Claire M.

Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Claire M.
United Kingdom

My employment

The Company of Biologists
United Kingdom
Journalism and publishing

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A day in the life of a Publisher in the United Kingdom

Science publishing is a mix of hard work and fun.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

The Company of Biologists is a not-for-profit publisher and UK charity based in Cambridge. We publish five life science journals, host scientific meetings and provide grants to support the academic community. We're classed as medium-sized with around 60 staff.

What do you do?

As the Publisher, I'm responsible for all editorial, production, marketing and social media activities for our journals, plus the hosting of scientific meetings. As a senior manager, I drive the strategy for the business, so need to mix some creative thinking with good knowledge of the publishing sector. With around 50 staff reporting in to me, I'm also heavily involved in people management, team working and communication.
My role is very varied and I initiate most of my projects myself, so on a 'typical' day, I might meet one of the team managers to review journal plans, host a Q&A with staff about open access publishing and then discuss which cartoons would be the most fun for our China-facing WeChat channel.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

When I left York, I knew I wanted to do further study/research. I moved to Edinburgh for a PhD in molecular biology (fruit flies) and then to Manchester for postdoctoral research (alligators!). When I decided to leave the lab (not seeing many career opportunities), I didn't want to "waste" my years in science, so was delighted to get a job in science publishing in London.
I started out as a scientific copy editor, meaning that the necessary skills were a strong understanding of science and a good grasp of the English language - we got additional grammar training on the job. I had to learn good time management and prioritisation to shepherd all my articles to publication on time. And I discovered I was really good at it, which is crucial really to enjoying your work!
I was offered the opportunity to launch a new journal and started to work my way up. After four years I was responsible for three journals and about five staff. At this point, we were acquired by a large publisher, which felt quite scary at the time, but we then got much better training and wider opportunities. After seven years, I found myself responsible for 25 journals and 50 staff and I was very well supported with a personal coach to help me develop the necessary skills and behaviours for the role - and I loved my job.
With 14 years' experience under my belt, I found myself in a potential redundancy situation that coincided with thoughts about leaving London now that I had a family... colleagues highlighted an interesting opportunity in Cambridge as the senior manager in a much smaller organisation... it was a big personal change but I went for it and never looked back.

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

I intended to stay in research, but now publish other peoples' research.

Describe your most memorable day at work

Being interviewed by two Nobel Prize winners for my current job.

What’s your work environment and culture like?

Science publishing is a mix of hard work and fun. The office is quite informal, with lots of people wearing jeans and T-shirts. Staff take pride in doing a good job and more senior staff often work slightly longer days to get things done. It's a very sociable job and we also get to meet lots of scientists and some staff do a fair amount of international travel, which is hard work and tiring but fun and rewarding too.

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

I worked hard and played hard - so a great role model for those who have NOT done lots of extracurricular activities!

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

At interview, we usually ask people to list their strengths and areas for development (aka weaknesses) so make sure you've thought about these carefully and how well you suit the job on offer. An interview is as much about you checking that the job is right for you as the employer checking that you're the right person for the job.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

We offer PIPS internships to PhD students wanting to experience life within a scientific publishing organisation (based in Cambridge).

Next steps...

If you like the look of Claire’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Claire a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Claire to be your mentor.

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