Darla Henderson

Darla Henderson is Assistant Director of Editorial Development in the Journals Publishing Group at the American Chemical Society Publications Division. She earned a Ph.D. in bioorganic chemistry from Duke University, and chose a career that allows her to combine both chemistry and business skills.

What you need to succeed in this field

  • Excellent writing skills
  • Basic set of business skills and understanding (finance, marketing, sales)
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Broad background in scientific knowledge
  • Sound judgment and objectivity
  • Ability to research business topics, then make decisions based on that information
  • Detail orientation and ability to stay on task

Darla focuses her daily efforts on overseeing the strategic development of a portfolio of 14 of the ACS Publications journals, and the books program. She oversees a team of Managing Editors who work alongside the journal Editors on a day-to-day basis. Darla also identifies urgent information needs of chemists spanning a variety of disciplines, then proposes and collaborates with a team to develop a new project that meets chemists’ information needs. Darla is also involved with planning and budgeting anticipated costs. For collaborations with societies or organizations, she negotiates contracts and agreements.

Career Path

While earning a Ph.D. at Duke University, Darla co-authored a book chapter, and found the publishing process interesting. After graduate school, she looked for a career that would balance her love of chemistry and her business skills. She interviewed with John Wiley & Sons publishers, conducted a trial run at acquiring content, and was then offered a challenging position. She realized this meant leaving the laboratory and most likely never returning, so she considered the options carefully before accepting and becoming an Associate Editor.

After about nine months, Darla's direct supervisor left the company, and she handled content and acquisitions for both positions. She not only learned the publishing basics quickly, but learned more life skills such as prioritizing, time management, how to make the best decisions quickly, and how to be a good team leader and manager.

In 2002, Darla negotiated to work off-site and is part of the "virtual workplace". To accomplish this effectively, she has learned how to coordinate travel schedules with her work and personal life, as well as how to direct, collaborate, and motivate teams from a distance.

"There is a shortage of scientific
applicants for this field of work.
Scientific literature is becoming
more complicated, making it even
more important to understand the
customers' workflow, and provide
the information they need when
they need it. Protecting the rights
of both authors and publishers,
while enabling access to
information, is a continuing