The company Seamanship International was founded as a training software provider but following the market demand, merged with Witherby in 2008 to introduce books to their portfolio. The company now publishes books and e-books for the shipping, insurance and energy sectors.
Witherby Publishing Group claims to be a small specialist publisher. After ten busy days working with them over the last 6 weeks I now must either revise the definition of a small publisher or assume they are too modest. The company that welcomed me onboard is in fact a niche global market publisher. They have their own sales platforms, and an e-reader designed in-house 10 years ago that is now a renowned standard tool for the maritime industry worldwide. They publish for many international bodies such as IMO – the United Nations International Maritime Organization, and many more institutions hidden behind now familiar to me acronyms such as SIGTTO and OCIMF. Thanks to the reputation gained over the years, the company is now the leader in their field. What’s more, they are a fantastic place to work and this year Witherby Publishing Group has won award as one of the Best Workplaces in Scotland.
During my time with Witherbys I was not only given tasks, but all the team members managed to find time to introduce me specifically to their work, department by department. Everyone was ready to answer my questions and share with me their passion for this technical publishing. I had a chance to assess new manuscripts, liaise with the author, synchronise the Style Sheet, prepare Request for Quotes forms for printers, write a précis, prepare copy for the website, learn how to create an e-book, check mark-ups, research content for an article, take part in a marketing meeting, go through the designers tasks, learn how to pre-flight a book before sending it to printers and how to prepare online banners. I read through the updated edition of a bestseller with the managing director and technical advisor, both former ship officers. I realised that all employees have different strengths and that is where the company’s success story lies. At Witherbys I also observed in practice the values that Stephen R. Covey describes in his bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: ‘When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.’
The most valuable lesson for me was to see what factors make a company successful. It was impressing to discover how proactive the company is, and the flexibility that it responds with to the market and resellers needs. It was an excellent opportunity in terms of industry insight and experience I gained.