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Want an insider’s look into what it’s like to work for one of the world’s leading education technology companies? We’ve got you covered. In our Extraordinary Employee series, ProQuest dives into the lives of our colleagues, asking them how they joined ProQuest, what they do, and what makes ProQuest such a unique and rewarding place to work.

Today, we interviewed Aine Rice, Sales Director for ProQuest Books, EMEAI.

What do you do at ProQuest?
I am the Sales Director for ProQuest Books, covering EMEAI.

Why is the work you do so important to our customers?
This question makes me very passionate about explaining why I’ve remained with ProQuest for more than ten years. Bringing the world of books to academic libraries makes me feel that I am part of a centuries-long supply chain, but at the same time the increasing library engagement with ebooks and how those business models are emerging makes me feel like I can contribute to the future. A significant part of my role is as a conduit between the customer and the Product Team. I like to think that my passion for the ProQuest Books offering is important to our customers so they can see we are striving to bring them the best supplier offering we possibly can whilst listening to their feedback about future driven improvements. So often a product or feature enhancement is suggested by a library customer and I feel really lucky that it is part of my job to bring that feedback to the Product Team at ProQuest and often to see those enhancements brought to life.

What’s your professional background – anything interesting or unique to share?
I qualified as a Librarian from University College Dublin having completed my BA in Trinity College Dublin. I worked in libraries for a few years before deciding to transition to the vendor side of the industry. In various roles during my career as a library vendor, I’ve covered diverse markets such as ANZ, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

What motivated you to get into your current field?
I was drawn to the library world during my time at university and I was excited when we began to see the emergence of online resources. When I worked in the library, I seemed to be the team member asked to help with microfiches, microfilms, and CD-ROMs and the early days of online database searching. I saw an opportunity to specialize in that area and so I transitioned to digital sales to libraries early in my career. You could say my career motivation was to be part of the digital migration trend that was developing in the mid-90s. In hindsight, it’s amusing that we still talk today as being in a print to e transition – it has taken a while! COVID-19 has been the biggest accelerator by far for the print to ebook shift. I am really curious to see how the two formats will coexist in the medium- and longer-term future. I am glad that my motivations at the beginning of my career remain a central part of my day-to-day work at ProQuest.

What brought you to ProQuest? What’s one thing that surprised you about working here?
I liked the friendliness of the team as I met them at various conferences and then during the recruitment process. Most library vendors have their fair share of pretty smart people in my experience but at ProQuest it surprises me that a lot of smart people are long-timers showing that they continue to be challenged and satisfied in their roles over many years.

What do you like about working here – both the job itself and the rewards/benefits?
Something I like about ProQuest is that during my time here we’ve gone through many business modalities. There were a number of years when ProQuest was a very acquisition-driven company buying companies such as ebrary, EBL, Coutts, and Ex Libris to name a few. We then entered an integration phase of bringing those companies offerings together which brought some work pace and cultural changes. It’s exciting to see the cross-departmental efforts come to fruition now with the likes of PQ1A and TDM Studio. As part of the Books Sales unit, I like that this role is bringing workflow acquisition efficiencies to libraries with Rialto, another example of cross-company development. I see that as very rewarding as it feels like we are completing the circle for libraries.

What are your ultimate career aspirations?
There has been a lot of change for me at ProQuest in 10 years. There is something to be said for drawing breath and just being content where you are for a period of time. There is always room for learning and improving in the present. My philosophy is that if the moment is right to refocus and move, it will present itself.

What other fun and interesting things do you enjoy doing? Have you found anyone at ProQuest that shares your interest?
Predictably enough for someone in Books Sales, I like to read, mostly fiction, sometimes on my Kindle but I still love buying a print book and leafing through the pages. Also predictable is that some colleagues share this interest, so we started a virtual Book Club and it is really enjoyable to communicate with each on extracurricular topics. No chasing forecasts for the 60 minutes in question!

I like Hot Yoga and because Bikram is a standard set of yoga poses even with almost identical verbal cues from the instructor no matter where you are in the world, it is fun to find a Bikram studio in a strange city and feel somewhere familiar for 90 minutes. It’s torturous though!