3 Questions with MPub Alumni

3 QUESTIONS FOR MPUB ALUMNI

CRAIG RIGGS

partner at Turner-Riggs and founder of ReaderBound
MPub 1998/99

What was something you wish you had done differently while in school?
Take more courses outside of my focus area. Both of my degrees are very much in the “applied studies” vein (Bach Commerce, MPub). In hindsight, I wish I had explored more liberal arts or classical subjects during my undergrad program in particular. I have a lot of interests—in music, philosophy, even religious studies—that I missed the chance to explore during that time.

What was the most valuable skill you took away from your time in the MPub program?
An openness to – in fact, a keen interest in – critical feedback on my work.

What is 1 piece of advice you would give to current publishing students (this could be advice for publishing minors or MPub)?
Be passionately curious outside of your primary interests in publishing. If you are an editor, make friends with spreadsheets. If you are more marketing-inclined, learn how to really work with a manuscript. You will never regret it and the empathy and insights you’ll develop for other aspects of the publishing process will serve you extremely well.

GERILEE MCBRIDE

Advertising and Promotion Manager at UBC Press
Mpub 2006/07

What was something you wish you had done differently while in school?
I treated the MPub as an incubator environment and let myself be free to ask all the questions and participate in all the conversations. Regret is fantasy—this is a phrase I learned from my mentor, Margaret Reynolds (retired Executive Director of the ABPBC), and one that I’ve embraced wholeheartedly. You can always keep going forward, learning and improving, but you can never go back in time. Not yet anyway.

What was the most valuable skill you took away from your time in the MPub program?
Learning to view the publishing process through the many different lenses (design, editorial, production, acquisitions, business development, marketing, etc.) made me realize that publishing only happens with the understanding that every person/position is an important part of the whole. Oh, and make editors your best friends. I cannot recommend this enough. They almost always have the answers you need.

What is 1 piece of advice you would give to current publishing students (this could be advice for publishing minors or MPub)?
Ask all the questions, all the time. School is your opportunity to explore and experiment so don’t hold yourself back—it’s one of the few opportunities you get to be 100 percent optimistic.

PASCHAL SSEMAGANDA

Publishing Officer at the World Bank Group 
MPub 2006/07

What was something you wish you had done differently while in school?
One thing I wish I had done while at university is go on exchange, particularly during my undergrad. That is a great time to travel, meet new people, to grow in terms of cultural awareness and exposure. I’ve had some opportunities to travel personally and for work since school, but I think I would have matured faster had I done so back then.

What was the most valuable skill you took away from your time in the MPub program?
I learnt a great deal during my time in the MPub program. I learnt how to create and evaluate design for books, magazines, and the web, to edit, to create videos. But I think the most valuable skill I acquired was the ability to make compelling presentations. Those presentations in the first semester to industry leaders were more significant than I realized. Whether you stay in publishing or go into another industry, the ability to speak about your work in front of a group of strangers is an important skill. I recently had to make a presentation to our sales agents at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and I was at ease through the entire process. That would not have happened if I had not learnt how to present during the MPub.

What is 1 piece of advice you would give to current publishing students (this could be advice for publishing minors or MPub)?
As an international student I was already comfortable communicating with people of different backgrounds. However, the intensive group work in the MPub taught me how to work quickly and effectively with people from different backgrounds. I’d advise anyone taking the program to really pay attention to that aspect of the program and take that opportunity to truly understand how to work collaboratively. Since I graduated I have spent the majority of my career working with groups of people, some of whom are sometimes scattered around the world. I now understand that the best employees and team members are not always the most technically advanced. Most of the time, they tend to be the ones who know how to collaborate.

ALA SERAFIN

Editor, Digital Services at Canada Life
Mpub 2014/15

What was something you wish you had done differently while in school?
I wish I had taken more marketing classes in university, since I see now that sponsored content is the future of publishing (or at least I think so). There are an increasing number of lucrative opportunities in content marketing these days. I’ve experienced this first-hand as I transitioned my publishing career from editorial to marketing.

What was the most valuable skill you took away from your time in the MPub program?
For me, it was a tie between marketing and digital design skills (e.g. using Adobe CC, coding, branding, etc.). These were my greatest areas of development, since I entered the MPub program with years of editorial writing and editing experience.

What is 1 piece of advice you would give to current publishing students (this could be advice for publishing minors or MPub)?
Consider a future in content marketing. (I honestly love my job!)

The ‘3 Questions’ series was originally developed by MPub staff and alumni Monique Sherrett and published on the Publishing@SFU blog