Page to be Faber's executive chair, Cannam steps up to m.d.

Page to be Faber's executive chair, Cannam steps up to m.d.

Stephen Page is to become executive chair at Faber after 20 years as c.e.o. while chief operating officer Mary Cannam steps up to the role of managing director. 

The executive team will now report to Cannam, who will lead the day-to-day company business, working closely with Page and reporting to him to develop Faber’s publishing and its community of authors, as well as implementing strategy and wider company policies. The new roles will take effect from 1st April.  

Page said: “I am delighted by this promotion for Mary. We have worked closely for many years, and her range of strategic and leadership skills, her wise judgement and ethical outlook, along with a vocation for bringing great writing to readers, make her a natural for the role. Mary has played a particularly important part in Faber’s achievements in recent years, and I am excited at the prospect of her leadership of the company and at how, working together, we can plan and deliver an ambitious strategy. 

“This important and necessary change comes at an exciting time for the company, following a sustained period of success across our business, and as we launch a bold new plan for the next decade. Faber is a larger, more impactful company than it has been at any time in its 90-year history, and our new roles are designed to ensure that we continue to develop the company brilliantly and successfully in a very dynamic environment for publishing."

Page told The Bookseller that the changes are part of a new phase for Faber. "We are about to embark on a new company plan," he said. "It embraces our opportunity for continued success in a publishing environment that is proving highly dynamic. These roles are designed to ensure that we give clear leadership to Faber as it meets these challenges with great vision and energy."

He added: "The role of managing director is new to 21st-century Faber. I had been in the role of chair and chief executive, so in stepping into these two new roles we are rethinking the ways in which Mary and I can be most impactful and effective, working together and singularly."

Page, who became Faber c.e.o. in 2001, revealed he first began considering a new structure around six months ago. “I first started thinking about this as an obvious step in the autumn but I suppose it’s been in my mind for some time," he said. "Mary’s talent and what she can bring to the business is something that has been in my mind for a long time, but this particular step began to feel natural in the autumn. We worked particularly closely together in the first six months of the pandemic, which led very naturally to this piece of thinking.” 

“When the idea first came to me,  it took some thinking about but actually now we’re doing it, I can’t wait. I’m really excited about what I feel I’m able to do and Faber is able to do with this leadership."

Page hopes that the new roles will give him greater freedom to represent Faber at an industry level and advocate for greater progress in the sector overall. He told The Bookseller: “There's a further stretch to what I've been doing the past few years: I chair Creative Access and also sit on the Creative Industries Council. So we're trying to represent our industry within the creative industry and play some role in transforming the creative industry through Creative Access. This is something I’ve done more of recently and I enjoy these roles and think they’re really important, so perhaps the first thing on my mind is I'll win some time and headspace for these areas. But also I'll have some space to think about how publishing is developing and help us put together the best list—we have a brilliant editorial team.”  

He described how Cannam has been a valuable team member since she began almost two decades ago. “I remember when she first started in 2002. She rose very quickly on arrival and became commercial director and joined the board within a few years of arriving. So this is an amazing step for us. I feel like Faber, in Mary, has one of the most talented people in publishing. I can’t wait to see how she and Faber develop with her in that role, it will be so exciting. She’s a really fantastic colleague with a brilliantly quick and clear mind, she has helped us for many years to be well run and successful. A lot of the recent success is down to Mary.” 

Cannam (pictured left) joined Faber in 2002, having previously worked at Waterstones as a bookseller, branch manager and at head office, and at HarperCollins. She took on the newly created role of chief operating officer two years ago, having taken over the role of finance director in 2011. 

She said: "I am thrilled and honoured to be given this opportunity. Faber is a very special company, with its remarkable history and a superb list of writers. As we take Faber into the future, I want us to continue to build on the strengths that we have, to be a culturally significant, outward-looking, inclusive and innovative company, publishing the very best writers, and serving our authors and readers as fully as we can. 

“The team at Faber is extraordinary: a truly exceptional and highly committed set of individuals, at all levels and in every department. My colleagues on the executive team are creative and committed people, who I love working with, and we could not be better placed to continue the success of recent years. Stephen and I have worked very closely together during the past few years and I’m very much looking forward to continuing that close working relationship.” 

Geoffrey Faber Holdings and the T S Eliot Foundation said: “We have watched Mary’s career since she first came to Faber with increasing admiration. For the past few years Stephen and Mary have been guiding the firm with the growing success that means it is now, as much as it has ever been, a beacon for independent publishers. We are delighted that Stephen is now appointing Mary as managing director. We know she will be hugely successful and that Faber has the right team to lead it towards its 100th birthday.”