Marie Cannon is the forthcoming President for SLA Europe taking on her new role from January 2017. In this post she shares some background details about herself as well as her thoughts on her new role.
Tell us how you started off in the information profession?
After studying a degree in Philosophy and Literature at the University of Warwick, I didn’t know which profession I wanted to follow. While volunteering in a public library over the summer holidays, I spotted an advert for a graduate traineeship in a library at a law firm, and I thought that it would be a challenging experience completely different from any work that I had done before (which it certainly was!) It was a great starting point with a fantastic team, and due to my positive experience there I have chosen to work in the legal sector ever since.
Your current role is at a Magic Circle law firm. Tell us more about what you do?
I have been a Knowledge and Information Officer at Clifford Chance for just over a year now. I am embedded in the Finance and Capital Markets department and am particularly responsible for helping the banking lawyers. I work closely with Professional Support Lawyers (PSLs) on the knowledge management of the banking department, and I work with the lawyers in extracting any useful know-how and documentation that may be useful for future deals worked on by the firm. I also have more traditional duties such as staffing the enquiries desk and providing legal and business research, giving training on information resources, circulating items for current awareness and compiling client newsletters. This is my first embedded role and although it was challenging at first, it is very rewarding now that I have a good relationship with many of the lawyers and I get to see first-hand how my work directly helps them.
Can you give us one key lesson that you have learned from your career so far?
To take risks. In all other areas of my life I like to stay safe in my comfort zone, but professionally I have taken a number of risks in the past and they have ultimately made me a better professional. I have gone from permanent to temporary roles so that I can develop particular skills, and I have also committed myself to speak at conferences and professional events to force myself to conquer my fear of public speaking. I have been very lucky in having a fantastic mentor in Sam Wiggins and a great support network of colleagues and SLA Europe members who continue to encourage me to challenge myself.
How did you first get involved in SLA and why?
While studying at library school, my mentor Sam recommended that I apply for one of SLA Europe’s Early Career Conference Awards (ECCAs). I never thought in a million years that I would win, and I honestly couldn’t believe it when SLA Europe selected me to attend the SLA annual conference in Chicago in 2012. It was my first ever conference and my first trip to the United States, so I was understandably a little overwhelmed by the experience. But this was quickly overcome due to how warm and welcoming everyone at SLA was (particularly when they picked up on my British accent!) and I came back feeling enthused and excited about my career and about SLA as a professional organisation. On returning to the UK I immediately volunteered as SLA Europe’s blog editor, which I held for a couple of years before becoming Secretary, President-Elect and now President. Having been a member of SLA Europe’s board for over four years now, I have learned a lot from the fantastic presidents we have had during that time and look forward to continuing their excellent work.
What are your plans for the coming year?
Regarding my presidency of SLA Europe, I am looking to try and improve the experience of SLA Europe members by implementing some of the recommendations that came out of the members’ survey, which we held earlier in 2016. In particular, we are going to try and do more to benefit members who are based outside of London by holding events in northern England and Scotland, and we are also planning to host our first webinar. If you are based outside of London and would be willing to host or volunteer at an event, then please do contact me at
On a personal level, I am looking forward to attending the annual conference in Phoenix in June 2017 alongside our ECCAs, and I will also be presenting a session on behalf of the Legal Division.
Is there anything you would like to say to the SLA Europe membership?
I would like to thank you for your continued support and particularly for providing your views in the members’ survey. In the coming year, if you have any feedback on what we can do better on or if you have a topic you would like to hear more about at one of our events then please do get in touch – we want to hear from you.
I think SLA’s main strength is the breadth and variety of its membership network, and SLA Europe’s board members are a prime example of this, having both corporate and academic information professionals from a number of national libraries, law firms and vendors just to name a few. SLA Europe is run entirely by volunteers and we currently have vacancies on our board and in our committees, so if you are interested in joining us as a volunteer then please contact myself or any member of the board. You can find out more about volunteering for SLA Europe here.
I look forward to meeting many of you in the coming year, and I wish you all the best for 2017.