3 questions with Perminder Mann, CEO of Bonnier Books UK

18th November 2020

UWE Bristol, in partnership with Business West, runs an annual lecture series that brings top business leaders to Bristol. We caught up with Perminder Mann, CEO of Bonnier Books UK before her virtual talk.

1. How would you describe the ‘authentic self’ and why is it important that we all bring it to work?

We are all individuals with backgrounds, experiences and views of our own. Working in a team of carbon-copy individuals, in my experience, is not the best route to success.

We need diversity. Not only diversity of backgrounds, but also diversity of thought and ideas.

As an employer, I feel a deep responsibility to build a workplace that creates an environment for people to succeed authentically as themselves. 

There have been moments in my career where I’ve felt a need to conform, to fit in, but this isn’t sustainable.

Our workplaces and society at large will only get richer if more of us manage to stay true to this ethos.

2. How can the publishing industry be a force for positive change within our society?

I feel that publishing plays a key role in our society and can be an important driver for social change.

Books are there to entertain, educate and inspire us.

It’s through stories that we can be transported into different worlds. Books can give us a better understanding of, and deeper empathy towards, other people.

They can help us be more accepting and inclusive, ultimately breaking down barriers and divisions.

The publishing industry, therefore, has a responsibility to ensure that we are representing all readers in our books.

We’ve come a long way in ensuring our books are more inclusive and reflective of society, although it’s clear we still have some way to go.

3. What advice would you give to anyone looking to forge a career in publishing?

Publishing is a business and people often focus first on the creative/editorial career paths within it.

While these can be incredibly fulfilling and valuable roles, my first piece of advice is that there are many other routes to investigate.

Those creatives amongst you might want to consider how your skills could be utilised in other departments such as marketing and PR teams.

I can also recommend a career in publishing sales, and we of course need fantastic people in our finance, HR and production teams.

It’s also worth remembering that the importance of digital and audio is only going to increase, which in turn will increase demand for people with these skills and interests.

I’d also like to stress the importance of social media skills. There isn’t a job in our industry where this doesn’t touch in some way or another.

And so, having a deep understanding of how the platforms and communities work is a big advantage.

Skills that, I imagine, many of you have in bucketloads. 

I’d encourage anyone wanting to get into the publishing industry to apply for internships – paid of course – across different departments, so that you can get a feel of the roles available to you.

And, finally, I strongly encourage you to be curious. Ask questions and put your true self out there. We are looking for diversity in our industry.

Diversity of thought, experience and background. So, don’t be afraid to jump in. 

This series of free public lectures brings top level business leaders to Bristol. You can discuss these events on Twitter using the hashtag #BristolLectures. For more information please contact events@uwe.ac.uk.

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