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Sai Konda

Senior Managing Editor, Publications, American Chemical Society


Can you tell us a little about yourself and your work?

I am overseeing the strategic, financial, and content management of seven journals in the physical chemistry and nanoscience portfolio. I transitioned to scholarly publishing following a Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and a post-doctoral stint at the University of Delaware.

What inspired you to apply for the SSP Fellowship program?

My first job following graduate school was serving as a Managing Editor at the American Chemical Society (ACS). As an early-career professional, the fellowship application was an opportunity for networking and learning about scholarly publishing. Assigned mentorship from an experienced industry professional was an added motivation when considering the fellowship. Following the application early in the year, I was selected to the cohort of Early Career Fellows in 2017. 

What SSP activities have you been involved in since your Fellowship year?

My strong association with SSP began with an Early Career Fellowship in 2017 and volunteering on the Early-Career Subcommittee. I went on to co-Chair the subcommittee for a year and continue to be actively engaged in the Career Development Committee. The Fellowship experience came full circle when I took on the role of a mentor for a student fellow from the 2019 cohort. I was elected for a three-year term to the Board of Directors as a Member-at-Large in 2020. When the opportunity has arisen, I have contributed content in the Scholarly Kitchen through my association with the early-career community.

Did your Fellowship have an impact on your career? If so, what impact? What kinds of things did you learn? What surprised you?

Undoubtedly, the greatest benefit of the fellowship was being introduced to my mentor – Lauren Kane, CSO of Morressier, and the current President of SSP. Having transitioned from academia, this was my first interaction with a senior executive of an organization. All credit to Lauren for easing my nerves in the first call, and I never felt the gulf between our professional levels. She has been a source of constant support, and I greatly benefited from her invaluable advice on a wide spectrum of topics – from identifying an Annual Meeting session for attendance, to a complicated scenario of potentially pursuing an MBA. It was her sound advice on the latter that provided a different perspective and helped me modify plans accordingly.

I was also fortunate to cross paths early in my publishing career with Adrian Stanley, Chief Innovation and Development Officer, JMIR Publications, and the Past President of SSP. In a way, he was my first mentor at SSP, who not only encouraged me to apply for the fellowship but has been a catalyst in strengthening my ties with the society. It was his encouragement and advice that led to increased volunteering in the various committees at SSP.

While everything above has been mentioned in a past tense, Lauren and Adrian’s mentorship didn’t come with an expiry date. The same is true of other SSP members who continue to mentor me in different capacities. They continue to play an active role in my professional development – by providing invaluable advice, bridging connections with industry members, and encouraging my activities at SSP. It’s an honor to serve as a Board Member-at-Large, under Lauren and Adrian’s terms as current and past President of SSP, respectively.

What would you tell those organizations that support SSP Fellows about how their contributions are affecting issues in scholarly communications? 

The scholarly publishing industry is very dynamic and caters to a broad spectrum of stakeholders – authors and reviewers, non-profit and commercial publishers, funders, librarians, and vendors. SSP offers a common platform for these individuals from different career stages to collaborate, learn, and build partnerships. It’s important to strengthen connections between early-career and experienced professionals for SSP to advance scholarly publishing and communication, and the professional development of its members. The sustainability of the fellowship program is imperative to achieve this goal. As a fellow, I have experienced first-hand the community and mentorship spirit of SSP. My hope for future fellows is to share similar experiences through the continuation of this program. 

You can support future fellows, like Sai, with your charitable gift to the SSP Generations Fund.