Spotlight on Dr Nicky Platt, Publishing Director, IOE Press, UCL Institute of Education
25 March 2015
This week the spotlight is on Dr Nicky Platt, Publishing Director, IOE Press, UCL Institute of Education.
What is your role and what does it involve?
I'm the Publishing Director of IOE Press, which is a fairly small but very noisy academic press based here at UCL IOE. IOE Press was established around 20 years ago, and has expanded rapidly in the last few years, particularly with its acquisition of the award-winning publishers, Trentham Books. Our job is to promote the mission of UCL IOE: to pursue excellence in research and practice, and to champion the cause of social justice and inclusive education. We publish the writing of practitioners and academics from across the globe, enabling them to reach the widest possible audience with work that makes a real contribution to the fields of education, social science and the humanities. IOE Press now attracts some of the best-known names within these disciplines and has become a well-respected brand with growing impact.
Day to day, it's my job to facilitate this growth, which isn't difficult given the energy, skills and commitment of the team I lead.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I joined IOE Press last May, and am finally through my probation period. (Or at least I think I am.) Before that, I have worked both as an academic, teaching English Literature at Birkbeck, Oxford and Reading, and in publishing, for a few companies, but most recently as the Publisher for Garnet Education. Garnet is owned and run from Beirut, with its publishing headquarters in Reading, and as Publisher I worked with many schools, universities and Ministries across the world, but especially in Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and the Gulf. I left after five years, having decided I wasn't always happy with what commercial education groups can offer in these complex situations. However, I am acutely aware of how privileged I am to have had this experience. And it breaks my heart to watch what's happening to a generation of children and young people across so much of the Middle East, and to some closer to home.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
I'm not sure I think like that … I'm never real proud of what I've 'achieved' at work - more just profoundly grateful to have got away with things. The older I get, the more I realize that that's the real prize - to start off bluffing your way through, and at the end realize you've actually learned how to do it. I am very proud, though, of landing a job here and getting to work with some amazing, clever, funny and generous people.
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list
Alongside our academic publishing, we're working with a fantastic team of IOE subject experts, led by Professors David Lambert and Candia Morgan, on a long-term project to help a school-system overseas develop its own series of textbooks - and in an effort to reform teaching and learning in that country. This is very similar to the work I used to do in my previous publishing role, but with a couple of crucial differences: this isn't about shareholders, and we don't need to buy in 'educational consultants' - we have the best right here. The deadlines, though, are completely familiar - and crazy.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
Films - honestly? I hardly ever watch anything without falling asleep halfway through (which really annoys my husband, for some reason), although I made it to the end of The Croods. Definitely nothing with subtitles - I just proofread them.
Novels - that's really hard - Jazz by Toni Morrison, The Bell by Iris Murdoch, pretty much anything by Colm Toibin, Woolf, Faulks, Mantel.
Music - even harder - Mahler 2, Allegri Miserere, Jenkins Stabat Mater, Billie Holiday, Midlake The Courage of Others, Snow Patrol …
What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?
I don't do pre-watershed.
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
People with cast-iron stomachs - I'm a terrible cook - so I guess that would be Ray Mears and Bear Grylls. But obviously I'd just narrow it down to Bear Grylls …
What advice would you give your younger self?
Stop banging on about how much work you've got to do - just do it.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
Probably nothing - which is worrying … I tend to share everything, whether people want to hear it or not.
What is your favourite place?
Wherever my kids are.