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Ana Antunes

Portfolio Manager, Frontiers


Please tell us a bit about yourself (e.g. hometown, current locale, course of study).

I am originally from Palmela, Portugal – a small town of around 60’000 people. I relocated to Lisbon to study Biochemistry at the University of Lisbon in 2009 and, in 2012, moved to Utrecht in the Netherlands to pursue a Masters in Cellular and Molecular Biology at Utrecht University. Currently, I am based in Zurich, Switzerland, where I originally relocated to pursue a PhD in Cancer Biology and where I remained once I started my professional career.

Describe some of your current responsibilities and what type of organization you belong to.

I am currently employed by Frontiers, an Open Access scientific publisher, as Portfolio Manager. My portfolio in 2022 was comprised of 12 new journals in the field of Health and Biomedicine. Therefore, my main focus is to lead the teams that ensure the new titles are set up for successful development and serve the community they are created for.

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 right after leaving academia. I did not apply for the role having in mind going down this career path, but I am thankful now for this lucky opportunity. I joined the Marketing Department of the European Association of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and, as the only person in the team with a scientific background, I was assigned – amongst many other tasks – with supporting the three scientific titles of the association. This became very quickly the most interesting aspect of the role and allowed me to develop my skills in not only marketing but also editorial board management, commissioning strategies, finance, and contract negotiations. As it became clear that I wanted to have a more prominent and strategic role in journal development, I applied for a Journal Manager position at Frontiers.

If there was a pivotal moment or key person in your career development, please describe briefly.

I am really thankful for all experiences I have had so far in my career development and have had the pleasure of working with multiple people that have inspired me personally and professionally. I am especially glad (oh, the power of hindsight!) for the difficult situations, as I have learned from them the most. 

What tools, websites, and organizations do you find most valuable for your career development?

For my professional development with a focus on scholarly publishing, I have relied a lot on the resources provided by the SSP. That is also the reason why I volunteer with the Education Committee, as I feel very grateful for the knowledge I have attained from SSP. I am also lucky to have access to LinkedIn learning modules provided by Frontiers, which really allowed me to extend my knowledge once I started managing a team. Additionally, I find the podcast from Dave Stachowiak, “Coaching for Leaders,” one of the most comprehensive resources on coaching and leading.

What are some of the surprises/obstacles that you’ve encountered during your career?

I started my career with a strong focus on academia and always thought I would pursue a career in research. Therefore, the realization during my PhD, that I didn’t want to go down this career path has been one of the most pivotal moments in my life. Changing career focus can be really intimidating and overwhelming. However, in my experience, it is also a lot more rewarding to have a fulfilling career, and I would argue that a career change is definitely worth all the uncertainty!

What do you wish you knew more about?

I really wish I had more opportunities to develop and learn more about people management and project management skills before becoming a manager. There is so much to learn and discover about business psychology, and a lot revolves around the implementation of the concepts. This means that development takes time, and there is only so much that can be learned solely theoretically. Therefore: The earlier you start thinking about business psychology, the better!

What advice would you give to people interested in a career in scholarly communications?

Especially if you work in a small publisher/company, I would highly recommend that you invest some time in widening your network. Just like any other branch, scholarly communications has a really wide range of positions that take advantage of various types of strengths and characteristics, and I truly believe knowing people that work in different positions is really enriching for decision-making in any career.