Seminar with Mark Allin, former CEO of Wiley Publishing
by Fraser Smith, studying on MA Publishing Media
On Tuesday 16 February 2021 the Oxford International Centre for Publishing hosted a seminar with Mark Allin, the former CEO of Wiley Publishing. This event was attended remotely on Zoom and was available exclusively for both undergraduates and postgraduates. The talk was part of a series, taking place every Tuesday, in which industry professionals offer advice and speak about their experiences.
Prior to working in publishing, Mark worked as a teacher in Zimbabwe. He then started his career in Oxford, for Blackwell Publishers, later merged with Wiley.
This began a 16-year journey with the company: working as managing director of Wiley Asia and senior vice-president Asia-Pacific before becoming CEO. He is now chair of the Academic Advisory Board at Cambridge University Press and is on the Publishing Advisory Board at OICP.
The pandemic’s effect on the industry
The event was kicked off with Mark’s view of the ways in which publishing has dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Going against misconceptions of the industry, he said, ‘Publishing is clearly not dead, it’s more alive than ever. As you have probably seen, the pandemic has actually raised and highlighted some interesting stuff about the relevance and the sustainability and the permanence of publishing. Publishing has done really well through the pandemic. Nearly all publishers have thrived.’
Publishing is everywhere
Again, going against people’s perceptions, Mark argued that publishing is a business that is everywhere. So, in terms of skills, they are relevant for different types of companies.
‘I don’t think of publishing any more as just those publishers around the world, publishing is literally everywhere, particularly in social media’, he said.
‘Every company that is putting information out there is publishing. The act of curating information and getting it to the people that want to read it is everywhere. It’s not just about books, journals and magazines.’
See the world
He went on to say that publishing should be viewed as being a ‘very global business’. Students should see that roles are available around the world and employers are looking for applicants keen to work in a global business.
‘Certainly with English-language publishing, in every field, the market is global, authors are global, sources of content are global, distribution is global,’ he said.
‘Genuinely, particularly in the early stages of a career, think about whether there are global opportunities. If they are a publisher that is in more than one location, there may be opportunities for you to work globally.’
Throughout the talk Mark was positive about the state of the industry, highlighting that there would be a ‘bounceback’ in which publishers would come out of the pandemic ‘with a need to recruit’.
For instance, when asked about the competitiveness of securing a job in publishing, he replied, saying that ‘You are in a strong position. You may not necessarily have direct experience but honestly most publishers have such a positive experience of recruiting from Brookes.’
Along with giving useful tips and advice about applications, the seminar highlighted aspects of publishing that are often not talked not about. From seeing it as a global business, to the broad role of a publisher, to the ways in which it has survived the pandemic, there was much food for thought. I would like to thank Mark for giving this engaging talk.
Last edited: 19 02 2021