Faces of Elsevier - Sarah Jenkins, Publishing Director

"....my team are 100% committed to getting the very best for their communities and it’s my role to support them to do this."

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  1. What was your background before becoming a Publishing Director?

    I graduated from the University of Canberra with a bachelor’s in applied sciences and I followed up with a year of work at Bankstown City Council in Australia in their strategy department. I then came over to Europe for some travel and haven’t quite managed to leave yet! I started at Elsevier in 2002 in health sciences. I have had a number of roles here and have gathered a lot of experience especially in the field of oncology. I now manage the mathematical and computer science portfolios. They’re super interesting communities with lots of tangible links to everyday issues.

  2. How would you describe a typical working day?

    There is no such thing as a “typical working day” around here. Generally, I find myself split between the internal and external. A large part of my role is managing my team and working with them to set a sound strategy for our journals, taking into account the needs of our communities and what we learn from them about their needs and drivers. I also find myself on the road quite a bit – an element of the job I really enjoy. This means getting out into our communities, attending board meetings with my Publishers and visiting institutions and conferences.

  3. How do you measure success in your work?

    As a large part of my role is people management, knowing that my team have the support from me that they need to develop and grow their portfolios successfully is something I care deeply about. Obviously, another element is the success of our journals and being confident that we are serving our communities well. There are various ways of measuring “success” and “satisfaction” but the kind of things that I look at include the scores from our feedback programmes as well as the formal performance indicators for journals such as manuscript submissions, usage and quality metrics such as CiteScore, the Impact Factor, SJR and SNIP.

  4. Do you have any particular advice for new editors?

    I am acutely aware from my experience of working with editors on many journals that they are faced with an information overload when taking up their new role. My advice, then, would be to make the most of the support that we can give you here. Elsevier’s been serving our communities for over 140 years and we’ve amassed a great deal of experience in doing so. At a practical level, this translates to a genuine invitation to reach out to your Publisher if ever you want more help, information or advice for dealing with your editorial work. Even if you think you have a really tricky question or scenario, ask us! We have a vast array of amazing interconnected tools and platforms, backed up by some world-class analytical firepower. Chances are, we can get you the answer you need!

  5. What is the most rewarding aspect of your work for you and what do you find difficult about the role?

    The most rewarding thing for me is working together with my team to publish a fantastic journal portfolio. Coming up with an idea, exploring the strategy carefully, then taking it to market (even if this takes a number of years – since publishing is a long-term game) and seeing it blossom – that’s what makes me proud. At the Publishing Director level, it’s more about the strategy at team level than individual journal management. Translating the needs of our communities onto a relevant and realistic strategy (and timeline) on the portfolio level is something that can’t be rushed. Embracing an idea and turning it into a commercially sound and sustainable solution for a community is a delicate task and I can’t say we always get this 100% right, of course – we’re only human after all. What I do know, though, is that all of my team are 100% committed to getting the very best for their communities and it’s my role to support them to do this.

  6. What is the most important attribute for being a PD?

    The ability to manage your time and to juggle many tasks at once!

  7. Name one item/tool/resource that you cannot do without in your role.

    My mobile phone! The way I like to interact with my team and the communities we serve is face-to-face, or at least on the phone. I personally find this is the most effective means of communicating and helps to cement rapport and preserve the human touch in an increasingly technology-driven world.

  8. How do you see your role changing (if at all) over the next few years?

    Publishing is in a constant state of flux, especially at the moment. My role, therefore is both to anchor the portfolios in a state of security but also to remain flexible, adaptable and agile enough to be able to continue growing and developing. If we can maintain our intellectual curiosity (and a good sense of humour!), I think we will be well-placed to do so.

  9. What would you be doing now if you were not a PD?

    In an ideal world, I’d be riding a bike somewhere in the sunshine! I feel I’ve only recently started in this role, though so I think I’ll leave the pedalling for the weekends for now at least!

  10. What is the most interesting/amusing/inspirational thing you’ve worked on as a PD?
    Even though I am relatively new to the role, I have been bowled over by the “can do” attitude of the team. Their energy and enthusiasm is amazing – and infectious. The creativity and adaptability they show in trying to meet the needs of their communities makes my job a lot easier (and makes me all the more determined to help them succeed). Everything we do at Elsevier is a partnership – whether between colleagues or for our customers and communities. I love being a part of it!



Written by

Sarah Jenkins

Written by

Sarah Jenkins

As the Publishing Director for mathematical and computer sciences, Sarah works with a team of nine Publishers in the US, China and Europe. Sarah is passionate about interdisciplinary research and enabling its dissemination across fields to facilitate scientific and medical advancements. This comes from her extensive experience in medical publishing where Sarah worked in oncology and saw, first-hand, new advances in clinical research and technology come together. Sarah has represented Elsevier on the Professional Development Committee of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) where she worked with colleagues across the learned publishing industry to organise seminars and workshops for fellow publishing professionals. Sarah has also represented Elsevier on the Committee of the Oxford Publishing Society (OPuS), which provides a forum for the discussion of current issues in learned and trade publishing. In her spare time, she's an avid cyclist as well as being a Girl Guiding leader.


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