For this month’s Aries staff interview, we sat down with Jeff Christie, Client Services Account Coordinator. With a warm smile and positive attitude, Jeff is dedicated to supporting his clients and improving his skills each day. Read our interview with Jeff to learn more about how he got his start in scholarly publishing and what he enjoys most about working with the Aries Client Services team.
Tell us a little about yourself – how long have you been working for Aries? What did you do before joining Aries?
I have been with Aries for a little over a year and a half. I previously worked in production at Sheridan Journal Services. That was where I first used Editorial Manager and ProduXion Manager, in addition to getting my first taste of the scholarly publishing industry. I worked with some great people there, and the experience I got from my time at SJS helped me obtain a position in Client Services here at Aries.
What have your roles at Aries been?
I work in the Client Services department as an Account Coordinator. We are the primary resource for customers to contact should they encounter any issues or have any questions while using EM or PM.
We are also responsible for training new journals that decide to use EM/PM as their online peer review and/or production platform. Launching a new journal and getting the staff acclimated to the system is an important part of our job, and we strive to ensure that all of our customers, both new and experienced, have comfort and autonomy when using Editorial Manager.
Working in CS is a great way to take a deep dive into system configuration and functionality, as we literally spend most (if not all) of each day within the interface. This makes our team that much more of a reliable customer resource.
How have your previous roles helped you in your current position?
I first became familiar with EM/PM when working at SJS; I worked with several customers who used the software, so I quickly became familiar with things like production task assignments, schedule groups and assigning submission flags to particular submissions. When I started at Aries, I already had some familiarity with the user interface, which was extremely beneficial for when I was first learning the ins-and-outs of the system. I wasn’t coming in completely new to how things worked, which was really nice.
How do you stay up-to-date with customer needs?
It’s pretty easy, since my day mostly consists of listening to and addressing customer needs! We constantly receive requests from customers asking how EM/PM can accommodate for various workflow needs on both the editorial and production side of things, and it’s our job to assess how our system can meet these needs.
I also make sure to add functionality suggestions from customers to our Wishlist, our internal master list of all feature ideas, which is maintained by our Product Management department. When a customer suggests a piece of potential functionality for the system that doesn’t currently exist, I add it to this list, and it could be included as a new feature in an upcoming release!
Attending conferences and industry events is also a great way to meet with our customers personally and gain direct feedback about what works and what can be worked on in EM/PM. We have our annual EMUG user group meeting in Boston, which is a terrific chance for users to give their feedback, but it’s also important for us to have a presence at other industry meetings. I attended the ISMTE North American conference this past August in North Carolina, and I found it incredibly valuable to meet with colleagues and learn about the publishing industry’s current landscape from an editor’s perspective.
Tell me about your department and the people you work most closely with.
I love working in Client Services because it’s a department comprised of good, hard-working people. All of us work with different customers, who could have completely different workflows and site-by-site configurations, but if one of us is stuck on a particular issue, someone is always there to volunteer their help; there is a great sense of camaraderie on this team. EM is an incredibly robust software system, and the CS team is constantly working to improve our expertise.
Describe your typical work day.
The great thing about my job is that I don’t really have typical work day! I’d say it’s an ever-changing mix of responding to customer queries, meetings, or trainings for new users who aren’t yet familiar with the system. The ratio of how these things fit into my schedule each day greatly varies, so there’s not much predictability, and I’m more than OK with that!
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I’d say showing people how Editorial Manager can accommodate a workflow need through configuration. When a customer comes to me asking how they can implement something new into their EM/PM site(s)- whether it be Open Access-related, a piece of instructional text, or even a new article type with a unique workflow- it allows me to get creative in using the multitude of configuration options that EM hosts to create a solution. It’s very rewarding when you can get back to a customer and provide them with an effective solution to a problem they’ve encountered.
What are you currently reading, listening to, or watching?
I just started reading Dune by Frank Herbert, which should take quite a while to finish, but I’m really enjoying it so far. I recently finished The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, which was fantastic. Listening-wise, I’m all over the place! Misfits, Phish, Tears for Fears and Senses Fail are my current favorites- I’m constantly trying to find new music and genres to explore. And for T.V, Chopped! I’m also a big fan of Last Chance U, Stranger Things and particularly Curb Your Enthusiasm. Season 10 should be pretty good!
Tell me about some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?
I’ve really developed an interest in cooking over the last few years. It’s cool to buy one new ingredient that you’ve never worked with before and then create a dish based around that ingredient. Tempeh and soy-based protein are throwing me for a loop right now! I also love music- I’ve been playing drums for about 13 years and I try to make it to as many concerts as I can. Reading, golf and exercise are also some of my favorite things to do- I just took up skiing this past year and I’m already looking forward to this winter!