Me and My Job: CLAIRE HARPER
1. What is your job title and company? And roughly how many people work for your company?
Manager, global rights and licensing at SAGE Publications. Globally, roughly 1,900 people work for SAGE.
2. What are your qualifications and working background, and when and how did you take on your current job?
I joined Nature Publishing Group in 2009 as an administrative assistant with just A-Level qualifications. I moved into an editorial assistant role before switching to permissions assistant in 2012. I worked up through Springer Nature to become permissions manager before moving to my current role at SAGE in November 2018.
3. What does your average working day entail?
Negotiating and managing relationships with licensing partners via email and meetings, managing our licensing team, liaising with internal and external stakeholders to make sure we are maximising our revenue and keeping track of developments in copyright and licensing through industry news.
4. What do you enjoy most about your job?
5. What achievements are you most proud of?
Exceeding our 2020 budgets by 10% despite the challenges we had with Covid.
6. What are your biggest challenges?
Not having a rights management system, which means we have to find contracts on a drive and keep records in Excel spreadsheets. There is always more work to be done to increase the level of understanding of licensing internally, and to demonstrate its role as a complement to direct sales.
7. What have you experienced in your job and publishing that you didn’t expect?
Many years ago I received a permission request to make a journal cover into wallpaper: that was unexpected!
8. What is the best thing about working for an independent publisher?
We know who all our shareholders and decision-makers are and can be confident that decisions are made for the long-term. SAGE’s independence is guaranteed in the long run, and that provides a sense of stability and security. At bigger companies there can be constant rumours about mergers and takeovers, which cause a lot of unease and uncertainty.
9. How much training or professional development have you had, and how has it helped you?
Early in my rights career I attended the ALPSP Understanding Copyright course, which I found really helpful: it gave me a base knowledge that I’ve build on as my career has progressed. I’ve taken a contract-drafting course that was helpful, and a year-long management training programme.
10. How do you switch off from your work?
Exercise, wine and a good TV show!
11. How have Covid and lockdowns impacted your rights work, your work-life balance and your general wellbeing?
The lockdowns didn’t impact on my ability to work so much. SAGE were really well set up for working from home, the transition was very easy technically and I was able to do all my work as before. However, I really missed the social side of an office, and all the kitchen conversations with people I don’t otherwise interact with on a day-to-day basis. I have found it hard to separate work from home life as I don’t have a dedicated office space, and I miss that feeling of leaving work for the weekend! I’m looking forward to a more hybrid way of working in the future.
12. What advice would you give anyone wanting to start or progress a career in rights?
Don’t be put off by job descriptions. Rights can sound complicated on paper, but everything can be learnt!