Longtime News Corp. Human Resources Exec Stepping Down

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At a time News Corp is under pressure from the mounting phone hacking scandal in London, the company’s head of human resources since 2007 is stepping down and being replaced in a corporate restructuring. 

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Beryl Cook, who has been in top positions  at News Corp and subsidiaries for 22 years, is leaving, but will remain a strategic advisor focusing on organizational and talent initiatives across the company, according to an announcement Thursday.

In what it called a related move, News Corp named Jeff Mook, currently senior vice president of global compensation, to assume the position of Executive vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. Mook, who is 50 years old, joined News Corp in March 2010 after 25 years as a consultant and HR expert, including working at AC Nielsen, Readers’ Digest and The Interpublic

Mook will report to News Corp Deputy Chairman Chase Carey.

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Cook, who was originally a journalist, worked in various divisions and related entities over the years including BSkyB in the U.K.

At  both STAR TV in Hong Kong and at BSkyB  in London,  she worked very closely with James Murdoch. At BSkyB her title was Director of People.

While James Murdoch was CEO of the European satellite service. In 2005, she was credited with creating what was called a Forum, to encourage two-way communications between employees and management.

She was also a key player in the many pro-environmental campaign run by BSkyB, although she stopped short of implementing the CEO's ambition of erecting a wind turbine above the company's headquarters. Under her leadership BSkyB, however, did achieve the status of one of the first media companies in the UK to become carbon-neutral.

James Murdoch has become a central figure in the hacking scandal, and is expected to testify Nov. 10 once again before a committee of members of  the British Parliament.

In 2007, Cook moved from London to New York to become head of HR for the entire corporation. At that time she was also named a member of the office of the chairman. The chairman, of course, is Rupert Murdoch, who is also CEO of the company. The restructuring means the head of HR no longer is part of the office of the chairman, but rather reports now to the deputy chairman.

On Thursday, Murdoch issued a statement praising Cook: “Beryl has brought curiosity, creativity and endless energy to her work.

I have valued her good counsel and the progress she has made strengthening our ability to develop and connect colleagues, and provide dedicated people with great opportunities around the world.  I understand her decision to leave New York and am delighted she has agreed to continue playing an important role within the company.”

Cook, per the announcement  is returning to “the Asia Pacific region to be closer to her family.”

During her tenure, Cook also held positions or worked with News Ltd. In Australia, the Fiji Times in Fiji and STAR TV in Asia.

“Making the decision to step back has been difficult,” said Cook in a statement, “but, after more than 20 years on the road, I would like to be closer to my family, and to roll up my sleeves again to work directly with some of the talented teams in the international businesses.”

Mimi Turner in London contributed to this report. 

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