Publishing Executive Hall of Fame: Shona Burns—A Change Manager Who 'Didn’t Duck'
Shona Burns, upon entering college, was "bored rigid" with her business studies major. "I had met a couple of fellow students who were getting a publishing degree and found what they were talking about a lot more interesting …," she says.
Burns switched majors, and business studies' loss was forever publishing's gain. Through the ensuing decades, the initial enthusiasm she felt for publishing only grew, manifesting itself in accomplishments that have earned Burns the praise of her peers, a position as executive director of production at Chronicle Books and a place in the Publishing Executive Hall of Fame.
"Our industry has evolved and grown stronger because of her many contributions," says John Sabella, senior vice president of national sales at Lehigh Phoenix, who has worked with Burns frequently for many years.
A Change Manager
She also has embraced the technological developments that have transformed publishing.
"I've been very involved in a lot of change management at Chronicle," she says, having spearheaded management initiatives including the consolidation of three production departments into one and new approaches to product development. "We did a major project to determine whether this company is still innovating in a way that it should be in today's market," she says. The outcome of these and other initiatives was a major company reorganization.
"Whenever the subject of change management comes up, I think most managers duck. Very few have the courage to take it on. Shona didn't duck," says Michael Carabetta, creative director at Chronicle Books.
"I think the next big question for the industry is … how we figure out the supply chain in a way that allows us to not have so many returns and not have so much cost," says Burns.
The most immediate challenge affecting the industry, however, is the impact of short-run, digital printing, she observes.
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