'Our mission is to bring quality books to the market and extending career opportunities giving new opportunities to first time authors,' says Jade Robertson, International Publishing Director for Austin Macauley Publishers,
What's the story behind your business?
We are a known international book publishing company - Austin Macauley Publishers - recognised for business acceleration over the past few years in the global publishing markets. Due to having a strong interest in the Arab market and with a growing number of requests in this region, it made sense to open a division in the Sharjah Publishing City within the United Arab Emirates. We are publishing books written by first time authors as well as previously published authors, in Arabic and English, as well as translating books.
If all goes well, where do you see it going in the next five years? The next decade?
I don’t feel like you should limit your ambitions and success. Obviously, as a business woman, I set myself goals, but I guess if I had to say where I would see us, I would say that I’d like to be more involved in the educational sector and in publishing books in more languages other than English and Arabic.
What's the single biggest challenge facing your industry today?
Copyright and counterfeited products is a major issue worldwide that all publishers must take care of. Although we have several measures in place, it is a known risk worldwide in publishing. I’d be interested in being a part of counteracting this.
Where do great ideas come from in your organisation?
We have a team of extremely talented staff members who carry out frequent market research and feel that they can have a voice in our organisation. I have an open-door policy, meaning I’m happy for them to come to me and share their ideas. We have targets too that we set in house and we brainstorm frequently across departments. Due to being in a fast-paced industry, we feel that it is important not to become complacent.
How do you encourage creative thinking within your organisation?
It is important to keep the staff motivated which we do by giving motivational talks and praising them when appropriate. We set clear objectives, have appraisals, encourage them to give more ideas and value the work that they do for the company.
What is the most important in your company – its mission, core values or vision?
Our mission is to bring quality books to the market and extending career opportunities giving new opportunities to first time authors. We take great effort in this as we are experienced book publishers, successfully publishing authors for 13 years and we want to encourage reading as much as possible. E-publishing is also important to us, as the technology nowadays is making a lot of people switch to reading books online.
What's your decision-making process?
I always assess the potential risk and what the results of my decision will be. It is important to think about who you should involve sometimes in your decision, whether that should be the managers or the teams that it will impact, or if you should make the decision yourself. My advice is to think it through and never make an impulse decision, as sometimes a badly made decision can lead to a problem further along down the line.
Do you believe social networking has impacted your organisation or yourself, personally? How has it done so?
Nowadays consumers and even potential or existing clients check social media to evaluate your companies and professional profiles, which is why it is important to keep this in mind when posting on your profiles. Social media is now a way for people to voice how they feel, what they liked or even what they’re doing.
It is a valuable resource for driving business if you know how to brand yourself online and it has given us the opportunity of reaching a wider market, especially to be available to people who are publishing for the first time. I tell my digital team to be proactive, not reactive and to engage with the target audience. Go to who you’re targeting online, don’t always wait for them to come to you!
What do you enjoy the most about working at your company?
Personally, I love that I have the freedom to explore new markets, source new opportunities and the feeling of when an idea initially starts as a concept and then flourishes into a project.
Can you name a person who has had an impact on you as a leader? Perhaps someone who has been a mentor to you? Why/how did this person impact your life?
My boss at my first job when I was 16 years old. I was working part time alongside studying. He had more than 30 years’ experience in business but trusted me enough to work closely with him and be involved in the development as well as in running his business. This is when I realised my potential and interest and decided that I wanted to study it at university after working with him closely for two years.
What is the most important/biggest decision you've ever had to make for your company?
As the company grew, our current internal processes and systems weren’t in line with the workflow. We had to plan how we could carry out the work we had to do, but also keep in mind the future predicted growth for each market we were targeting, and the financial implications involved. Being responsible for such an important decision was nerve-wrecking as it could either make us work more efficient as a company or be harmful to the business if it failed.
What would you say to a new employee about the culture of your organisation?
Culture is everything. Our teams are very friendly and always happy to help. It is important to give off a positive energy as a leader as this constitutes to the office environment.
When faced with two equally qualified job candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
If it was to come down to them having the same qualifications, then I would make my final decision based on who would be a better fit in the team.
What are three characteristics that you believe every leader should possess?
The three Ps - Patience, Persistence and People-skills.
What advice would you give to someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
You need to get to know your staff and their strength and weaknesses. If you’re not their direct line manager, then sit with your managers and understand how they’re allocating tasks and dealing with them. Staff development is important and crucial to the daily running of your business alongside your systems.
What's your greatest fear in business?
Technology, as it can intervene with the work systems. We must keep the systems updated in order for the workflow to remain uninterrupted. Our team is always looking out for challenges to overcome them.
What's the best way to prepare for uncertainty (which is increasingly relevant in today's market)?
The best way is to keep the company’s vision, mission and goals in sight and to always remind ourselves of them. This way, we won’t be doubting ourselves and we will be making decisions in the company’s interest. We should always discuss issues amongst the team members and keep each other encouraged.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
Running a business, living in the UAE and being amongst so many different nationalities and cultures I realised that I have developed a strong interest in languages and I’m currently learning Arabic. ‘Inshallah’ it is going well.
What's one productivity tip you wish everyone else knew?
The art of multi-tasking. You can accomplish so much more in a day if you can multi-task by doing more than one thing at once. It helps in going through my to-do list and finishing it as soon as possible. Time management is also an important factor in staying productive during work.
What is your most prized possession and what is the biggest luxury in your life?
It’s not a possession or a luxury, but the most important thing to me is family and friends. I try to spend as much time as possible with them and to keep my personal and work lives balanced.
What makes you get out of bed each day?
The thrill of what I’m doing, the opportunities that I give people and the fact that I have a lot of individuals who rely on me. All of this helps me in looking forward to everyday and in setting daily goals for myself.
Quote to live your life by?
No matter what has happened at work that day always remember that every problem has a solution.
If you could give an old boss one piece of advice, what would it be?
To be more systematic and to plan for the future. The business world is always changing, and we must stay updated with it in order to benefit our businesses.
If something were to happen to your business, what would be your backup plan?
I would try to generate more ideas on how to fix the problem and to work with each department’s manager to get back on track. We would take great measures and try to stay reasonable with them. I would encourage my staff to stay motivated and to have a positive thinking pattern.
What do you work toward in your free time?
I try to read more books and learn further from people who have more experience than I do. I also like to travel and meet new people who would have a positive impact on my life.
What did you want to be growing up?
How do you manage a large company and still find time for things like family?
After finishing work, I spend some time with my family at home. I also contact my friends and arrange some time to go out with them, especially on the weekends.
How do you relax and switch off from the office?
This is so important for your health and wellbeing. Make more time for personal interests, spend time with family and socialise with friends.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I work day-by-day and set a strict schedule so I can accomplish what I need. I speak to clients and staff in three countries and it can be a lot to manage but with my to do lists and pre-allocated slots for meetings it helps me structure my ‘typical day’.
Do you have any daily rituals that help prepare you for the day? (Examples include meditation, going to the gym, making breakfast, etc.)
I like to have breakfast and a coffee before leaving my house every morning as it is a great energy booster and it helps me in being more focused during work. I also make a list of my tasks every day to arrange my work and make sure that I am on track with it.
Finish this sentence, "the world would be a better place if only…."
The world would be a better place if only we all become more unprejudiced and accepting of each other, celebrating our differences, instead of looking at them as something that separates us. It is these differences that make us all unique, and in fact they unite us. The one thing that will hopefully get us there is awareness, knowing and acknowledging the other person’s story. This is what we aim to do at Austin Macauley Publishers. We try to achieve this by giving everyone an equal chance to share their stories, experiences, opinions, through books. We hope to publish more and more new voices, ultimately shaping our environment to be more liberal and inclusive.
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