My Job in 5: Helen Bugler
Describe your role
I am lead publishing skills coach at LDN Apprenticeships. Following 30 years at Macmillan, latterly as Editorial Director for textbooks, I switched to coaching and I love it! I coach, mentor and support a rolling caseload of publishing apprentices. They are mostly new to the industry, while some are upskilling. I work to deepen and extend their knowledge and skills around their own job role, to understand other functions and publishing sectors, and to build commercial awareness.
What do you like most about your role?
It is fabulous to see apprentices develop their confidence and skills so rapidly. Apprentices are from hugely diverse backgrounds with many non-graduates and some non-conventional journeys behind them. Now that an increasing number of our apprentices (65+) are qualified and building their careers in the industry, it’s amazing and very rewarding to see them grow into new roles. We are told that our “graduates” can seem like they have two to three years’ experience in the industry already. That feels good!
Which new projects or titles are you working on at the moment?
A new version of the Publishing Assistant Apprenticeship Standard (or syllabus) is being developed by a panel of publishers, and I have been contributing ideas to the team. It will reflect the changing needs of the industry around, for example, sustainability. We are re-writing some of our online content to match this. As someone who has spent many years encouraging and supporting authors to develop learning resources, it’s a huge pleasure and a lot of fun to develop my own materials!
What skills do you need for your role?
I think you need a thorough understanding of and interest in publishing across functions and sectors, and to be prepared to quickly learn more! Our apprentices are in trade, education, academic and magazines, from Bloomsbury to Pearson to Elsevier and in editorial, production, ops, rights, sales and marketing. You need to be massively curious. Plus, you need patience, empathy, good humour, tons of energy and to enjoy the company of young people and building relationships with their line managers.
What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
The industry is a tough one to enter, and for young people without publishing experience, or perhaps without conventional qualifications, it can seem impossible. I’d say believe in what you can bring. The skills you need (communication, teamwork, attention to detail, dealing with people etc) can be shown in very many non-related areas. Be honest and clear about the great skills you have and show enthusiasm to build more quickly. Tailor your application closely to the advertisement. Keep persevering!