Our top 10 burning questions with Sharon Prill


By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly

In November 2010, Sharon Prill was named publisher of the Yakima Herald Republic (YHR). As publisher, Prill oversees the day-to-day operations of the Herald Republic, including those of the El Sol de Yakima, a weekly Spanish language newspaper, Yakima magazine, and several other highly-regarded niche publications.

Previously, Prill spent five years at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where, in November 2005, she was named vice president of the interactive media and marketing departments. In 2007, Prill was promoted to senior vice president general manager of interactive media and audience development for Journal Interactive.

Prior to joining Journal Sentinel, Sharon Prill was interactive media director at the Tacoma News Tribune. She also spent nine years at The Seattle Times Company in various leadership and key roles in new media, advertising, editorial, operations, circulation, IT, human resources, finance, and marketing.

Prill hails from Honolulu and is a 1993 graduate of the University of Washington. 

1. Why is it important to you to contribute to the community?
As the publisher of a daily newspaper, you certainly have the responsibility of running the day-to-day operations of the company like any CEO, but there is the added important obligation of serving as chief steward of a public trust.
Newspapers serve a special role in all communities: as facilitators of civic engagement, watchdogs of business and government, and reporter-of-record for news and events relevant to the health and well-being of the community. It is important to me to make sure that we continue in this public service, and through my personal involvement with civic organizations big and small, make the YHR accessible and familiar to the community.

2. What does the word diversity mean to you and how do you foster it in your work?
Diversity in its simplest form means accepting and respecting each other’s differences. As a business leader, it is my job to find ways to best employ those unique traits and cultural perspectives we each have to fuel creative new approaches to a variety of business problems and opportunities. At the Yakima Herald Republic, we have worked hard to educate on the many benefits of diversity, both internally and externally. We are deliberate in our hiring practices to build a workforce reflective of the community we represent, and encourage our managers to seek candidates with non-traditional backgrounds to further our talent pool. Some of the diversity programs we put into place include in-house Spanish language training for our customer-facing employees and managers, community outreach to minority organizations, and participation of key managers on several service and nonprofit boards focused on improving the quality of life for all our valley communities.

3. What was one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your work?
Understanding that good work alone is not enough to move your career forward. You need to be just as strategic in managing your career as you are in managing the business.

4. What was one of your proudest moments in your work?
Feedback is so important and yet you find less of it as you move up the corporate ladder. With that said, it is so tremendous when you do hear from someone you have impacted in a positive way. One of my proudest moments came some years ago when I started to get LinkedIn recommendations from previous direct reports. I was gratified by the comments and especially gladdened to see that my coaching and emphasis on people-first, teamwork, and follow-through were lessons that made a definite impression everywhere I went.

5. Can you finish this sentence? “My work excites me because …”    
I learn something new every day and I get to work with smart, driven individuals with a shared mission.

6. If you could pick only one trait, what trait do you think is the most important for a leader?
Strong communication skills — you can have the most brilliant idea, but without the ability to effectively share it and motivate others to help you build it, it often becomes nothing more than just an idea.

7. If you could compare your leadership style to that of a historical figure, who would that be?
Theodore Roosevelt: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

8. If you weren’t doing what you’re doing today, what other job do you think you’d be good at?
I am passionate about my work, so it is hard for me to imagine doing anything other than what I do today. But if I were to choose another profession, it would be that of an architect. The work of an architect, much like what I love most about my current job, is all about blending art with science to build something as beautiful as it is practical and lasting.

9. Do you have a secret talent? What is it?
Packing — years of traveling with my military family have made me an expert at maximizing any space with Swiss army knife-like efficiency.

10. If you could describe yourself in only three words, what would they be?
Action-oriented, analytic. (end)

Stacy Nguyen can be reached at stacy@nwasianweekly.com.

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Posted in 2011