35th Anniversary Q&A
“I came to a lot of events and really see IABC as a beginning point in my professional development.…This was the first time I “managed” a group of volunteers and I am glad to have had that experience.” –Blair Williamson
Question: When and why did you join or start participating in IABC? How did you become involved in the local chapter?
Answer: I think 2007, upon my graduation from college. Leanne South was my mentor and boss at the time, and she often took me with her to IABC events while I was a student. The office paid for Leanne’s membership and when I was hired full time, she got me a membership as well. I came to a lot of events and really see IABC as a beginning point in my professional development. Pam Wiley asked me to become a board member.
Q: Have you held a leadership position with BVIABC? If so, which one(s) and when?
A: Yes. 2014–2015 President, 2013–2014 President-Elect, 2012–2013 VP Finance, and 2012–2012 VP Administration (Secretary).
Q: Please share any stories or comments about your service to our chapter. Was it a positive experience? Do you feel it has helped your career? Would you recommend it to others?
A: In general, it was quite positive. I learned a lot about organizing budgets and organizing people. My time as president was a bit stressful because I felt the strain of trying to get people/board members involved who (I felt) weren’t very motivated. However, this was the first time I “managed” a group of volunteers and I am glad to have had that experience. I really enjoyed my time as VP Finance because I felt like it was a role that contributed a lot to the organization.
Q: Why IABC? What was it about IABC that made you decide to join?
A: Honestly, because it was given to me. And because it was local. I think that a local PD group was very important for the beginning of my career. I enjoyed being exposed to ideas from different roles, where now I tend to only attend if/when a topic is directly relevant to my job function. I think the local in-person connection is important when you are getting started and when getting acclimated to the BCS community. I have made a lot of connections with other professionals in the area strictly because of IABC.
Q: Would you share what your job is and why you love what you do? What draws you to communication as a profession?
A: Web content strategy—asking the “why” of content that goes on websites, figuring out how to plan and organize a website in a way that matches business goals and where site visitors can find what they want/need from a site. This strategy, planning, and being allowed to ask why is what I love. Plus, I can test and research sites to support my hypothesis. Bosses can’t argue with data! I think that’s a hole in training for general communicators—I wasn’t taught how to do measurement and research. Yes, we always say we need it and don’t have time for it after a project is “done”, but honestly, I don’t think I knew how to do it before applying it to the web. Strategy, planning, and feeling like I am contributing something to the organization I can promote and clarify in a way others can’t.
Q: What is one thing that you wish you’d known when you were starting out in your career?
A: That there isn’t an ideal career path or expectation I have to follow. I need to do what makes me happy and makes me feel fulfilled. I wish I knew how/when to outsource things. I got myself into trouble (and stress) by trying to do everything myself, when really, I didn’t have the expertise or talent to do some things, like design and print a nice brochure. Also, I wish I knew how to speak my value to a boss and explain why I was asking the “why” questions – I had a boss that thought I was simply undermining him.