Alumni profile - Jade Tolley
I get to work with a wide range of brilliant, hugely successful authors. I've had the privilege of working on Elton John’s autobiography, which has definitely been a career highlight... In ten years' time I’d definitely like to see myself in a senior role within publishing, with lots more experiences to draw from, and even more brilliant books to work on!
What did you study at Queen Mary and what are you doing now? I studied BA English Literature and Linguistics (2011-2014), initially moving into a Marketing Assistant role at a children’s publishing house, and then into the Brand team at a large general book publisher. I joined the team as a Brand Executive in 2016, and am currently in the role of Senior Brand Executive at Pan Macmillan.
Can you describe what an average day in the life of ‘Senior Brand Executive at Pan Macmillan’ typically involves? A lot of my job involves day to day project management work on Pan Macmillan’s biggest author brands. This involves working with different teams across the business (e.g. Editorial, Sales, Marketing etc.), to ensure we are publishing each and every book as effectively as possible.
In addition to daily responsibilities, I also work on insight projects for a selection of authors. This is both qualitative and quantitative, and involves collecting, analysing and disseminating data across the business and also directly to authors and literary agents.
Why is it exciting to do what you do? My role is exciting as it’s so varied. Although I have core responsibilities, no day is the same, and there is always a new question to answer, or project to undertake.
I also get to work with a wide range of brilliant, hugely successful authors. I even had the privilege of working on Elton John’s autobiography, which has definitely been a career highlight!
Why did you choose to study at Queen Mary? I chose to study at Queen Mary as the School of English and Drama had a brilliant reputation and it offered a joint honours course (English Literature and Linguistics) that really appealed to my interests and career aspirations.
The fact it’s the largest campus university in London also gives it a really unique sense of community, which extends beyond the faculty you find yourself in.
How did your time and study at Queen Mary help your career and development? Alongside study there were lots of opportunities to discuss career aspirations. The Careers team gave great guidance through different talks and online resources, enabling you to pursue areas of interest through relevant work experience.
Is there any advice you would give to current students or recent graduates considering their career options? The best advice is to start early! Those three years at Queen Mary will fly by, and it’s never too soon to start thinking about where you want to go next. Even if this means deciding on what you definitely don’t want to do, it’s good to start considering your interests and ambitions early, so that you can make the most of your time. You have a lot of support at your fingertips, so make the most of it!
What was so special about your time at Queen Mary? What was so special were the brilliant people, both students and lecturers and seminar leaders, who I had the opportunity to work with. Being taught by leaders in your field of study is a huge privilege, and something to take full advantage of. I was fortunate enough to take a Psychoanalysis module with Jacqueline Rose, which was one of the most insightful parts of my degree.
Do you have any role models that you look up to, both inside and outside of your field? I’m very lucky to be somewhere where I’m surrounded by exceptional people. Everyone I work with has so much energy, knowledge and a genuine passion for what they do - it’s a brilliant environment to be in.
Where would you like to see yourself in ten years’ time? I’d definitely like to see myself in a senior role within publishing, with lots more experiences to draw from, and even more brilliant books to work on!
Do you have any favourite authors/books to recommend who/that you have discovered whilst working for Pan Macmillan? There are lots of titles that I feel really lucky to work on. I would really recommend Lucinda Riley’s Seven Sisters books, a brilliant historical fiction series following a group of adopted sisters as they embark on journeys of self-discovery. Each story follows a different sister, and takes you to different locations and time periods. Lucinda’s writing is incredibly vivid, and really brings you into the heart of each sister’s story.
For kids, I’d also really recommend the Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. The books follow Andy and Terry and their adventures in the world’s wackiest treehouse, balancing fun illustrations and text to immerse kids and get their imaginations going! It’s laugh-out-loud funny and a great way to get kids reading.