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In an industry where energy, youth, and innovation are often valued over experience, what can be learned from a panel of wizened members of the publishing industry?


At the 2010 SSP conference, a panel of four prominent members described their career paths and the things they’ve learned along the way.

Beginning her career as a librarian, Susan Kesner from the Copyright Clearance Center described how attitude has shaped her career path:

  • “I’ve followed my passion.  I’ve followed my gut.  I took risk.”
  • “While I was leaving the world of librarianship, [I realized that] I was serving it in a different way.”
  • “I’m not one who likes to stay in the same job forever… I like change… I’m always looking.”

Howard Ratner from Nature Publishing Group started in commercial publishing and never left.  He described his move from one technical endeavor to the next.  Always curious and willing to learn, Ratner was the guy who was never satisfied with a 9 to 5 day job. Networking allowed Ratner learn new things from colleagues outside his organization:

  • “If your employer offers training, take it!”
  • “You never know what your next step will be.  Always talk to people.  Always learn something new.”
  • “Try to volunteer outside your organization as possible.”
  • “View your career as a journey.”

Kent Anderson from the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery realized from a very early age that that he could write his way out of any situation.  Writing became so natural that he could compose his college papers in his head while shooting hoops, go home, and type them up.  Honing his skills on public speaking came at his first HighWire meeting, “I studied about how to do public speaking, and then just let ‘er rip.”   Anderson described his career moves as looking for functional holes in the industry and then moving in to fill them:

  • “Filling gaps is such an important skill.  If you’re trying to say on the carousel horse, [at some point] you need to jump.”
  • “Never say ‘no.’  Just never say ‘no.'”

Carol Anne Meyer from CrossRef was the girl who stayed up late reading books under her bed sheets with a flashlight.  Starting as a assistant editor at Random House soon after college, Meyer moved through several editorial positions before jumping to an Internet startup, then as an independent consultant, and did another short stint before landing her “real job” at CrossRef.  College grads should never turn their nose up at “lowly” jobs while looking for a better opportunity, Meyer maintained, “You have to have a horse to get a horse.”

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Phil Davis

Phil Davis

Phil Davis is a publishing consultant specializing in the statistical analysis of citation, readership, publication and survey data. He has a Ph.D. in science communication from Cornell University (2010), extensive experience as a science librarian (1995-2006) and was trained as a life scientist.