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Meet our people: Calliste Lelliot
15 August 2019
Calliste is Head of Platforms and Content Operations for our Oxford Education division
Tell us how you came to work at OUP
My background is in media production. After graduating with a degree in film and video, I worked for various charities in London, including Friends of the Earth, where I oversaw their videos and photos for the magazine, website. After a while, I decided I wanted to do work in a different sector, and saw an opportunity to get into publishing by starting a six-month contract with Pearson in a similar role. It meant moving to Oxford, which I thought would be temporary but I loved it and never left. I did various roles at Pearson and that’s when I started managing people and teams.
After Pearson I spent some time at a digital agency, focusing on project management for building websites and apps, as well as managing other project managers. When I left there, I felt like I had two options—either pursue project management, or focus on team management. I chose the latter when I moved to OUP to manage the digital production team—a team of eight—in the Oxford Education division. I had heard that OUP was a good place to work, but what really drew me here was the mission. We’re not working for shareholders; we put money back into education and back into the University, so it sits well with my conscience and matches my values.
Tell us about your current role
I came into my current role because a job came up internally to head up the Platform Management team. When I was successful in the interview process, they decided to merge my old team and my new team. I now manage a team of 15, which is responsible for the revenue-generating platforms within Oxford Education. We build content, manage the data that sits behind the platforms, and of course make sure that they are stable, secure, and working effectively. We also run regular forums where we discuss ideas, features, and issues with different platforms, so that together we can decide what enhancements to develop. It means we’re continuously improving products for our customers. On the content side, we work closely with editorial and publishing teams to plan and build the content that sits on our platforms.
Apart from the technical side of my job, I also see myself as a mentor and coach to my team and others in the organization. I want to help people in becoming more self-sufficient and to find the path that’s right for them. Many people in my team have gone on to find other exciting roles within OUP and I encourage this wholeheartedly.
What opportunities have you had to develop your skills during your time at OUP?
The Press is very good at training managers, and we have programmes that are tailored to OUP’s approach to management. I also had the chance to take part in a Coaching Excellence course. It’s particularly important to continually upskill and learn in digital and technology, as the industry evolves so quickly. In our division, we have ‘meeting-free Fridays,’ so my manager—who is really supportive of my development—encourages me to use some of this time to focus on learning.
What do you like most about working for OUP? What inspires you?
The people. Everyone is really friendly, and there’s a level of respect, courtesy, and general acceptance that’s unlike anywhere I’ve worked before. Because we’re a large organization, sometimes things can be slower—especially compared to what it was like when I worked in an agency—but we’re working together to get better. It helps that everyone is so supportive and focused on our achieving our mission. I also really appreciate the quality of life. It’s probably the first place I’ve worked which genuinely supports flexible working.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about applying for a role with OUP?
Publishing—and OUP—can seem impenetrable but don’t be put off. You may think that to work here you need to be academic or have certain qualifications. You may think you need to be wordy or bookish. You really don’t. You need expertise in your area, but your academic background doesn’t matter. It’s about your experience and what you can bring to the organization. It’s about your attitude, enthusiasm, and skills. I always look for potential in people, not just that they tick every job criteria.
We need people from other industries, and people who are tech savvy. A lot of people think publishing is just about books, but it’s so much broader than that. We’re dealing with interactive services, data, and running educational platforms. It’s all part of an ongoing transformation which is only going to continue.
What advice would you give to someone within OUP, who is thinking about what their next step could be within OUP?
Get a mentor or a coach to help you explore the different options that are available to you. It can really help you to figure out your transferrable skills, to see how they could be applied elsewhere. Also, don’t be afraid to ask what training is available and proactively take steps to find out about different opportunities across the Press.
Is there anything that has surprised you about working at OUP?
The building in Oxford. It is so huge, I was petrified of getting lost somewhere! There are so many secret back routes, that when you first start it’s a bit terrifying. But there’s also a sense of accomplishment when you figure it all out—although I’m still discovering new places even after four years.