Welcome to CIPR Communications ‘Masters in Comms’ blog series.
Every week we will feature a new professional that has proven to be a true Master of Communications in their respective field.
Our goal? To learn from one another! There are valuable lessons to learned from fellow communicators – from risks they took to words of advice that motivate them to ensuring life is full of balance.
“Be brave. You are not expected to know all of the answers, but you are expected to dig deeper, explore, fail, have fun. ”
- Camille Weleschuk
Q: What is the best piece of professional advice you ever received? Who provided it?
A: I had an amazing leader and mentor early in my career - Anne Douglas - and she is famous for her one-liners. She would often tell me ‘their lack of planning doesn’t equal your emergency.’ She made sure the right amount of time was taken to deliver good, solid communications counsel. Another colleague of mine would advise his clients to bring in communications expertise early in the planning versus the end by saying ‘we can either help you plan your parade or bury the body.’ The advice is exaggerated to make a point.
Q: What is the biggest challenge and opportunity for communicators today?
A: Adding value - and it is that simple because either you do or you don’t. You need to know the business well enough to have an opinion, and then you need to articulate your insights to drive progress. You create your own value, don’t expect it to be handed to you.
Q: What project would you consider your most significant career accomplishment to date?
A: I have been so lucky in my career to work on so many meaningful projects. It has ranged from helping our province promote itself on the world stage at the London and Vancouver Olympics to surviving crises like the Slave Lake and Fort McMurray fires. Most recently, I was honoured to lead the introduction of ATB’s new President and CEO - Curtis Stange - to Albertans and I am beyond excited about the future of this purpose-driven organization.
Q: What do you read to keep your brain sharp?
A: Being in the second year of my MBA right now, I am immersed in reading about everything from information technology to corporate finance and strategic management. Because my ‘required’ reading is so heavy these days, I lean towards podcasts to expand my understanding of the world around me. We just launched a new podcast at ATB called Perch, and it’s ranking in the top 15 business podcasts in Canada which is very exciting!
Q: Where do you see communications five years from now?
A: At every executive table with a respected voice, a creative solution and a hunger for driving the business forward. The ability to take complex information, narrow it down into a few key insights and craft the right story around it is a thing of beauty. No matter what business you are in, people need information and you need to figure out how they will best receive it and use it. It has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them.
Q: What advice would you give to someone that’s just entering the field of communications?
A: Be brave. You are not expected to know all of the answers, but you are expected to dig deeper, explore, fail, have fun. Also, people are attracted to confidence, so align yourself in companies and with the right leaders that will help you to build your confidence - and then look out - your future is bright!
Q: What do you know today you wish you had known when you first started your career?
A: Not everyone will accept your advice and, often, it has nothing to do with you. Don’t let people get into your head and wreck your day. Develop skills to let things roll off your back, stay calm, stay true to your advice and then move on.
Q: What drives you crazy?
A: Long-winded answers. Get to the point.
Q: Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?
A: Good and on time. Life is about seizing opportunities and they don’t always wait around for you. You will always find a better way to word something, or develop more creative positioning, but the business will judge harshly if you show up late all the time.
Q: What do you love and dislike about your job?
A: That there is always work to do... and that there is always work to do. I often joke that despite all of the disruption with automation and artificial intelligence, communications professionals are guaranteed jobs for years to come. It is a skill to be able to find the right insight and then deliver your message to the right people, at the right time.
Q: Who is the smartest person you know and why?
A: I am surrounded by smart people - and that is deliberate. I love opinions and a different way of thinking. That is also why my husband and I get along so well - we build each other up.