Inspiration, Challenges, and Advice From DK

Svenja Rufus, DK Group Corporate Development Director

Positive, Quick Adjustment to the New Reality by the Entire DK Team. 

Interviews with Svenja Rufus, DK Group Corporate Development Director and Mark Searle, Publishing Director, Licensing, DK.



Mark Searle, Publishing Director, Licensing

Mark: The way everyone in my team has supported each other. From helpful advice on common IT issues, to sharing pet pictures, to making sure everyone is on a hangout and getting the chance to be seen and heard, the whole team rallied around brilliantly. Regardless of circumstance, everyone has done their very best and shown such positive qualities.

Svenja: Everyone has adjusted quickly to this new situation in such a positive way; not only are we learning new ways of working and connecting, but we are also adapting our approach to rapidly changing consumer behaviour by finding new ways to optimise our Amazon presence, from data and insight tools to marketing and sales promotions.

It’s been heartening to see how supportive people are of one another, both as colleagues and as friends. Most importantly the positive spirit and drive from the DK community – it has brought us closer together and focused us on the opportunities we see in these certainly challenging times.


Svenja: This new landscape means that there are different retail, consumer, and supply chain scenarios every day (if not every hour!). Further to this, as a company we are very global therefore it’s more challenging to plan ahead, and our responses have to be much more in real-time and working in different time zones adds another layer of complexity. Juggling the core priorities and decisions that need to be made now, while also using this time to capture future learnings and communicating this clearly to the teams, has been crucial.

Mark: I was concerned about how we would meet our publishing deadlines when faced with such upheaval, but the team has kept everything on track—an incredible achievement. For me, the challenging bit has been bouncing from one video call to another, which can get a bit dizzying at times! Thankfully it’s settling a bit now, but it can still be a challenge to fit everything into the working day and ensure there’s a hard cut-off when you’re not ever actually leaving the building.


Mark: I am starting to be firmer on blocking out time in my diary to do ‘desk work’ and taking a break mid-morning and mid-afternoon for a bit of a potter around the house and to spend time with my kids. It’s a good way of unplugging, then I can come back, refreshed and ready to focus again.

Svenja: At DK, we are used to working remotely across teams in various countries, so working through video conferences is not too unusual, though not at this scale and our tech team have been a great support with advice and setting us up for remote working.

It is ok to stop doing certain things, strip out non-essential work for the time being, and rework priorities. Let’s use this as an opportunity to experiment and learn, and set the right structure for teams and markets to share learnings with each other.

Having a structure, agenda and shared document for every meeting – it sounds simple but can make a real difference. We must all be flexible with resources, and focus them on where they are needed most.


Svenja: I am currently reading THINKING IN BETS by Annie Duke. A gift which was given to me by Jeff Weber (thanks Jeff) when I was over at Penguin Random House NY in February. It gives advice about making smarter decisions when you don’t have all the facts and how to spend less time on low-risk decisions (but potentially get a high reward!), using that extra time to analyse what worked well and not so well, as well as embracing uncertainty in planning for future decisions. This feels now more relevant than ever for how we approach Amazon in particular but perhaps also life in general!

Mark: We’ve been reading together as a family and at the moment we’re enjoying The Land of Roar by Jenny McLachlan. I grabbed a copy of Bernadine Evaristo’s GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER on the last day we were in the office, from the PRH UK Book Club and have just finished reading it. My mum has a copy too, so we’re going to try a remote book group of two…!

Posted: May 1, 2020