Fast Track: Curriculum Vitae: Kevin Whitchurch

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The Independent Culture
Kevin Whitchurch, 37, is the publisher of Haymarket Magazines' title `GOAL!' which launches this week. He is also responsible for launching `FourFourTwo', the first intelligent men's football magazine, and `Sugar', the teen girls' publication.

I WAS born in the baby boom of the early Sixties, and went to what was then the biggest comprehensive in Britain. I wound up getting four A levels which got me into the London College of Printing, from where I wanted to enter journalism. My career choice was based quite simply on a guy who wrote for the Manchester Evening News. He seemed to write about nothing else but Man United. I couldn't imagine a better job.

My first job was on a specialist magazine called Which Video? The job was advertised as assistant editor, but it was actually assistant to the editor. It was a small, innovative company which meant I could get to know the whole process of creating a magazine. Working for small publications is the best way to start out in the magazine industry. It's what enabled me to move so quickly from journalism into publishing when I joined Haymarket in 1983. I started out on What Hi-Fi, and during the next 10 years I worked on What Car?, Autocar, Classic & Sportswear, Practical Caravan and Horticulture Week. People assume you need unrivalled specialist knowledge to write for, edit or publish titles like these, but it can all be taught.

I moved into publishing because, as an editor, I'd got to the point when I could either move into bigger magazines, become a full-time writer, or move into the management side of things. The latter seemed most appealing.

But my journalistic background helped. It's easy as a publisher to get so caught up in budgets and profits that you lose sight of the reader. As a journalist, you're used to having the reader at the forefront of your mind.

I was made a full Board Director in 1993. A year later, in my role as Research and Development Director, I launched FourFourTwo. An arts director, an editor and me realised there was no intelligent men's football title, so it was easy to persuade our employers to go for it.

When none of my other ideas found favour, I left Haymarket to become International Publishing Manager of another publishing company where I headed the German launch of the teen girls' title, Sugar. I loved it because it was a great challenge understanding what makes 14-year-old girls tick.

Now I'm back in Haymarket because of its new optimistic "can do" atmosphere. I'm back on FourFourTwo and launching GOAL! - a fortnightly football mag for teenagers. It's been less than five months since the vision was just a thought, yet I know it will work.

My advice to graduates entering publishing today is to apply for every job going. It's easier to get in than it once was, but it's far more competitive once you're in. It's a young person's business, though, and fantastic fun.

Kate Hilpern

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