When Greg Giangrande transitioned from an aspiring journalist to human resources professional, it didn’t seem like a major leap. His first HR job was at book publisher Random House. He then held leadership roles in HR at mass media companies Condé Nast, Hearst Corporation, and News
Corporation. Today, Giangrande is the executive vice president, chief human resources officer, and chief communications officer for Time Inc., a leading multiplatform consumer media company. Within all of these roles, Giangrande has found many parallels with his former profession.
“Journalism requires curiosity, communication, and storytelling,” he says. “Those same things are important in HR. When you are dealing with attracting and retaining talent, it requires a curiosity to understand what makes people unique and what will resonate with them. When you are trying to create a company culture, there is a lot of communication and storytelling involved.”
Giangrande joined Time Inc. in 2012 because he found the company’s reputation and history appealing. Founded in 1922, Time Inc. has a portfolio of more than one hundred news and culture brands, such as People, Sports Illustrated, InStyle, Real Simple, and Fortune that reach more than 170 million people each month across multiple platforms. It also has fifty offices around the world, including its New York City headquarters.
“The job offer coincided with a time when I felt ready to think about a new move,” Giangrande recalls. “It was an opportunity to be the head of HR for one of the most iconic and important media companies in the world. Given my background, experience, and interests, working for Time was a very compelling proposition.”
As chief human resources officer, Giangrande oversees hiring, training, and salary and benefits packages for the company on a global level. In 2016, Time Inc.’s president and CEO Rich Battista added chief communications officer to Giangrande’s job title. Giangrande was happy to take on more responsibility because he saw the potential to dovetail the two roles.
“The communications part of my job complements the HR part nicely,” he says. “I am telling stories about why the company matters and why people should want to come work here and remain employed here. I am tasked with putting together an internal and external narrative that will resonate with employees, prospective employees, business partners, and clients. This unique, hybrid position brings a lot of variety to each day and makes my work stimulating.”
“I believe we are on the right path to becoming the most successful and largest consumer-based media company on the planet.”
He also enjoys the complex nature of his job. Yet, there are many disruptions happening in the media industry that present him with challenges. To thrive in that market, Giangrande and his team must execute strategies based on endemic business changes, how people are consuming content and engaging with brands, and where and how people are buying products and services.
“There are big, sweeping forces that aren’t necessarily within our control,” Giangrande says. “Fortunately, if anyone in the space is able to transition, it should be us. We have a distinct advantage given our scale, history, and the strength of our brands and our business.”
A strong corporate culture is another advantage for Time Inc. Giangrande says the company strives to create an atmosphere where employees know that they are respected, that they have a voice, and that their contributions matter. One way the company demonstrates this is by offering competitive salaries and benefits. Leadership also gives employees the freedom to work autonomously. Giangrande says there isn’t a staff versus management mentality. Instead, leaders foster open communication and serve as career coaches to their team members. Giangrande promotes the culture by providing managers with targeted in-house training and development programs.
“What people want is clarity and a sense of purpose,” Giangrande says. “We want to establish an environment where people are comfortable to be themselves and do their best work. That is how you develop a positive workplace and a positive culture.”
Innovation is a key component of Time Inc.’s culture and success. Giangrande says he wants to empower employees to take chances. For example, the company recently launched The Pretty, a beauty content social brand that caters to millennial and Gen Z audiences. The company also created an online series called Homemade vs. The Internet, which streams on Watch—Facebook’s new original video-viewing hub.
“Being entrepreneurial, innovative, and fearless is in the DNA of every creative company,” Giangrande says. “You can’t be successful in media without those traits. Our CEO values those traits and talks about them constantly. We celebrate our people taking chances and thinking outside the box.”
With his focus on the future of Time Inc., Giangrande is aware of the delicate balance between tending to the company’s short-term needs and staying ahead of the curve. And Giangrande is proud of the role he plays in helping the company navigate through one of the most turbulent points in the history of media.
“To be part of the team that is helping to write the next great chapter of this almost one-hundred-year-old storytelling company is extremely rewarding,” he says. “I believe we are on the right path to becoming the most successful and largest consumer-based media company on the planet.”
Teamwork is what keeps Giangrande moving forward with so much on his plate. He says he relies on the expertise of the people around him to stay on top of industry trends and make informed decisions.
“No one can do this alone,” Giangrande says. “I loved team sports growing up, and I enjoy working as part of the team at Time Inc. I like the camaraderie, the shared responsibility, and the shared winning and losing. It is gratifying to go through it all with a group of talented professionals who are smart, creative, respectful, and love what they do.”
Photo: Lisa Berg
Willis Towers Watson is proud to work with Time Inc. and Greg Giangrande, executive vice president, chief human resources officer, and chief communications officer. Willis Towers Watson offers benefits delivery and administration solutions where every step along the journey is created, managed, and supported by just one company. Our solutions can help reduce administrative burden, mitigate costs, attract and retain great talent, and better engage a diverse workforce.