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My Year on the SYP Committee

It’s (somehow) nearly December and over here at SYP HQ we’re already planning and preparing for 2018. Applications for next year’s committee are now open, so we sat down with Ain-Deheb Bensenouci, one of our London Events Coordinators, to ask her all about what being part of the SYP team is like.

Hi Ain, thanks so much for joining us. Please tell us a bit about yourself – your current job, hobbies,… a fun fact about yourself.

I’ve just joined Oxford University Press as the Academic Partnerships Executive for Epigeum. My job is the perfect mix of sales and events: I get to work with customers as well as manage events across the UK & Ireland. Apart from books, my spare time is filled with delicious food, travels and friends. Fun fact: I am terrified of butterflies!

 

How did you get started in publishing and what made you consider publishing as a career?

When I was a kid, I had two big passions: event planning and books. The first of these was seen as a hobby for rich people where I grew up, so I decided to focus on my love for literature. When I was 21 I moved to the UK to learn the language and I volunteered in my first ever bookish job for Healthy Planet on the 'Books for Free’ project. I knew that I wanted a meaningful job and I see books as a way to contribute to society. My first publishing job was with Ubiquity Press, where I had the chance to work with some incredible people who, to this day, have inspired my career and progression. Publishing has never felt like a career, more a vocation.

 

What made you consider joining the committee and why as an Events Coordinator?

I wanted to be a part of something that would give me the chance to help others get their foot in the door, as well as help me to progress professionally. I was working at Penguin Random House, which gave me great connections and I was eager to take my networking even further. The Events Coordinator role felt like the perfect fit for me, and it was! Having the opportunity to combine my two biggest passions with meeting fantastic new people has been amazing.

Last year I also made up my mind that since my first dream of getting into publishing was now a reality, I wanted to find a way to integrate my passion for events into my day job. The SYP was a great way to build my skills in this area and to push myself out of my comfort zone.

 

Can you talk a bit about your experience of being on the committee? What does your role entail?

Being on the committee is fantastic! I remember meeting Louise and Zoe at this year’s AGM, when I officially joined and they welcomed me like family. We all gather once a month and we talk about upcoming events, projects and partnerships. Everyone contributes and everyone is listened to. As we all come from different backgrounds and companies, it's great to hear how varied the industry is and I constantly learn new things from everyone I work with.

As an Events Coordinator I work with the London Events team to not only organise our events, but also to decide which topics we want to build our events around. We usually discuss what's hot in publishing and what our members and fellow publishers may enjoy. This year we've had the chance to also listen to our members through our UK-wide member survey, which has helped us to identify new areas in which we could focus our efforts.

With the guidance of our Head of Events, Zoe Portway, we split the responsibilities amongst the team. We book venues, contact publishers and professionals to come and speak at our events. I have also had the chance to chair our event ‘How to Assert yourself in Publishing’ in May. Ultimately our members are always at the heart of what we do and it is great to meet them at our socials.

 

Has there been an experience that stood out for you over the year?

I think the best moment throughout the year has been when one of our members came to tell me how much we had helped him. To me, people are everything. Whether it’s authors, readers or fellow publishers –  the industry revolves around people. And to know that we are helping making a difference for the better is the best feeling ever.

 

Has your SYP work benefited you professionally or has it helped you develop personally? 

It has indeed. Earlier this year I decided to take the next step in my career and the work that I have done with the SYP has benefitted me incredibly. In every single interview that I had, I got asked about my role as Events Coordinator. Not only that, but through my role, I have become better at networking, time management and team work. Being in a full time job and volunteering can be hard, but it all pays off. People notice.

 

Do you have any advice for anyone considering joining the committee in 2018?

Just go for it! It’s a brilliant way to build your skills and network. And moreover I once was told that, when you can, you should try to give something back. The SYP committee is made up of hard working and passionate individuals, who give up their time to shape the publishing industry for the better. Come join us in 2018!

 

You can find Ain on Twitter @BookCrumble

If this has piqued your interest and you’d like to join one of our local branch committees* in London, Oxford, the North, or Ireland, or become part of our UK committee, you can apply now via our website, where you will also find a full list of available roles. For more information, click here.

*Please note that Scotland committee applications will open in Spring 2018.