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Michael Duffy

Library Sales Manager at SAGE

Michael Duffy First, tell us a bit about yourself (hometown, current locale, family, hobbies, community involvement?).

I was born and raised in South Philadelphia as a Yankees/Phillies fan. I endured many years of shame and disappointment for having that duality and many losing seasons, and now get heckled for being a winner (2009 World Series created a stir when I didn’t pick a side).

I am also a Mummer (since the age of four – thanks Dad!), have a growing stack of poetry-filled notebooks, and I am in the midst of writing a novel/screenplay about growing up in South Philly.

I began as an Accounting Major at Saint Joseph’s University in 1995, and will never forget what the Business Department said to me when I told them I was switching to English my freshman year: “You’ll be back.” As I was leaving, many things came to mind, but all I said was, “No, I won’t.” I broke the doors open in the same breath. It was a turning point for which I am grateful. I never looked back.

I currently reside in the Queen Village section of Philadelphia. My fiancé, Susan, is in Nursing School (another Bachelor’s degree), and will graduate this summer.

Describe some of your responsibilities, and how you or your organization fit into the scholarly communications web.

As a Library Sales Manager for SAGE Publications, I’m responsible for academic library solutions within the Northeastern United States. I am not convinced that there is one all-encompassing solution for academic libraries, but SAGE does a fantastic job of seeking feedback from the library community, listening to their expressed needs, and responding with new product offerings. The goal is to fill the gaps and continue to be an engaged partner for librarians while balancing the needs of our Society partnerships and growing portfolio.

What career path led to your current position?

I have been in Publishing for over 12 years.

I was a Writing Fellow and Peer Tutor at Saint Joseph’s University. I then went on to Pace University and received a Master of Science in Publishing in 2001.

My first job in publishing was as an Editorial Assistant at Oxford University Press in the Higher Education division, focusing on English Literature, Anthropology, and Music. I then moved on to Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW) where I held multiple positions in Editorial, Project Management, Training & Support, and Business Analysis. I learned a great deal about editorial and production processes by launching journals on manuscript submission and production systems, while managing key society and vendor relationships.

In 2008, I had reached a point of assessing “what next”? I was always hungry, and needed new challenges. I knew that I had solid experience in many areas of publishing, but the piece of the business that I enjoy most is being out in the field and building relationships with customers. And it happened that around that time, I was sitting in a bar, watching a Flyers game, and met a random guy (and now great friend and colleague) who worked in Sales at Thomson Reuters. He let me know there was an opening and it sounded exactly like the right next step for me to take in shifting my career path to be out in the field.

I ended up taking this job—my first job in Sales—at Thomson Reuters selling subscriptions to Journal Citation Reports and the Web of Science database. I worked with both publishers and societies, built many strong relationships, and really strengthened my knowledge of the publishing industry.

Last March 2011, that same friend invited me out for drinks to talk about another opportunity, this time at SAGE. It was not an easy decision to make, but I really wanted to work for a publishing organization again and this is an exciting time to be involved with the library community. I’m coming up on one year with SAGE, and it’s been a defining time for my career.

Where do you see scholarly communications heading, and what new directions interest you most?

I am excited to see where technology takes us. I read numerous blogs daily on publishing, libraries, the serials crisis, Open Access, the Big Deal, the evolution of pay-per-view, and the struggle to manage shrinking budgets along with increasing fees due to growing portfolios. Underlying all of these issues is the value of education and the necessity of ensuring that research is properly disseminated to the benefit of all of us. The portability of intelligent information and the speed of access are what pique my interest the most.

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

First time flyers don’t help the commute.

What advice would you give to people interested in a career in scholarly communications? What new roles or opportunities do you see emerging in the field?

My advice is to just be open to opportunity, be fearless, and seek/portray truth in everything you do. You may have an idea of where you want to end up, but where you actually end up will often surprise you. And that’s ok. We all find our way eventually; it’s important to be passionate about your field.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Atlas Shrugged: “To the fearless mind. To the inviolate truth.” These are the people I cheers to.

For more information, visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelduffy.

Profiled March 2012