Irish Times MD to step down after eight years

 

THE BOARD of The Irish Times Ltd has announced that Maeve Donovan has decided to retire as managing director after eight years in the role and 32 years in the company. An internal process has begun to select her successor.

Ms Donovan joined the company in 1977. She became general sales and marketing manager in 1989 before joining the board of The Irish Times Ltd in 1994 when she became commercial director.

The company’s first female managing director, Ms Donovan was appointed to the role in 2001. She oversaw three restructuring plans and the move from the company’s offices on D’Olier Street to its current Tara Street premises in 2006.

She was managing director when the newspaper’s website changed from Ireland.com to irishtimes.com following the integration of the print and online newsrooms in early 2008, and during the 150th anniversary of the newspaper last year.

David Went, chairman of The Irish Times Ltd, said that under Ms Donovan’s leadership, the company expanded its print and digital interests and developed a very successful contract printing business. “The operations of the newspaper have been substantially restructured and this has positioned The Irish Timeswell in the current economic climate,” he said.

Ms Donovan said that the newspaper industry had undergone “transformational change” during her years as managing director.

“We have met many challenges and taken many opportunities thanks to the skill and commitment of all the staff of The Irish Times,” she said.

“I believe that this is now the right time for my successor to lead the organisation through the next inevitable wave of change. The company is well-positioned in both print and digital publishing and I believe it will grow and prosper in future years.”

Ms Donovan said she had not envisaged remaining on as managing director beyond 2010 at the latest when she was initially appointed. “I never had the intention of working in this role for such a long time,” she said.

“I am a great believer in relative short terms in leadership roles. Generally speaking, when people hold on for too long in those roles it is to their own detriment but it is always to the detriment of the product and the company.”

The company had an “extremely effective and well-integrated” management team, she said, “with a good mix of commercial and editorial people, and a good mix of external skills”.

She said that it was a “tremendous compliment” to the management team she had built that her successor would be chosen from within the company.

“If I have an achievement that I would single out it is building a fantastic management team where now, at long last, commercial and editorial people work well together,” she said. “It has become seamless – people who are in content really do interact well with the people on the business side.”

She cited as the high points of her time as managing director the recovery after the “financial disaster of 2001-2002” and the relocation of the company’s offices.

“Anything I regret is because we didn’t do it fast enough,” she said. “I think in business you don’t regret the things you did; you regret the things you didn’t do.

“Every decision you make – none of them is ever perfect, they will always have flaws. What you try to do is nip and tuck as you go through the process.”

The chapel of the National Union of Journalists at The Irish Timespaid tribute to Ms Donovan for her contribution. “Maeve has managed the company through very difficult times,” the chapel said. “She has always been an excellent ambassador for the company and has worked hard to help The Irish Timesadapt to a changing media landscape.”