2010 Hall of Fame: Ken Brooks
"I was impressed with Ken's consulting and operational background," says Siegel of what stood out to him when hiring Brooks. "In addition, he had the experience of starting up and operating his own business. He had the technical abilities and industry knowledge, and when added to the variety of analytical and operation skills he developed in his work history, it made him the perfect candidate for the position I was looking to fill."
According to Brooks, the position at Cengage was an opportunity "to really revamp the way production is done in the education business," he says. "We took a bunch of different divisions and centralized all of the production activities."
"… Ken had ultimate responsibility to rethink and reorganize the way we did production and develop a market- responsive organization using the newest technologies with internal and external and on- and off-shore resources," says Siegel. "He took a fairly traditional book production process and built a highly efficient, automated when possible, process that includes and supports all media types, reducing costs, improving turnaround times and maintaining high-quality services."
A 'Maker of the Future'
Brooks cites one of his biggest and ongoing challenges as: "How do you create opportunities for folks who have spent their entire careers in print? How do you move them into digital? We've been doing that. We've been wrestling with that from the beginning."
He says that the key to that challenge is to reconceive the way employees view themselves. "The base skills of a good production manager in print are the same base skills that are needed in digital," Brooks notes. "The challenge that I've seen is that many [production] folks view themselves and get a lot of their self-worth from, 'I make beautiful books.' If you can … make that individual transition from 'I make beautiful books' to 'I help people learn' or 'I provide tools that help people learn,' it's a lot easier."