Meet the Aries Team: Sally Ubnoske, Senior Business Systems Analyst

For this month’s Aries staff interview, we sat down with Sally Ubnoske, Senior Business Systems Analyst. Read our interview with Sally to learn more about her responsibilities as a Product Lead, the cross-organizational standard projects she contributes to, and how the Aries Product Management team works together.

Tell us a little about yourself – how long have you been working for Aries? What did you do before joining Aries?

I’ve been with Aries for a little more than 12 years. My early career was spent as a Systems Engineer and then a Sales Representative for IBM. I took some time off to focus on raising my children and returned to full-time work in 2008.

What have your roles at Aries been?

I joined Aries as an Account Coordinator in January of 2008, and Jennifer Fleet was my first manager. After two years as an Account Coordinator in the Client Services department, I joined the Product Management group, where my current title is Senior Business Systems Analyst. 

My work tends to focus on standards adoption and implementation in the areas of open access, the Open Funder Registry, and inter-system submission transfer. 

Recently, I have been involved with a cross-industry initiative to develop a standard approach to manuscript transfer that can be adopted across the scholarly publishing industry. This project is known as the Manuscript Exchange Common Approach (MECA) initiative. The original group, consisting of representatives from competitive submission systems, submitted an application to the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) to form a Working Group to develop a Recommended Practice. The Working Group was announced in May 2018 and the group has been meeting regularly to review the use cases, transmission method, packaging, and DTDs. We hope to release the Recommended Practice very soon.

I have also been involved in integrations with third-party systems for open access processing.

How have your previous roles helped you in your current position?

Working as an Aries Account Coordinator really provided a lot of insight into the many different workflows used by EM publications. This experience has been invaluable in understanding customer requirements and designing ways to enhance Editorial Manager® to meet their needs.

My work as a systems engineer helps me to understand some of the challenges involved in making the various components of a system work together.

How do you stay up-to-date with customer needs?

The best way to understand customer needs is to talk to customers! I appreciate the opportunity to meet with customers directly, especially at Aries user group meetings (EMUG and EEMUG), to understand their requirements and determine the best way to solve their business problems in EM. I also attend various industry conferences to stay on top of developing trends and standards.

Tell me about your department and the people you work most closely with.

I report to Tony Alves, Director of Product Management. PM was recently organized into four different product areas and I am one of the Product Leads for EM. The Product Management department has a very cooperative and collaborative working style. We share ideas, debate possible solutions, and review one another’s functional specifications in an iterative fashion. 

This collaboration really helps each of us ensure that we are addressing areas of the system that may be affected by the changes we are proposing and keeps us all in the loop on upcoming enhancements. I really rely on my teammates and appreciate the contributions that each member makes.

Describe your typical workday.

Every day is a new adventure in Product Management! I seem to have a lot of meetings, especially first thing in the morning. I often try to check email at home to make sure there aren’t any urgent items to address when I first get to the office. When my meetings are concluded, I handle emails and tasks that have come up. 

Then I work on longer-term projects and functional specifications. Being able to focus on a complex task is a nice contrast to attending meetings. There are many casual interactions throughout the day with people from other departments, e.g. Engineering, QA, Client Services and Sales. Having all departments in the same building really helps us to work together.

What do you most enjoy about your job?

I really like designing solutions in EM/PM to meet customer needs. I enjoy understanding the complexities of workflow, which I think is the most important aspect of the system. I also like understanding the technical aspects of the system, especially the database. It’s very interesting to push a submission through EM workflow and observe the database changes along the way.

Probably the best part of my job is getting to work with great people from every department!

What are you currently reading, listening to, or watching?

This might seem strange, but I often read more than one book at the same time. Currently, I’m reading Dragonfly by Leila Meacham and re-reading The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov, which I last read as a teenager. I was lucky to find a paperback version of the first three foundation novels at a used book store, which seemed like a much better idea than hunting up the individual novels in my basement. Reading multiple books at the same time only works for me if they are of different genres or if one is fiction and the other is non-fiction.

Tell me about some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

My primary interest is my family. My husband and I have two sons and I am very close to my family in California. I really enjoy classical music and visiting art museums. I’ve been a member of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts for many years, which makes it easy to stop by for a few hours. 

I also try to go to the gym a few nights a week and my husband and I cycle during the warmer months. We used to ride the Minuteman Trail from Bedford to Somerville – motivated by a visit to the Starbucks in Davis Square – but that path is a mixed-use trail and can have heavy traffic.  We discovered the Nashua River trail, which is a little more pastoral, although there isn’t a Starbucks on the way!