Newspaper article International New York Times

Working Well on a Team in Order to Stand Out

Newspaper article International New York Times

Working Well on a Team in Order to Stand Out

Article excerpt

Gina Centrello is president and publisher of the Random House Publishing Group.

Gina Centrello is president and publisher of the Random House Publishing Group.

Q. Were you in leadership roles growing up?

A.No. I was pretty shy as a kid. I grew up in a very middle- class home. My dad was a really hard-working guy. He got up at 5 every morning and worked seven days a week as a conductor on the railroad. My mom was a really gutsy lady. She was born in Marseille, France; she came here in her early 20s and didn't speak English. She taught herself by reading, and improved her vocabulary by doing crossword puzzles. Reading was always a big deal for us -- "If you want to do well, read."

Q. What about your career plans in college?

A.I was going to be a teacher, but there were really no teaching jobs at that point. I just fell into publishing -- I wrote a bunch of query letters, and I was hired to be a proofreader at a textbook company. Then Pocket Books hired me as a copy editor. Ten years later, I ran the company.

Q. How did you make that happen?

I was just very curious. It's an interesting industry; I did a variety of jobs and I was fortunate to work for a lot of smart people. It's a mentorship business -- there's no manual on how to become a publisher. I wasn't even sure I wanted to be a publisher, but when I saw the pieces come together as managing editor, I thought, "This is an amazing business to be in, because you're dealing with such interesting people." Authors are fascinating people, and as a publisher, your job is to make their work public. You're kind of like the backup singer for them.

I was also hard-working from the start. People often just want an answer to something, and there are so many things that fall between departments. So you try to become the person who can answer those questions. That's what publishing is; there are a ton of details to make it work. And that's why the team is so important, because each executive, in each area, owns their piece of it in a way that no one else can. My job now is to choreograph.

Q. Can you talk more about seeking out mentors?

A.It wasn't a conscious thing. I always wanted to learn something different, and people love to tell you what they do. They love to share their passion. It's great when people come to you for the answers; it makes you feel important, and you feel like you're contributing something to the greater process. And whenever I finished a task they had given me, I would ask for another one.

Q. You obviously had a lot of drive. Where does that come from?

A.If I wanted to be successful, I needed to earn it, because that's the only way I was going to get it. I also get a lot of energy from working with really smart people, and I'm acutely aware of what I know and really aware of what I don't know. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.