutual respect.

I hope I would work with Rajiv again, and if you get the chance to work with him…jump at it.


As Senior Vice President of Product at The Wall Street Journal, Katharine reported to Rajiv.

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.

Denise Warren, Executive Vice President, The New York Times

Denise Warren shared this recommendation for Rajiv on Aug 5, 2016 via LinkedIn:

It is with strong conviction that I recommend Rajiv Pant. During our work together over four years at the New York Times, his exemplary leadership skills directly contributed to the success of dozens of major initiatives. Rajiv and the teams he built played critical roles in the acclaimed NYTimes mobile apps, the industry leading digital subscriptions implementation and numerous innovative data-driven journalism projects. His expertise in product development, software engineering and technology operations brought our organization to the next level. He consistently displayed strong leadership and deep technical expertise. Rajiv created a culture of collaboration, high performance and productivity. When I joined Tribune Publishing as President of Digital and CEO of East Coast Publishing, I immediately knew I wanted to bring Rajiv on to lead product management, user experience design, and engineering. Not only is he an accomplished product development leader, he is a pleasure to work with on a personal level. He is consistently proven himself to be reliable, collaborative and open minded. His approachable attitude and kindness towards coworkers made him loved by the teams reporting to him as well as his stakeholders. I know many colleagues who have followed him from job to job as he brings out the best in those working with him – creating successes for all. These traits have made Rajiv well respected and a highly sought after CTO in the tech and media industries.

As Executive Vice President at The New York Times and then as President of Digital & CEO of East Coast Businesses at Tribune Publishing, Denise managed Rajiv.

Mark Thompson, President & Chief Executive Officer, The New York Times Company

Mark Thompson wrote this recommendation for Rajiv on April 13, 2016:

Rajiv is a very strong digital executive with rock solid credentials in both engineering and product, but with great creative flair. At The New York Times, he was a real magnet for talent and built a very strong team. He also showed an exceptional ability to work closely and empathetically with our own journalistic and design creative elite.

Mark Thompson

As President & Chief Executive Officer at The New York Times Company, Mark Thompson indirectly managed Rajiv.

Rohn Jay Miller, Senior Vice President of Product and Technology at Knight Ridder Digital

Rohn Jay Miller shared this recommendation for Rajiv on September 11, 2015 via LinkedIn:

Rajiv Pant was leading the online technology organization at Philly.com and the Philadelphia Inquirer when I selected him to become the first Vice President – Engineering for Knight Ridder in San Jose.

We were preparing to build the first true platform for all 34 Knight Ridder newspapers (Miami Herald, Kansas City Star, San Jose Mercury, among others) and the 29 city portals (Philly.com, Miami.com, Silicon Valley.com) Rajiv was hired because he alone within Knight Ridder had the technology, content management, and leadership skills to take on this $20 million development effort.

Quickly it became clear to us that this platform development effort was much more complex than we anticipated, especially in migrating operations from 63 individual sites onto a single platform that could support common content management, advertising, classifieds and e-commerce.

It also quickly became clear how singularly skilled Rajiv Pant was as a manager of large-scale platform development and operations. I can say that without Rajiv’s strong leadership this platform would never have become operational. It was built around an open source news content management system that Rajiv’s team developed in Philadelphia–one of the first examples of Rajiv’s natural entrepreneurship.

What impressed me the most among all Rajiv’s gifts was his skill as a manager of people, especially among very talented and opinionated professionals from across Knight Ridder.

Within one year of launching the Knight Ridder platform Knight Ridder Digital went from hemorrhaging $50 million a year to turning a profit. When Knight Ridder was eventually sold, Knight Ridder Digital was one of the three most profitable business units including the 28 newspaper units.

I am not surprised to see the track record of successful leadership Rajiv has built since I hired him in 2000. He has grown into one of the leaders in large-scale technology development and operations, even beyond the news business. I have no doubt that he will continue to build his record of innovation and management.

As Senior Vice President of Product & Technology at Knight Ridder Digital (now McClatchy Interactive), Rohn Jay Miller managed Rajiv.

Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr. Chairman & Publisher, The New York Times

letter-from-arthur-sulzberger-address-redacted

Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr.

CHAIRMAN
The New York Times Company
PUBLISHER
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
[phone and email redacted]


July 27, 2015

Mr. Rajiv Pant
[address redacted]
New York, NY 10019

Dear Rajiv:

I am writing to extend to you my congratulations on your position at Some Spider and to thank you for the excellent job you did at The New York Times over your four years with us.

Your insight and expertise were enormously valuable as we built the technology needed to launch and grow our digital business. And, your eye for talent helped us to fill our ranks with top developers and technologists. The spirit of collaboration and enthusiasm you brought to your work will surely live on.

I thank you again and wish you continued success.

Sincerely,

Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr.

Sarah Chubb Sauvayre, President, Conde Nast Digital

Sarah Chubb Sauvayre shared this recommendation for Rajiv on March 28, 2011 via LinkedIn:

I was extremely fortunate to work with Rajiv for just over 3 1/2 years at Conde Nast Digital. Hiring Rajiv to run our technology organization was a pivotal moment for Conde Nast Digital, and many of our successes (financial, creative, operational) would not have come to pass without his presence there. He brings tremendous creativity, intelligence, personal dedication and energy to his job, and he is respected at all levels of the organization.
Most recommendations on this site are positive by design, and that makes it harder for me to make clear how exceptional an executive Rajiv really is. I am open to direct contact via Linked In from anyone interested in a more detailed recommendation.

As President at Conde Nast Digital, Sarah managed Rajiv.