by Mike Groth
This week begins the latest edition of the KGL PubFactory Virtual Series user group meeting, bringing the scholarly publishing community together to share lessons learned, new platform developments, and industry insights. To mark the occasion, we welcome PubFactory’s new UK-based Senior Project Manager, Merryn Smit to the team, following her time in digital content and production roles at Oxford University Press and Taylor & Francis. I spoke to her recently about moving from the publisher to vendor side, challenges publishers face with digital content, and embracing change.
MG: Welcome to KGL! Tell us a bit about your new role at PubFactory and what you hope to accomplish.
I’ve joined the team as a Senior Project Manager, so I’ll be learning the PubFactory ropes through management of several client accounts. My focus is very much on data, so I’ll be looking for opportunities to build my understanding of current processes with a view of introducing new workflows and improvements where possible. I’m joining a well-established and very knowledgeable team, so I’m hoping that I can learn from my colleagues while using my experience to contribute to the changes and developments that are taking place.
MG: What inspired you to take the leap from publisher to the vendor side?
MS: I enjoyed the variation of moving between roles on the publisher side and was able to experience positions where I focused on platform, content, and overarching processes. In all publishing roles, I have worked closely with vendors and platform suppliers, and it seemed like a logical next step for me to build on my experience with this move. By transitioning to the vendor side, I’m in direct contact with a range of publishers, all with a differing set of content needs, which gives me a different and useful insight into the challenges being faced by both sides.
MG: How will your experience working for different publishers inform your work managing platform implementations?
MS: On the publisher side, I have previously worked on content migrations, platform migrations, journal transfers and the related stakeholder management. In my most recent position, I was focused on ensuring the ongoing quality and development of digital content; defining and implementing standards and procedures to address business and client needs. It’s great when this work goes smoothly but there are invariably complications and unknowns that surface during transitions, migrations and while digging into content requirements. My experience of these issues and the common pain points from the publisher side will help me to provide guidance and support on various elements of platform implementations, while the insight I’ve gained from my previous roles supports the building of collaborative and productive relationships with our clients.
MG: What excites you about joining KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd. and PubFactory?
MS: Publishers have varied needs when it comes to their platforms and data, but there is a universal pressure to make content accessible and discoverable as quickly as possible, in a variety of formats and in ways that are appealing and user friendly. There are opportunities for me to develop the existing data workflows and work on a close alignment between content services and the platform. I’m looking forward to finding ways of streamlining the delivery of high-quality content to the front-end and supporting our clients in achieving this. These developments, coupled with flexibility of the platform and the desire within the teams to embrace change makes this a very exciting move for me.
MG: What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not helping publishers deliver digital content?
MS: I have two small children; spare time is not something I have much of these days! I’m lucky enough to live in the countryside and enjoy being outside as much as possible, so getting out into the woods and fields is my way to unwind. I enjoy messing about in mud and streams almost as much as my kids. I’ve previously enjoyed quite a bit of traveling, so will hopefully be looking to take a few more trips abroad as it becomes more possible to do so.
Merryn Smit has spent the last 14 years working in eProduction, project management, and digital content delivery for Oxford University Press and Taylor & Francis Group, before joining KGL PubFactory this year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.