Hall of Fame Portrait: Margery Mayer, Part 1

On November 29, 2012, AEP will induct Dr. Karen Billings, SIIA; Dick Casabonne, Casabonne Associates Inc.; and Margery Mayer, Scholastic Inc., into the Educational Publishing Hall of Fame. Here in her first installment, Margery Mayer, President of Scholastic Education for Scholastic Inc., discusses the person who had the greatest influence on her and the advice she would give to those choosing educational publishing as a career.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why?

Hands-down, Dick Robinson has had the greatest influence on my career.

I’ve had a fortunate history of bosses. Several have been world-class, including the late great Harry McQuillen and Pat Donaghy, and the very alive Will Pesce. But no one has guided and inspired me the way Dick has.

When people talk about Dick, they have many true and admirable things to say about him. They talk about his warmth, his lack of pretense, his sharp intelligence and, above all, his fantastic ability to adapt and grow Scholastic while staying true to the inherent values resonant in the brand.

What you don’t often hear about Dick is what a great publisher he is — truly the greatest publisher I have ever known. He knows and respects his customer, has deep personal experience that he draws upon, is willing to act courageously and has spot on judgment that can cut right to the quick of whether something is good or not. I think of this as his third eye, and I’ve relied on it. Throughout my career at Scholastic, I’ve tapped into Dick-as-Publisher at every turn, and he’s never steered me wrong. Indeed he has always put me on the right path and that was never more true than when I invited Dr. Ted Hasselbring to come up from Vanderbilt to show us his hand-made, HyperCard prototype for what would become READ 180®. I asked Dick to join us at our first meeting. He saw the potential right away, and with all of us sitting around the table, he told us to get cracking (ok, he probably didn’t say “get cracking”). Through READ 180’s development we ran content, software design, business planning and marketing by Dick at regular intervals. His “third eye” reflections can be seen and felt throughout READ 180 and are an incalculable part of the program’s success.

There’s much more I could say about how Dick has influenced my success, but I want to leave the focus on Dick as publisher. I can’t think of higher praise.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in educational publishing?

Stick with it. You’ll be glad you did.

It’s got a leg up on every other career. Like a career in fashion, there’s plenty of change so you won’t be bored. Like a career in science, there’s plenty to learn so your curiosity will always be on fire. Like a career in politics, there’s plenty of opportunity to push an agenda so you’ll hone your persuasion skills. Like a career in the arts, there’s plenty of room for your creative drive. Unlike a career in finance, you won’t get rich, but you’ll be proud to tell people about your work at a cocktail party, and your friends in finance will feel a twinge of envy. Trust me. I know.

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Margery Mayer, President of Scholastic Education and Executive Vice President of Scholastic Inc., oversees the product development, marketing and sales for the Scholastic Education division which includes Intervention, Education Technology and Services, Curriculum Publishing, and Professional Development, all of which serve school districts, teachers and children with high quality educational materials. Under Ms. Mayer’s leadership, Scholastic developed the premier reading intervention program READ 180® and its’ recent upgrade, READ 180 Next Generation®. Ms. Mayer is also leading Scholastic’s move into development of mathematics programs working with the leading math educator, Marilyn Burns, on her widely acclaimed math curriculum Do the Math™.

Read more about Margery Mayer and the Hall of Fame.

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