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Sanyu Dillon, Devoted New Yorker, nature seeker, purpose finder, energy bundler, living and working full-time.
Mother of two, attentive listener, helping new books find their readers. MBA student and Executive Vice President,
Director of Marketing, Penguin Random House, New York City.

Sanyu Dillon

I love books

Whether they’re fiction, practical or inspirational books – I can completely immerse myself and forget about everything else, says Sanyu Dillon. I can always learn something new from books – I like that a lot. That’s also why I work in publishing.

Sanyu Dillon has been working for Random House in New York for ten years. Each year some 500 books of various genres are published here. Sanyu is responsible for advertising and marketing the new books. I love reading all kinds of books and that’s pretty much exactly what my job is about. I read a book page by page and then work with my team to decide who the ideal reader is for that book. Then the next step is to work out where to find these readers and what we need to say about the book to really capture their interest.

Sanyu draws inspiration from many different sources to keep herself motivated in her work at the Bertelsmann subsidiary. And she is constantly discovering new things that motivate her. But the biggest inspiration for her is the city she has been living in for many years: New York is an amazing place. The music, the art, the culture – the whole energy of the city really inspires me. Beyond that, she is also a highly creative person: I have tons of ideas that I can incorporate into my daily work. Publishing is an extremely interesting industry right now because it’s going through this transition phase where a lot has already changed, but a lot more change is still to come.

I think for a creative person this offers fantastic opportunities to cover new ground, to develop strategies and formulate goals.

Many people respond to change with pessimism or fear. But not Sanyu. I'm not afraid of change – on the contrary, I actually really like change. If I notice that I’m feeling scared, I just ask myself, ‘what do I need to adapt? What can I do to be ready for this new chapter in life?’ So I embrace the fear and use it to motivate myself to adapt.

In all this, she never loses sight of her goals. I am very goal-oriented and I think that success is a measure of that. It doesn't always have to be a million books sold. Sometimes the goal is a successful advertising campaign that appeals to many different readers. The most important thing is not to be afraid of making mistakes. One thing I have learned is that mistakes are a great opportunity to change direction and try something different, Sanyu says.

Seeking new chapters and exploring opportunities for successfully marketing newly published books is an important part of Sanyu’s day-to-day work. Even in the digital age, people still want to read great books. Maybe not in printed form, but as e-books, but reading is still very much in fashion. What has changed is the competition between the different media. People have more choice: They can decide whether they want to read or spend their time playing a video game or watching TV. This is why it’s crucial for us to fight this battle for the book and to help people take pleasure in reading, so that they choose to spend their leisure time with our books.

In her free time, Sanyu likes to do fun things with her children. I always wanted to have children.

Now I am the proud mother of a three-year-old son and an eight-week-old daughter. I have a great group of friends and a great network of support.

When I left university, my goal was to get into publishing – and I’ve now been working in publishing almost since I graduated, she muses, I really love the industry and that’s what’s kept me here. It changes so much, it never gets boring. And I love what I do. Bertelsmann is such a great place to work, because they really invest in their people and they really believe in their people. There’s been a lot of opportunity for me to develop in my career here.

In return, she doesn’t mind putting up with heavy workloads. In addition to her full-time job at Penguin Random House, she not only raises her two small children, but is also just about to complete an MBA course. The joy she gets from expanding her horizons simply outweighs all the hard work involved. When I look back on my life so far, I’m pretty happy with where it’s taken me. It’s not all that different from what I dreamed of when I was little. As a little girl I wanted to own a bookstore, so, I’m kind of close to that, Sanyu laughs. The only thing that’s missing is a sporting achievement: My next goal is to take part in a triathlon. The endurance and flexibility she gains from swimming, cycling and running also help Sanyu in her daily work capturing readers’ interests. And working towards the triathlon will be yet another new chapter in Sanyu’s story.

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