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Gabriel Harp

Senior Manager of Digital Products, The MIT Press


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

I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and now live on the coast of Maine with my wonderful partner, children, and dog.

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

I lead the Digital Products & Software Services team at the MIT Press, which means that I get to work with fantastic people to publish amazing journals and books, such as HDSR [link: https://hdsr.mitpress.mit.edu/] and The Alchemy of Us [link: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/alchemy-us ]. I love to solve problems and build new things, and my favorite project at the moment is the development of an OKR (Objectives & Key Results) program at the Press. I am serving my first term on the board of the SSP and am also volunteering for C4DISC [link: https://c4disc.org/] and the PathCheck Foundation [link: https://www.pathcheck.org/]. 

What was your first scholarly publishing role? How did you get that job? What path led to your current position?

In the fall of 2004, I responded to a print advertisement in the classified section of the Boston Globe. That led to a Copyeditor role at Cell Press. Since then I have worked in journal production, operations, and product management while holding a number of leadership roles. I would describe my path as a circuitous one, the most important waypoints of which have been the moments when I have embraced — or at least accepted — discomfort.

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

Over the years, I have benefited greatly from a handful of people who believed in me — sometimes more so than I did myself. Foremost among these is Joanne Shepherd, now of Holtzbrink Publishing Group, who convinced me to take the leap into my first product role. I am also lucky to have been given the space and trust to make my own mistakes. I hope that I have learned from most of them!

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

Although I have found books, blogs, online courses, podcasts, and organizations (including the SSP) to be instrumental at various points in my own career development, these depend on the specific development need at any given time. But regardless of the development need, for me the most constant and invaluable resource has been the colleagues, friends, and family whom I can trust for their honesty and perspective. I recommend that everyone form a personal sounding board of people that they can turn to for guidance and feedback.

Where do you seek inspiration?

Generally speaking, I turn to nature for inspiration, usually by taking a walk along the rugged shoreline or through the woods. Sometimes, when I have faced a specific and complex challenge at work, I will take a bike ride and devote that time toward thinking through the problem. Some of my best ideas have struck me while pedaling up one of Maine’s many hills.

What do you wish you knew more about?

At the moment, woodworking! I can hardly seem to make anything that is plumb, square, or level — let alone all three — yet I have found myself drawn to working with my hands since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

This is a great space to work, full of meaningful endeavors and generous, mission-driven, and incredibly smart people. My advice is to keep learning and stretching yourself, and always in areas that interest you. There is no shortage of meaningful, cross-organization volunteer opportunities in scholarly communications, and contributing to these is a great way to build new skills, meet new people, and make an impact.