Thomas and Burridge leaving Springer Nature

Thomas and Burridge leaving Springer Nature

Annette Thomas is to leave her role as chief scientific officer for Springer Nature this week. She is also stepping down as a board member of the company.

In a separate move, Sam Burridge, m.d. of the Open Research Group at Springer Nature, is to leave the company at the end of April.

Thomas was formerly c.e.o. at Macmillan Science and Education, taking her new position as global head of the research organisation when the business merged with Springer, and Springer's Derk Haank took the c.e.o. role at the merged company.

Steven Inchcoombe, previously m.d. of Nature Research Group, is to "assume a broader role within the Springer Nature research organisation" which will see him share responsibility for Thomas' existing reporting lines with Haank, as well as becoming a board member of Springer Nature.

Thomas said: "It has been a tremendous honour to be part of the amazing journey of Nature and Macmillan for over 20 years. We have been driven by our mission to improve the outcomes for researchers, teachers and students and, by doing this, to create long-term sustainable commercial success. I have worked with truly amazing colleagues who have an unrelenting commitment to excellence and who are not afraid to challenge the status quo. I am immensely proud of all that the team has achieved and of the brands that, as a result, stand even stronger in the market today – world leading brands like Nature and Macmillan.

"There is so much more to be done to open up the world of discovery so that researchers and teachers and everyone who supports them can access and apply the ideas, data and technology they need to achieve better outcomes and accelerate our collective ability to solve societies' grand challenges. I am looking forward to building upon my experiences to contribute to the fast-moving world of science and education." 

Stefan von Holtzbrinck, chairman of the Springer Nature supervisory board, said that Macmillan Science and Education "went from strength to strength" under Thomas' leadership "and this enabled us to make the merger with Springer a reality." He added: "Thanks to her vision and drive, Annette has set Springer Nature up well for success and leaves the research group in strong hands. I have worked with Annette for over 20 years and will be forever grateful for her support. I wish her all the best for her next challenge."

Thomas started her career as a scientist, with degrees in biochemistry, biophysics and neuroscience from Harvard and Yale universities. She joined Macmillan Publishing Group in 1993 as cell biology editor for Nature, and oversaw its expansion from just two journals to the 60 Nature-branded journals that exist today, becoming m.d. of Nature Publishing Group in 2000, and chief executive of Macmillan Publishers in 2007. She created start-up incubator Digital Science in 2010, became chief executive of Macmillan Science and Education in 2012 and Springer Nature's chief scientific officer in May 2015.

Last October, Haank told The Bookseller: "The new management [of Springer Nature] consists of four people, three from the former Springer [Haank, c.o.o. Martin Mos and c.f.o. Ulrich Vest] and Annette Thomas. The three of us were managers in publishing, whereas Annette is a scientist who ended up in publishing. We have different backgrounds and skill sets. We think the combination should enable us to do great things."

Meanwhile Sam Burridge, m.d. of Open Research at Springer Nature, is leaving after 21 years with Macmillan companies to seek "a new challenge". Burridge started at Macmillan in 1995, working at Macmillan Education and becoming m.d. of Palgrave. Burridge moved to Nature Publishing Group to develop a strategy to grow the open research business and team, including the move of Nature Communications to fully open access, plus overseeing the growht of Scientific Reports. "Within two years, the NPG business has grown over 200%, making the Nature brand a real force in the open access space",  said a statement announcing Burridge's departure internally. Burridge took responsibility for the Springer Nature Open Research Group in May 2015. 

A replacement for Burridge's role is currently being sought, with Burridge remaining with the business to ensure a good handover and smooth transition for her management team.