Posts Tagged: alumni

Illustrious Alumni: Heidi Waechtler on how her career has come full-circle

Heidi Waechtler was once an MPub student—and now she’s the Executive Director of the Association of Book Publishers of BC (or ABPBC, which being able to say quickly and correctly is almost a right of passage for Master of Publishing students).

She sat down to answer the questions we all have as we’re nervously researching, applying, and starting the degree: why did you choose this program? What doors did it open for you? And was it worth it?

Check out her responses below:

“My decision to apply to the MPub program began with what you would now call FOMO, or ‘fear of missing out.’ (Okay, I didn’t enter the program that long ago.) I had friends who were completing the program or had recently finished, and even though I already held a certificate in editing from SFU, was working in a publishing-related job (as the project coordinator for the Magazine Association of British Columbia), and had begun building a professional network, I realized from hearing about the assignments my friends were working on that there was still a lot I didn’t know about the actual business of publishing. The program made sense to me as a way to ground what I knew in a combination of academic study and practical training, and to receive feedback from working industry professionals along the way.

After completing the coursework, I ended up doing my internship in the editorial department at McClelland & Stewart in Toronto, and eventually became the managing editor at Coach House Books, where I worked for four years. In both roles I had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the country’s top publishing professionals and authors. Two years ago, I moved back to Vancouver to take on the position of executive director of the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia – bringing me back almost full circle to an industry-facing role where I now draw on my experience to work on policy, marketing, and business development initiatives on behalf of the province’s book publishers.

Looking back on the late nights spent in the MPub project rooms with my colleagues, I realize the most important thing I took away from the program – besides how to do a P&L or write an effective call to action – was the knowledge that if I were capable of managing the complex, open-ended assignments in a condensed timeframe, I could manage whatever challenges the real publishing world would present me with. Write snappy yet intelligent sales copy for a book that wasn’t yet completed? I’d done it before. Come up with an idea for out-of-the-box promotional swag to include with a review copy? I had a couple of vendors in mind already. Proofread a manuscript overnight so we could rush it off to press? Hand me a coffee, and consider it done.

There are realities about the industry I could have only learned on the job, but the MPub program helped me become more confident in my own ability to see a project through to completion and also – thanks to the aforementioned project-room time – more humble about the value of collaboration.”


Illustrious Alumni: Jennifer Croll

It’s been just a few weeks since Jennifer Croll transitioned from her role as Managing Editor to Editorial Director at Greystone Books. And it’s been around 14 years since she was a grad student in Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Master of Publishing (MPub) program.

Although she’s more than busy running Greystone’s editorial program and publishing a few of her own books on the side, Croll was happy to chat one rainy afternoon about the value she got from the MPub program and the path her career has taken.

Like many in people in publishing, Croll’s career path has been both meandering and unexpected. After completing her undergraduate degree in psychology, she decided to take a year and live abroad in London.

“I’ve always been very interested in books and in writing, and I wasn’t sure that it was something I could turn into a job,” she said. But she applied for an editorial assistant position anyways, and on day three in England she had a job.

Realizing that this was career she wanted to pursue, she returned to Canada to complete the MPub program.

“One of the things I found most valuable in the MPub was the people I met while doing it. The MPub provides many great contacts, and many of the people who were in my class I still know and they still work in publishing.”

She highlights Laraine Coates, the Marketing Manager at UBC Press. Then there’s Iva Cheung, who is now a doctoral student whose research centers on how plain language affects people’s health. And Kathy Sinclair, who went on to become both the Executive Director of the Kamloops Arts Council and a Kamloops City Councillor.

And Croll? After graduating from SFU, she spent six years working in the magazine industry and few years in online media before transitioning over to books.

When she interviewed for her first position at Greystone, the interviewer was none other than Nancy Flight, who was one of her instructors back in the MPub program (and the woman whose shoes she is now filling).

“A great thing about it being a small company is that you get to do bits and pieces of whatever you’re interested in,” Croll says of Greystone. “We’re very collaborative.”

Looking at her career, she is most excited about all of the books she has played a key role in publishing—like the authorized biography of Buffy Sainte-Marie she is currently editing (watch for it this fall). And of course, she’s proud of the books that she’s written—Bad Girls of Fashion: Style Rebels Through the Ages (Annick Press, 2016) and Fashion That Changed the World (Prestel Publishing, 2014).

She also has a couple of other books coming soon: Free the Tipple (Prestel Publishing, Fall 2018) and Bad Boys of Fashion (Annick Press, Spring 2019).

“I think a lot of people have an expectation that they will immediately have their dream job, but career paths can be winding and can take a little while to evolve,” Croll says. “Ten years when you look back, it can be amazing to see how far you’ve come and where you’ve ended up.”

You can find Croll on Twitter @jencroll.