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Cambridge University Press Reviews

Updated 9 July 2018
193 reviews

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3.1
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Cambridge University Press Chief Executive Peter Phillips
Peter Phillips
89 Ratings

193 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • "Promotes (and really encourages you to have) work-life balance" (in 26 reviews)

  • "On site gym, flexible working hours, mostly lovely people" (in 10 reviews)

Cons
  • "Multiple changes in senior management and organizational structure makes it hard to do your day to day job" (in 17 reviews)

  • "Every decision by upper management seems designed to decrease productivity" (in 13 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "A positive place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Cambridge University Press full-time

    Pros

    Good working environment. Excellent perks. Excellent location. Study support. Supportive team. Strong values.

    Cons

    Procedure heavy. So many internal procedures.


  2. Helpful (5)

    "Careering towards a ravine like a dehydrated, malnourished and completely lost hill walker"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Cambridge University Press full-time

    Pros

    More good intentions than I've ever encountered anywhere, optimism in the face of considerable evidence to the contrary, some AMAZING people, some fantastic ideas and real creativity and so so so so so much potential.

    Cons

    Abominable leadership, first and foremost.

    It's very clique-y (you just KNOW who will get promotions etc and who won't often even when it flies in the face of logic), leaders are often staggeringly stubborn about reality in the face of real evidence of serious issues, it's extremely political, it's very busy going somewhere but no-one seems to know what that destination is, it's extremely good at spending time on incomprehensible nonsense apparently related to strategic positioning and future planning, it's not at ALL good at focusing on and attending-to real ground-level issues for staff (often ignoring them completely, esp. formal training and development opportunities, transparent career paths etc while at the same time claiming that CUP is a people-first organisation which is EXTREMELY upsetting to experience) while spending inordinate amounts of time and money making people's lives oddly unpleasant and difficult and very frustrating (note the all new and oppressive dark grey colour schemes for thoroughfares, the sudden explosion of security like we're working on top secret military technology that ultimately runs to staff having to swipe themselves in or out all over the place and getting talked down to like school children for 'infractions', the canteen that specialises in shoveling carbs down people's throats all day so we're completely exhausted after lunch while we also see posters explaining the benefits of kale and healthy eating plastered around the place, the astounding lack of natural light, the airless meeting rooms that send people to sleep, the water dispensers that are mostly broken and when working trickle water into cups like the tears of the person trying to operate the thing,...I could go on and on).

    Another huge con for me is having seen so many fabulous people leave recently (it's not natural flow, people are fed up and moving on) and also working with so many people either working on a plan or trying to execute a plan to leave.

    Ultimately what this comes down to for me is that over more than a decade here I've seen good times and bad but I've not before witnessed the level of weirdness and absence of common sense or logical leadership (about pretty much anything) since I started. It's all very frustrating and really exhausting and terribly stressful. I've had enough and will be going as soon as I can engineer it (nearly there) and I'll be making the move with great sadness.

    Advice to Management

    Think about Greek mythology, when civilisation is falling to pieces and the people are suffering while the Gods are so busy looking at themselves and rewarding themselves and fighting among themselves (when a mountain they smash collapses on a village or causes a tidal wave that wipes out a city) that they don't even notice the damage done until it's too late. Get a grip on this, quickly, before whoever is left ends up standing around staring at the ruins of a great organisation and wondering what happened.

  3. Helpful (3)

    "Celebrating Mediocrity"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Middle Management in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Current Employee - Middle Management in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Cambridge University Press full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    An easy place to coast towards retirement with minimal effort.
    Much improved investment in attracting and developing staff.

    Cons

    Falls short of incentivising high performance. Claims to have a performance related pay scheme but in reality there is a 0.8% difference between a top and bottom rating. A number of longer serving colleagues appear to have become wise to this and do the absolute minimum required to get by.
    Certificates and paper weights are an appreciated and thoughtful touch for high achievers, but it's patronising not to back this up when claiming to offer performance related pay.

    Advice to Management

    Channel your inner Thatcher and stop sucking up to the minority of your employees represented by the union.


  4. "Customer Service Advisor"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, East of England, England

    I worked at Cambridge University Press full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Good benefits and work place

    Cons

    shifting schedule and needs more manpower


  5. Helpful (2)

    "Stressful place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Cambridge University Press full-time

    Pros

    Good holiday allowance and on site gym.

    Cons

    There is a strong blame culture and many people are over -worked because of poor leadership.


  6. Helpful (6)

    "Main Asset overlooked"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Publicity Assistant in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Former Employee - Publicity Assistant in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Cambridge University Press full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Onsite gym and restaurant (reasonable priced food).
    Colleagues very helpful and friendly.
    Reasonable site in City with parking and easy walking distance from train station, close to guided bus route.

    Cons

    Lot of empire building by middle management, this results in the the main Asset (the people on the floor) being overlooked especially when certain managers know less about the job than those they manage.
    Fear that if they continue in the way the business has in later years there will be an exodus of knowledgable and loyal staff.

    Advice to Management

    Get to know your staff better, not just managers and relying on feedback from line managers (not all are completely honest on their feedback).
    Take all feedback on board not just the positive but also the negative as some very experienced people are asking reasonable questions and they should not be labelled as being too old and resisting changes but looking for reasonable answers as to why those changes are being put in place.


  7. Helpful (7)

    "Not recommended"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Customer Service Representative in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Former Employee - Customer Service Representative in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Cambridge University Press full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Good work-life balance, good canteen, good outside premises, good environment with good people wanting to make the difference.

    Cons

    Management is poor. From the Top down to spreading all over. I can only speak of Customer Services department that I found a bit of a mess. Lots of unknowledgeably people taking advantage of the ones who work hard in order to hide behind them doing nothing and getting paid at the end of the month. All needed to get by with this attitude would be become friends with the manager. Some managers are not up to the place as they can not serve as an example seeing their posture at work and the way they clearly treat colleagues. Some being treated different from another. Decisions are made by whoever does not have a clue on what is deciding about. Not a Billion dollar company but always found a way to trow big money in hands of the vultures aka contractors that someday were full-time employees but learned the way and returned as contractors. This because wages poor and badly distributed. Bad management I blame it on. There is a lot of talent leaving the company in a constant basis but clearly judging by the feedback received from the ones still there "they" still don't learn the lesson. I do not recommend this company if you want to do serious work and make the difference and be paid accordingly.

    Advice to Management

    Pay attention to what the market is doing in Publishing. Stop being stubborn with your ideas worth nothing in the Era of Digital. Learn that a company is made by its full time employees who devote more time to it than to their families since they spend most time of their life at work. Be more to your employees as they can do for less money what you give a fortune to outsiders come and do (sometimes not so good) and with that you would have a knowlegeable and enthusiastic staff that would want to take of the business. Treat all departments the same way. As a customer service employee I've always felt less than other departments since in crucial times of the year when everyone is off having fun with family and friends we were working like cursed souls even-though the business was dead. There is no justification for that. Focus on you working premises as they are far from environmental judging by the amount of energy consumed to warm / aerate those due to old and needing serious work facilities.

  8. Helpful (6)

    "Fractured and isolated"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Cambridge University Press full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Pay is fairly good compared to other publishing companies in London, but low compared to other companies in Cambridge. Many employees don't appreciate this because they've never worked at any other publishing company.

    The canteen has been recently refurbished, although the food remains much the same. On-site gym is nice, and good selection of health classes. Subsidised drinking on Friday nights at the Cass Centre.

    Pretty standard offer of professional development opportunities, including a mentoring scheme and various courses.

    No one works crazy hours here - even if they claim that they do. The parking lot is empty at 9:30 in the morning (because no one has arrived yet), and it's empty again at 4:30 in the afternoon (because everyone has gone home). You're definitely going to be able to have a work-life balance, if that's important to you (although maybe too much on the life part!)

    Cons

    Three separate and silo'd divisions (Academic, ELT and Education) who never communicate. There is a lot of talk about collaboration, but in more than four years I've never seen a concrete example.

    An unwillingness to make the hard decisions - even when they claim they are making the hard decisions - they still take the easy way out. Endless restructures (applies to all three divisions) that just end up re-shuffling the same people into new roles, when everyone knows that certain people should be made redundant, but the Press lacks the ability to function as a hard-nosed business doing what's right for the company. They are still too precious about upsetting people or causing legal fallout.

    A confusing branch structure which is enforced differently by division. Some branches have Academic + Education combined, other branches have ELT + Education combined, and in others they are all separate. This makes process and procedure almost impossible.

    Lack of transparency over pay at the higher levels - anyone who is a mid-level manager or higher is on the secret pay bands. There was a big review a few years ago to try and bring similar roles onto the same band, but it seems that it's no longer being applied - almost every role is an exception in one way or another.

    The place is overly hierarchical. I've been told that I'm not allowed to email certain people, because I'm not at a certain level. Documents go up the chain for comment, and then back down the chain for actioning, which takes days/weeks/months, rather than a simple 5-minute conversation.

    Advice to Management

    Start getting rid of the people who have been hanging on for ages but are just taking up space. Your middle managers know who these people are, but you lack the gumption to make the right decision. You claim to be business-oriented and want to be a truly commercial organisation, but then you have to start acting like it. Sending your middle managers on endless leadership training sessions is not going to solve the problem - you have to actually listen to their concerns on an individual basis.


  9. Helpful (4)

    "A Plodder"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Cambridge University Press full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    The gym, on-site restaurant, the support/services teams, the on-site parking, and definitely the people - the people are genuinely fantastic. You'll miss all of these if you leave.

    I was lucky to have a lot of input into my career development.

    Cons

    - The HiPPO culture: fear of mid-managers to make their own decisions because senior managers can be outspoken and bullish, or just don't allow them to make them.
    - Legacy systems - innovation has been thwarted at times by having to incorporate old foundational technology that's not sexy enough to get budget to update/replace.. resulting in vast swathes of work-arounds and old tech exceptions.

    Advice to Management

    Buy a start-up that has had to innovate to survive, keep it separate rather than absorb the life out of it, and let it innovate for you, rather than trying to do re-hashed stuff yourself.


  10. "A positive company to work for"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Commissioning Editor in Cambridge, East of England, England
    Current Employee - Commissioning Editor in Cambridge, East of England, England

    I have been working at Cambridge University Press full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    A friendly place to work with clear goals and expectations

    Cons

    You have to accept that you're a small cog in a very large wheel

    Advice to Management

    Keep communicating well


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