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Career paths

Discover what career paths our DK team have followed and what attracted them to their role or department...

 

Olivia Jeffries – Production

Career paths

Olivia came straight to DK from university after enjoying work experience that she’d done here during her summer holidays. She says that working in Production suits her organised personality and gives her the satisfaction of being in touch with all aspects of the business. 

The thing with Production is, you have to really be on the ball. You’re in the middle of all the different departments, keeping things ticking along between elements within DK and then also outside suppliers. You’re the go-between for them, so it’s really on your shoulders to be on top of everything, because otherwise the other parties won’t know what’s happening.

That suits me – personally, I’m very organised. To the point that it actually annoys people. You should see my email folders, they’re excessive!

When you work in Production you get a very tangible satisfaction. You put all this work in and you see what every different department is doing to get the book ready. Then you see what your printers are doing, what the shippers are doing, what the warehouses are doing.

And then you get to be the person to see the very first advance copy. Sometimes your name is on the imprint page if it’s a frontlist title. It’s really exciting! Then you get to go and hand out the advances and see everyone’s reaction to all this hard work that everybody’s put in.

I studied French at university – I’m American but went to uni at King’s in London – and I even get to use my language skills in the role. We talk to our International Sales department and we have a lot of French contacts. It was actually French and Literature I did at uni – that was where I picked up the publishing bug. I really wanted to be in this world. And although what DK does is very different from seventeenth-century French drama, it still satisfies that desire.

I hadn’t really known what I wanted to do, which is why I studied French, so I could keep my options open and have a real skill that could be used in many different ways. But I set my heart on publishing early on. My first work experience at DK was the summer of my second year at university. That was actually with the special sales team. I just really enjoyed it, so kept asking to come back and they kept taking me. When I left university, I got in touch with my contact at DK and told her I was looking for work now, and she was aware of a Production Assistant role.

I didn’t actually know a great deal about Production before I started but, as I researched it for the interview, I thought that actually it would really apply to my skillset. It was a really good fit.

I’ve been here for two years next month. I’m always signing up for training courses – skills that are great for my role, like negotiation or time management. But they apply to so many different roles, you meet people from around the company on the courses, see what they do, how it applies to their role. We have a great trainer who comes in. You take a subject matter that you think could be really dry but he makes it fun and the day just flies by because you’re really enjoying it.

I’ve also been exploring the online courses available. They’re in my to-do file – my very well organised to-do file.

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Becki Howard – Finance

 

Becki came to DK as a chartered accountant with a background in audit. She says that DK’s unique culture sets it apart as a company. 

My background is in financial services. In terms of qualifications, I’ve done ACA, which means I’m a chartered accountant. I trained in audit at BDO, so I used to visit lots of companies and do the audit of their financial statements. My department was consumer markets, so I did a lot of retail and restaurant clients.

I came to work at DK because I was looking for a different opportunity through a recruiter. I got the job spec for my role at DK and I really liked the sound of it. There’s a strong wholesale side at DK so I had experience of that. I had my first interview, tests and things, then a second interview with the Financial Director and they offered me the job. I accepted pretty much immediately. I’d got quite far with the interview process for a couple of other jobs, but I chose to accept the role at DK because I really liked the sound of the company.

One of my roles is to circulate a tracker on the key titles that are selling at the moment. It’s a real connection to the rest of the business, understanding the books that are published and how they’re selling into the market. Mostly the side of finance that I’m in is about planning and reporting, so I have less interaction with the creative side but more with Sales and people in Penguin Random House in general, and a lot of the global business all around the world.

In general, I’m used to working as part of a team. I’ve led various teams in the past, and have communications skills across different departments and hierarchies. I’ve led training courses before and done lots of presentations. I’ve continued that in DK. It’s a general course for people in the company to come and understand a bit about what finance do. It’s a good way to meet people across the business.

For me, the people are the most important part of a job and I felt that immediately. There’s a real culture at DK of people being friendly, focused on what they’re doing and passionate about their work. You feel it as you walk around the office!

It’s such an interesting company to work for – you’ve got the creative side, the authors coming in and things like that, but you’ve also got Sales. I think it’s quite common too to move around roles – they’re good at providing people with opportunities.

The training and things are really, really good because we’re part of a big group. The opportunities are incredible. Friends who have come from similar backgrounds to me haven’t had half the opportunities that I’ve had. Not just finance related; I’ve had lots of personal development opportunities as well. Recently I did the ‘finance update’; an update on all the financial areas that have been changing, to keep me up to speed with the industry.

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Sunhee Jin – Sales

 

Sunhee was working as a sales manager in the fashion industry when she found herself craving a new challenge. She says that DK has satisfied her desire to work in an inspiring environment that is both collaborative and creative. 

I’d been working as an international sales manager in the fashion industry and was craving a new challenge. I was focused on expanding my career within Sales but I wanted to experience a new sector, especially within the cultural and publishing industry, so DK was perfect. My position here is International Sales Executive.

When I was in Sales in the fashion industry it was a buyer-led industry, so you couldn’t really input your thoughts or opinions. Here it’s different. I don’t know if it’s DK or the character of the publishing industry itself, but we always communicate. I feel like my voice is heard and respected by other people. Instead of just receiving opinions and thoughts from others, I add my input to make a great book. There’s a connection between my voice and the finished product.

Another thing I really enjoy is going to the book fairs and on sales trips. They’re really busy! But after them I feel more confident with managing time, preparing meetings and maintaining good relationships with partners. I go to Korea for sales trips, and to London, Bologna and Frankfurt book fairs. Other publishers really admire our books.

I get to use my language skills in this role on a daily basis – Korean, of course, and I also studied Chinese. I lived in China for a couple of years after uni. Being able to speak and work with people from those countries, to make use of my cultural background, really appealed to me. IPL – international publishing and licensing – is a truly international environment.

When I came for interview, I was walking past the desks and I really felt that everyone loved what they were doing. I wanted to be one of those lucky ones to be here. I wanted to be a part of this team. Everyone is so proud of what they’re doing.

The companies I worked at in the past were smaller, so they didn’t have these structured training and learning programmes. Because I’m a salesperson I liked the training about negotiation and sales skills. I also did a stress management class, which was applicable to my personal life as well. The training courses are every year and for everyone. I’m grateful for that.

It’s good for me in terms of personal development too that I work with inspiring, experienced people. So I learn a lot from them. I’ve grown with them, and there’s still so much to learn from them. I feel so lucky to be on the same team as them. IPL is a rare place, with so many different inspiring people.

I have colleagues from so many different cultural backgrounds. You get to know how to work with them, then how to become friends with them. You start as good colleagues and in the end you’re good friends.

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