Director of Community, ORCID
Since 2000, I’ve lived in Boston, MA but before that I had lived in the UK my whole life. I grew up in Leicester, a place that no one in the US had heard of until a few years ago, when the bones of Richard III were discovered in the parking lot of what used to be my brother’s high school; and Leicester City FC won the Premier League the following year for the first – and probably last – time, in a football/soccer rags to riches story watched the world over! I studied anthropology at University College London, did an internship at the National Air & Space Museum in DC (after belatedly discovering that the fact I was born in Illinois meant I was an American citizen!), and we then moved to Oxfordshire, had four lovely kids – now all grownups – and then to the US.
Describe some of your current responsibilities, and what type of organization you belong to.
I am Director of Community at ORCID, a small global not-for-profit organization. Our vision is a world where everyone who participates in research, scholarship, and innovation is uniquely identified and connected with their affiliations and contributions, across disciplines, borders, and time. We provide researchers with unique identifiers – ORCID iDs – and work with their organizations (research institutions, funders, publishers, associations, etc) to embed the iDs in their systems. My team’s role is in the process of changing to focus less on support and more on building effective and inclusive communities of practice, ensuring we understand and represent our community’s needs within ORCID, and providing researchers and their organizations with clear, consistent, and compelling communications and resources about our organization and its offerings.
What was your first scholarly publishing role? How did you get that job? What path led to your current position?
My first scholarly publishing role was as Journals Marketing Coordinator at Basil Blackwell Publishing in Oxford. I had originally applied for an editorial assistant position but lost out to an internal candidate. I nearly fell off my chair when they called back a few weeks later to offer me a marketing job. At the time I was sure I wanted to be an editor, but discovered I loved marketing and communications and that’s what I’ve done ever since. After Blackwell, an ex-colleague and I launched The Oxford Publicity Partnership, providing marketing services and training to scholarly and professional publishing organizations. (Why we thought we were qualified to do so with only a few years experience each is anyone’s guess!) I then ended up back at Blackwell covering for a couple of maternity leaves in the late 1990s, before being offered the newly created job of Journals Marketing & Circulation Director for their Boston office in 2000. Blackwell was acquired by Wiley in early 2007 and I had several marketing and communications related roles there, before moving to ORCID in 2015.
If there was a pivotal moment or key person in your career development, please describe briefly.
The pivotal moment was probably moving to the US – it took my career up a notch and opened a lot of doors that might not otherwise have been available to me. I don’t think there’s any one key person in my career development, but I’ve been lucky enough to work directly or indirectly with several people who’ve been great mentors and advocates, including Bob Campbell and Sue Corbett at Blackwell/Wiley, October Ivins and Sue Kesner at SSP, and Lauren Kane, my partner on investigating gender and other diversity and inclusion issues – something I’ve becoming increasingly passionate about over the past 10 years or so.
What tools, web sites and organizations do you find most valuable for your career development?
I follow several blogs and listservs including, of course, The Scholarly Kitchen (which I also write for), LSE Impact blog, and others. I have been involved with SSP for about 10 years now and have found it to be invaluable for learning, professional development, and networking. I also served on the ALPSP Council for a couple of years, and continue to find the society and its journal (Learned Publishing) and website great resources. I’m a bit of a Twitter addict – a lot of people I respect (including some I don’t agree with) are active there and it helps me find my way to news and views that I wouldn’t know about otherwise.
What are some of the surprises/obstacles that you’ve encountered during your career?
I didn’t fully see the lack of gender diversity at the top of scholarly communications until I was relatively senior, and realized that there were far more women below me than beside or above me. So that came as more of a surprise than it probably should have – and is something that I’ve been trying to draw attention to ever since. Shamefully, it took me even longer to recognize the lack of other forms of diversity – at all levels – in our community, but I’m now every bit as committed to improving that. Changing the status quo, and the (usually) unconscious bias that is perpetuating it, is one of the big obstacles many of us face in our careers.
What do you wish you knew more about?
Probably technology. ORCID is in many ways a tech startup business and it was a very steep learning curve for me to get anything like up to speed on how it works behind the scenes. Our technology director is very patient with me, and I know way more than I used to, but I would love to feel really confident that I could hold my own in a technical conversation.
What advice would you give to people interested in a career in scholarly communications?
Be open to opportunities. Make yes your default answer, whether it’s to public speaking, additional training, a sideways move that will open new doors, a meeting where you’ll get to meet you new people.