By Nicola Ramsey
2021 has been a significant year for Edinburgh University Press for lots of reasons. Timothy Wright, our Chief Exec of the last 24 years, retired in the summer after leading the business through much change and progress. I stepped into the role of CEO with the brief of delivering a business plan for the next three years. This will map out how we develop beyond our current vision – to publish the best academic books and journals that seek to promote understanding, stimulate debate and communicate scholarly ideas to the world – to become a more outward-looking publisher, thinking with ambition and working with partners to better serve our academic community, and create sustainable growth. A new vision, purpose and set of values are being developed to provide the framework for this plan.
When I became CEO I wanted to involve everyone at Edinburgh University Press in discussions about what our future should look like. I know what a strong team we have, and I felt it was important to draw on their experience, knowledge and expertise as we develop our plans. Over the first few months I took the opportunity to have a 1:1 with each member of staff – these sessions became a highlight in the week, and I learnt all sorts of new things about people ranging from those I have worked with for many years, to those I’d not yet met in person, due to them joining Edinburgh University Press during lockdown, and everyone in between.
I also thought it was important to talk about the kind of culture we want to create at Edinburgh University Press. Of course a culture is something we all have to live and show in our actions, but I wanted to start with an articulation of the kind of culture we think will work for Edinburgh University Press. The management team wrote a piece called ‘Building Edinburgh University Press’s Culture’ which outlined our commitment to creativity, communication, collaboration and community. We shared this with the rest of the team and brought them together in small, mixed groups to discuss what was proposed, and to put forward their ideas for what they want to see and how we achieve it. This is of course a work in progress, but it is important work, and I feel we are making progress.
Part of this progress has been the creation of a number of working groups, focusing on areas that are important to us: Equality, Diversity, Inclusion & Accessibility; Sustainability; and Digital Strategy. These are in addition to our established Core Values and Sports & Social groups, and together they show our commitment to ensuring that all staff have a voice, can contribute to the wider aims of the business (beyond their immediate roles) and have the opportunity to interact with colleagues out with the teams in which they work. Finding new ways to connect with one another has come to matter even more in this extended period of homeworking, and these groups make an important difference here as we work together towards defining and creating a new future for Edinburgh University Press.