New Skill Sets

Capabilities publishers don’t have and how they’re developing them

Although the degree to which content companies must become technology companies is debatable (and debated), there is no doubt that a wide variety of tech skills that could live in the background or an IT department in the past are needed for product creation, marketing, and even sales today. And the old serial hand-off process by which books were made and sold, going from author to agent to editor to design to manufacturing to marketing to sales, doesn’t make sense in a digital world when the shaping of the book can come from anywhere and the marketing might begin at any moment after conception.

To discuss this topic, we have convened a panel of three executives who bring a perspective honed outside of publishing to their publishing work. Jacks Thomas, the CEO of Midas Public Relations, often handles marketing projects that require digital skills her publisher clients haven’t yet developed. And to execute them, she often hires marketers with no prior publishing experience at all. Charlie Redmayne of HarperCollins and Juan Lopez-Valcarcel of Pearson both came to their positions as digital heads of major houses from outside the publishing industry. They have a fresh perspective on what publishers need that they don’t have and recent experience in how to provide it. The panel is moderated by Jo Howard of Mosaic Search & Selection Ltd, a leading executive recruiter for the publishing industry.


Jo Howard
Publishing Search Consultant, Mosaic Search & Selection

Jo specialises in executive search in publishing and media and also runs a consulting practice in leadership development and executive coaching. Earlier in her career she led strategy development for W H Smith Retail and was previously with Waterstone’s as commercial director and supply chain director. Until recently, Jo chaired the Book Marketing Society, was formerly chair of World Book Day and a non-executive director of Bertrams.


Juan Lopez-Valcarcel
Director Digital Product & Consumer Technology, Pearson

Juan Lopez-Valcarcel leads mobile and tablet product development across Pearson and is responsible for business development with consumer technology companies. Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, home to the Financial Times Group, Penguin Books and the world’s largest education business.

Juan has 15 years of international experience as an entrepreneur, manager and advisor to digital media and telecom companies. He started his career by launching one of the first Internet portals in Spain. Most recently, Juan was VP Digital Media at NBC Universal in New York and Engagement Manager at strategy consulting firm Booz Allen, where he worked on more than 40 digital and venture capital projects.

Charlie Redmayne
Executive Vice President, Chief Digital Officer, HarperCollins Publishers

Charlie Redmayne is the Executive Vice President, Chief Digital Officer of HarperCollins, a subsidiary of News Corporation. He is responsible for the overall strategy, development and management of all digital initiatives aimed directly at the consumer across all of HarperCollins divisions. He reports to Brian Murray, President and Chief Executive Officer of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide, and sits on the company’s executive committee. He was appointed to this newly created position in October, 2009.

Jacks Thomas
CEO, Midas Public Relations

Jacks Thomas has worked in the corporate and arts public relations sectors for over 20 years, joining Midas as a full partner in 2004. A corporate communications and damage limitation specialist, Jacks runs the corporate division at Midas, in addition to new business development initiatives. She has also successfully introduced a growing number of international clients to the company.