New York City/Scarborough
Assistant managing editor,
Martha Stewart Living magazine
Scarborough native Paulie Dibner, 27, says her job as assistant managing editor of Martha Stewart Living magazine is a little like being an air traffic controller. In other words, there’s so much to do that “you can’t sleep on the job.”
Not that Dibner would want to. Her 21?2 years in her role amount to her “dream job,” she says, one perfectly suited to a self-proclaimed former “sassy kid.”
“If there was someone to boss around, I was pretty keen to do it,” Dibner says.
Her tactics today are “less aggressive,” she laughs. “There’s a place in the world for those of us who like organization.”
Dibner says holding the position of assistant managing editor is unusual at her age. She’s quick to credit “an amazing mentor who had an uncanny ability to see what someone was good at.”
So what started four years ago as Dibner’s position as assistant to the magazine’s creative director is now a major role in ensuring that the monthly publication (circulation 2 million-plus) goes from the initial planning stages all the way to printing. That means having four separate issues of the magazine in the works at once, Dibner says. At any given time there is an issue being planned, one being shot, one being designed and one going to press, she says.
When asked what it’s like to work with Martha Stewart, Dibner simply says, “She’s wonderful.” That estimation may, in fact, have begun way back when Dibner was 10 years old and began subscribing to the magazine.
“I was a nerdy, home-bound kid,” she says. “I baked with my mom. I went to the farmers market.”
Now, less than two decades later, Dibner says working for the magazine she has loved for so long “is a little surreal sometimes. It’s amazing. It’s very well-suited to my personality.”
There are certainly challenges to the work.
“I’m a big people-pleaser,” Dibner says. “I don’t think I had experienced the challenge of learning how not to be liked. Of course it’s more important for the magazine to go to press than to be liked.”
And being liked is a relative term, she adds. “Not being liked for an hour” – thanks to a job that includes enforcing deadlines – “doesn’t translate to a general overall feeling.” In fact, she says, one of her best friends happens to be a co-worker.
Dibner says a common denominator among the entire staff is passion about the magazine’s content.
“The company attracts an amazing crew of talent.” Being part of that crew “is a blessing,” she says.
It may not have been what she imagined when she graduated from Scarborough High School in 2005 and headed to Fordham College at Lincoln Center, part of Fordham University. With the exception of six months in Paris in 2008, Dibner has been in New York ever since.
Graduating with a double major in graphic design and painting, Dibner faced a tough economy upon graduation in 2009.
“It was the worst time to be job hunting,” she says. “But I knew I didn’t want to leave New York.”
So she didn’t. She worked three jobs, including a lot of babysitting – which led to serving as office manager for a child-care agency.
“It’s a little like matchmaking,” she says of the work. “The clients were amazing. The babysitters were amazing. I didn’t really have a career path. I was just working my tail off.”
She also got a break.
“I met a woman at Martha Stewart Living,” she says. “She helped me network.”
It paid off. Dibner has been at the magazine for four years, and envisions being there a whole lot longer.
“It’s hard work,” she says. “I have work nightmares sometimes.” That’s part of the package, she says, part of not wanting to disappoint the “people who have faith in me.”
And, of course, there are perks to the job.
“Treats from the test kitchen,” she points out. “Don’t discount the cupcakes.”