How IDM Editor Alicia Camphuisen achieved so much, in such a short time

How IDM Editor Alicia Camphuisen achieved so much, in such a short time

Alicia Camphuisen started her journalism career with Knapp Communications in March 1998. It was her first full-time position in publishing after graduating with honours from university.

After only two weeks into the job, I recall thinking to myself "this journo will become a CEO one day", such was the rare combination of qualities displayed by this exceptional 20 year-old graduate.

As our readers will know, Alicia went on to become the magazine's youngest editor, indeed, one of the youngest editors of any publication in Australia. But on July 20, 2002, I had the worst news I've yet had to deal with in my professional career: Alicia had passed away in her sleep. She had just turned 25.

Alicia became the finest editor I had worked with in 20 years of publishing, such was her talent and drive. Alicia had imagination, passion, warmth, humour and intelligence.

Then there was her organisational skills and ability to manage people. I think she may have found it easy to get people to deliver on time because she was always so far ahead herself.

Coming almost straight from university, there is always a great deal to be learned about the "real world" of publishing, as it is a complex sequence of co-ordinating a disparate array of people and services.

Alicia learnt quickly. Rarely did she have to be shown twice how to do a particular task, but what made her genuinely special is that it was probably the last time anyone asked her to do it. It quickly became apparent that she "got it"; she understood how one task fitted in to the bigger scheme of publishing and she quickly built a mental map of this process.

But it was her personality which made her so special, as previously gruff and difficult executives who we would pursue for interviews would almost always agree to be interviewed by this charming and intelligent young woman.

Publishing can be a tough business at times, and for an editor it can be very stressful as they strive to pull together a wide variety of elements from sometimes unreliable sources; another journalist said to me we all carry the same battle scars from those experiences. With us they've included power failures right on deadline hour - not day mind you, but the hour - and yet at all times Alicia had this calm, almost sereneness that I'd never really encountered before.

Within our team, Alicia was the beacon of light who was always considerate of others. There was also her smile and laughter, the sound of which will remain with all of us for many years to come.

There was also her unconditional support. It was never less than 100 per cent, even when the going got tough as this publisher sent the company into unchartered waters as we tackled a global market. But Alicia never wavered. It was her work which provided the stability and foundation for our other major project to go forward.

Alicia√ēs friends and colleagues at Knapp Communications have been exceptional throughout the past two months. They have rallied in her memory and strived to maintain the standard of work for which she became known. Her close colleague and Features Editor Mark Chillingworth has been a tower of strength, and I have been fortunate to have the immediate support of former employees, such as Constantine Nicholas and former Editor Paul Montgomery, who are now back on the IDM team.

There has been a profound sense of loss among us all. There is no reason to it, and as we have headed down that path of realisation, what we can say is that we were fortunate - fortunate that we were able to share those precious years with our dear colleague and friend.

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