An Interview with Anna: 15 Year Work Anniversary!

This month Anna and Sarah are celebrating their 15 year anniversary working at Channel View/Multilingual Matters. In this post we ask Anna a few questions about the last 15 years…

What made you apply for your first job at MM?

I’d love to say that it was a burning desire to work in publishing and a long-held interest in multilingualism. However, the truth is that I finished my degree and knew I wanted to stay in Bristol, so I applied for every job in the local paper that I thought might be interested in an English and Philosophy graduate, including setting crosswords and training as an academic librarian. Multilingual Matters invited me for an interview, and the rest is history!

Anna on her first day

Do you remember your first day?

My first day was spent ‘celebrating’ the departure of my predecessor Berni, who had worked for Multilingual Matters for 17 years (such a long time!) I made a banner out of old printer paper, and then we went for a very nice lunch with plenty of wine. So not an especially taxing day, but quite a good introduction to the culture at MM.

How has your job changed over the years?

I started as an editorial assistant for the Multilingual Matters journals. The office was very paper-based at the time – we printed out everything – and emails came in once an hour. I can still remember the excitement of the day the internet was on all day for the first time! We used t-cards to keep track of what was where at every stage in the process, which involved scissors and Pritt Stick, and I did some typesetting using an MS-DOS program that was probably older than I was.

Gradually I managed to badger my way into being allowed to work on the books, and when we sold the journals and Marjukka retired in 2008 I took over as Editorial Director. Now I commission books for 12 book series, as well as overseeing the strategy for our whole publication programme, and keeping an eye out for new and exciting things for us to publish. I also attempt to make Tommi do his editorial admin occasionally!

While the nature of my job has changed quite a bit since I first started, I’m still working with a lot of the same authors and editors: Colin Baker, Viv Edwards and John Edwards have all been constants throughout my 15 years, and authors whose journal papers I worked on 15 years ago are now writing books and editing book series for us.

What has been your biggest achievement/success?

That’s a really hard question! The recent publication of the 6th edition of Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism represented the culmination of five years’ work and it’s a book I’m very proud of, although the authors are both such a dream to work with that my input was minimal. It’s always nice when books you’ve worked on win awards, or we publish something really ground-breaking and innovative. But actually what gives me the most satisfaction is the smaller, on-going successes: when I talk down an author who is on the point of giving up because of a critical peer-review and help them see a way through it; or when we’re overwhelmed at a conference by people wanting to tell us how great our books are and how important it is that we as a company continue to exist. I also love doing workshops/talks for PhD students and it always seems like a real success to get lots of follow up emails and book proposals as a result.

Anna and Sarah celebrating 15 glorious years at CVP/MM

What’s your favourite part of the job?

My favourite part of my job is my lovely colleagues, some of whom I have now known for a VERY LONG TIME. It’s an absolute joy to work in such a friendly, supportive office where all kinds of eccentricity are positively encouraged, and where the tangents go on for longer than the meetings. As with all groups of people who spend a lot of time together in a confined space, there are days when I could cheerfully murder the lot of them, but those days are few and far between. If they fired me I would probably keep on turning up for work anyway!

What’s your favourite memory (together?) of the last 15 years?

One evening in Frankfurt that may have involved a bottle or two of wine springs to mind, or a karaoke session in Leeds that got hijacked by an entire conference. To be fair there is never a dull moment sat next to Sarah! She once crushed a wine glass with her bare hands, her driving rage is terrifying, and she can run 100m faster than Usain Bolt if there’s a pigeon anywhere near her…

Here’s to the next 15 years! Check out Sarah’s interview here.

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