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Publishing Director, Ladybird

We seek a creative and commercially-driven leader to take on a rare opportunity as our next Publishing Director for Ladybird. We’re looking for someone with excellent appreciation of the Children’s publishing landscape, proven experience as a truly empowering, inspiring and inclusive team lead, and with clear ambition for the continued success and growth of the Ladybird Trade & Licensing publishing business. Existing experience in book publishing is helpful, but not required.

As Publishing Director you will manage, develop, and build the strategy for our Trade and Licensing lists, working closely with Children’s MD to develop key strategic objectives and build profitable growth by enabling exceptional creative talent. Ladybird opens up new worlds and sparks learning, creativity and curiosity in children, and this role is about leading Ladybird into the future to help create and rediscover heroes for each new generation.

This position reports to the Children’s MD. We are happy to discuss part-time and flexible working options.

About Ladybird and Penguin Random House Children’s

Penguin Random House Children’s is the largest single division of all the eight publishing divisions in the company; we are the single biggest children’s publisher in the UK. Our mission is to publish books for every child. We want every child to feel empowered through reading our books to believe they can be anyone, do anything they aspire to achieve.

Penguin Random House Children’s think beyond the book, not just as a publisher, but also as a brand owner. Penguin Ventures business, which is part of Penguin Random House Children’s, licenses our owned-brands – Peter Rabbit, The Snowman and Spot – through consumer products and tv production to find new ways to tell the world’s favourite stories, to continue to reach new audiences for our characters.

Ladybird contributes between £20-23m of the division’s annual turnover of approx. £100m. Ladybird’s purpose today remains aligned with its founding principle 100 years ago: to create really good books for every child, to spark their imagination for the world around them.

Today, Ladybird makes growing up the best story ever. Ladybird publishes for children aged 0-7, from very first books for babies, to books that capture children’s curiosity as they become independent learners. Ladybird is one of the most trusted children’s brands, with 95% consumer recognition, and its role and success is in supporting young families with imagination and encouragement through the first milestones of a young child’s life.

Ladybird creates inclusive books that sell to the general consumer in the UK and worldwide, across novelty, picture books and non-fiction, from brands such as Ten Minutes to Bed (the bestselling bedtime series) and Baby Touch, a highly successful touch and feel series for the youngest babies; and critically acclaimed non-fiction such as My Skin, Your Skin and Everything Under the Sun, and Ben Rothery’s natural history classics.  Ladybird is also the leading preschool licensing publisher, with brands including Peppa, Bluey and Hey Duggee.

The Role:

  • Hire, manage and develop the best editorial talent in the children’s industry who will be focused on acquiring, creating and publishing the best children’s books and brands in the market for Ladybird’s audience, including novelty, picture books, and non-fiction, delivering to Ladybird’s mission to make growing up the best story ever.
  • Lead and inspire the editorial team to find and nurture brilliant creative partners, licensors, writers, experts, creating IP and generating commercial new ideas for the target market, with and without authors, licensors and agents.
  • Build on successes to establish new children’s brands; set the agenda for creative, consumer-focused, commercial publishing, establishing new children’s brands and bestsellers that sell widely in the UK and across our international territories, bestsellers that answer to consumers’ needs, inspire, set new directions and entertain.
  • Manage the existing strong portfolio of brands, to develop and ensure continued commercial publishing success.
  • Continue building on the strong international partnerships for Ladybird in rights territories, particularly the US, China and Europe.
  • Set the direction for the Ladybird consumer brand; have a strong and constantly curious understanding of Ladybird’s contemporary 0-7 consumer, their families, carers and development stages and use this to inform the publishing strategy.
  • Work in close partnership with the brand, marketing and publicity teams to ensure a playful, inclusive, consumer-focused conversation with Ladybird’s target consumer, to build the brand’s profile and reach.
  • Build an open, team-focused approach to acquiring and publishing, creating an editorial philosophy that embraces all.
  • Build close teams around each key title and with each editor owning and taking financial responsibility for that title/project/brand.
  • Lead by example in establishing and building excellent, open, trusting and collaborative partnerships with the art directors and their design teams, to ensure that the creative process end to end is a strong frictionless collaboration.
  • Work with the MD to develop a culture of success, excellence, high-performance, equity and inclusion; a positive culture that encourages honest, kind feedback with rigour, hard-work and fairness.
  • Model excellent, decisive decision making, an energetic, creative and inspiring manner, wise, warm management which involves setting challenging but achievable objectives for each member of the team.
  • Foster very close teamwork to ensure high levels of success and happiness across the division.

Candidate Profile:

  • An outstanding individual who has illustrated fantastic commercial children’s business skills – decisive, creative acquiring, energetic, inspiring and surprising publishing or other content across the children’s market, that has led to critical successes and hugely profitable content and creators.
  • This person must have exhibited great leadership – to have the ability to manage a team, hire well, retain key talent and to create a thriving and inclusive culture where creative, exciting, highly-talented editors will thrive.
  • Real commercial nous, have strong visual talent to understand the design partnership in Ladybird’s publishing, and driven by publishing the very best books, delivering successful books and meeting financial targets.
  • Highly experienced in children’s publishing or a related industry, understand the market, confident and creative in their ideas, with a good and constantly curious understanding of Ladybird’s target audience of 0-7.
  • Confident in setting direction, handling tough negotiations, developing close and strong professional relationships.
  • Exhibit wisdom, kindness and real emotional intelligence – able to listen, be sensitive but not be afraid to be honest and where needed have direct conversations.
  • Illustrate real creativity but marry that with an understanding of how to create processes or harness others to create processes that deliver books on schedule.
  • In working closely with the MD, provide support and be prepared to discuss ideas and strategies and challenge.
  • Act as a clear team player in collaboration with the Children’s senior leadership team, and senior marketing, publicity, design, production and sales colleagues; be prepared to foster close working relationships and use soft-influencing skills
  • Positive but resilient individual who can cope with setbacks and handle both success and failure with equanimity.
  • Inspiring, motivational and an excellent communicator who can sell a vision to creative partners, and internal and external teams; able to powerfully influence and be a strong advocate for their lists and the division as a whole.
  • Bring drive and boundless enthusiasm for children’s books, and our children’s audience, a mission to reach our young readers.
  • Top-level organisational skills – or at least be able to identify those in others and make use of them.

Direct reports: 3

Team size: c. 10

Please apply with your CV and cover letter addressed to Francesca Dow by midnight on Sunday 6th February.

What you can expect from us:

Competitive compensation in line with the Penguin Random House UK leadership pay approach.

Our employees are the heart of our business. We have a range of benefits to reflect our commitment to our employees, some of which are:
•    25 days paid holiday entitlement in year one (plus bank holidays), increasing a day each year up to 30 days
•    Medical cover
•    Life assurance
•    Cycle to Work scheme
•    Discounted gym membership
•    Generous pension scheme
•    Summer working hours (role dependent) 
•    Volunteering policy and charity matching
•    Employee Assistance programme
•    Mentoring programme
•    Extended gender neutral parental leave
•    60% Discount on Company books
•    Each site has trained mental health first aiders 
•    We plant a tree for every new employee to our business

Our creativity is inspired by different perspectives, so we want our culture to be one of belonging, where everyone feels welcome and where differences are celebrated.

As a Disability Confident Committed organisation, we’re part of the offer an interview scheme. This is where disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for the role can opt in to get to the next recruitment stage. There may be some situations where volume of applicants means we can’t take all eligible candidates to interview.

We want to make sure disabled applicants can be their best at each step of the recruitment journey. If you need adjustments during the application process, we encourage you to get in touch with us at

Remember, you only need to share what you are comfortable to for us to support your adjustment request. Find out more about our approach here:

We partner with The Book Trade Charity, who provide financial assistance for people looking to get into the publishing industry; you can find more information and talk directly here:

Please note, we are not able to accept agency CVs for this role. Any CVs sent speculatively will not be eligible for a fee.

Publishing Director, Ladybird

Full-time, Permanent
Administration, Editor, Publishing, Training, Management, Communications, Business Development, Editorial
Publishing Director, Ladybird
Salary description: 

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Highly experienced in children’s publishing or a related industry, understand the market, confident and creative in their ideas, with a good and constantly curious understanding of Ladybird’s target audience of 0-7