Grad makes career pulling off the impossible

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As a student in the late 1970s, Mitch Klaif ’79 worked for Reporter.

A few months before the iPad became available in 2010, Apple asked Time Inc. to sign a confidentiality agreement so Time could have a pre-release iPad on which to develop a magazine app.

“The CEO of Time Inc. at the time said, ‘Do you think a building full of journalists could keep a secret?’” remembers Mitch Klaif ’79 (printing management). “So she declined to sign it.”

That left Klaif, who was the chief information officer for Time Inc., and his team 40 days to build an app that would be in the app store on the day the device was released to the public—without a device on which to test it. “Everyone said it was impossible. But it was really important to Time Inc. And we were there. That Saturday morning in the app store, Time magazine was there.”

Klaif has made a career out of pulling off what seems to be the impossible. In January, Klaif, who doesn’t have a technology education, was named senior vice president and chief information officer for Time Warner Inc.

The man who came from a print background has built a career by working hard, building relationships and hiring good employees. Klaif came to RIT because he was drawn to publishing and spent much of his time on campus working for Reporter. After he graduated, he interviewed with newspaper companies and landed a job with Dow Jones as an assistant production manager. He moved up quickly and was a production manager at a plant in Silver Spring, Md., by the age of 23.

When he was 27, the company asked him to move to Hong Kong and build a newspaper printing plant in the basement of an office building. He was given little direction but completed the task, which today he considers one of his greatest career accomplishments.

He worked for Dow Jones for 18 years before he left to join a start-up company publishing magazines about emerging business in Asia.

When he got the opportunity to go to Time Inc. in 1997, he was a little surprised. “I was afraid they were missing the fact I didn’t have an IT background. They said, ‘No, no. You know publishing. You obviously get things done. You know journalists. We are a publishing company.’”

At Time, he did everything from managing the company’s business continuity program to leading the launch of 21 digital magazines across all tablet platforms in four months.

At Time Warner Inc., which spun off of Time Inc. in 2014, he manages the corporate technology group, global infrastructure, information security and several other corporate centers of excellence. He also works closely with technology leaders at Warner Bros., HBO and Turner Broadcasting, the company’s three major divisions.

Klaif said he has had fewer than six job interviews during his career. Instead, he creates opportunities through his past performance and by building relationships. He is excited about this new opportunity.

“What’s next is to continue to have fun, continue to contribute and help as many people as I can achieve their goals. And that will make me happy.”