An interview with Simon Campbell

We asked Simon, TCS's Founder & MD, for his thoughts on publishing and ... holidays.

  • Subject:Education Publishing

  • Reading Time:5 minutes

What was your route into publishing?

Slightly tortuous! It was something I wanted to do even as a teenager – I mean, why else do an English degree?! But then I did a CELTA in the mid-90s, and spent the next six years teaching English in Japan, China, Indonesia and finally Hong Kong. It was there that I finally joined a publisher, starting to work for Pearson as an ELT editor.

How did The Content Station come to be?

The last few years I spent at a publisher in a Director role were quite, er, turbulent, with constant restructuring. So I made the (perhaps pre-emptive!) jump and started a publishing services company. I could see there was a real opportunity for us to use our skills to help publishers make that difficult transition to digital.

The Content Station is now (nearly) 5 years old. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself as you started out?

Obvious, really – hire people earlier. We now have a fantastic team of committed professionals – they can really add value to any client project, are a joy to work with, and it all makes my job so, so much easier.

What accomplishment at The Content Station are you most proud of?

Building a sustainable company means we can give back – both to our staff and to charitable causes. That’s what drives us to continue to grow because it means we can do these things. And that will always be our biggest accomplishment.

What’s the one thing you think people should know about the publishing sector?

A publishing company can be a wonderfully creative environment, but people need to remember that it’s still a business, and a tough one at that. Those who do well in this industry are those who are able to balance the creative and the commercial.

What do you predict for the future of the industry?

It’s been fascinating watching the education publishing industry grapple with digital content and technology. And while it’s scary to let go of successful business models, it’s also necessary if we’re going to make it work for all key stakeholders – students, teachers, parents, schools.

If you could learn to do anything in publishing, what would it be?

I’m seriously in awe of great designers – how they can turn that empty page or cover into something rich and extraordinary. I can see things in my mind but I just can’t translate that into reality – so I’d love to be able to learn some better design skills.

What is something you learned in the last week?

That I worry too much – but then I probably knew that! My daughter started ‘big’ school and I was a bag of nerves – but she was completely fine, of course, like ‘Dad, don’t worry, I got this’. And the same at the company – I was off sick for a few days, and was feeling anxious, but the team had it all figured out. So I really do need to chill out.

Where is the best place you’ve travelled to and why?

It’s not particularly exotic or anything, but I love traveling in the States. We’ve been on some epic road trips that have been mind-blowing – it’s such an amazing place. Have now visited 44 states and my family think I should probably do all 50 before I reach the same age, so I guess I’d better hurry up!

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