This month, we're bringing back a bit of a crowd favourite – the '5 minutes with…' segment. And, to begin, our new Vice President, Suzanne Waddell, has agreed to put herself in the hot seat.
1. Congratulations on your appointment as the new IABC Victoria Vice President. Can you tell us a bit about your role and what you see as the big opportunities for IABC Victoria ahead?
My role is primarily to support the President to build on the excellent foundation established by previous leaders. My focus will be to continue to build the IABC profile and membership base and to ensure we provide value for our members.
2. Your bio mentions you spent your earlier career in front-line service roles. Has this experience shaped your approach to communication and, if so, how?
I often hear terms like ‘customer journey’ and ‘customer experience’ in business conversations. This is a very positive thing given we are all customers of someone.
Having a service background ensures that I always take time to look at things from a customer’s perspective. You’d be surprised how often doing this can fundamentally change a communications strategy for the better.
3. What are you seeing as the big hitter trends in communication for 2015?
There has been lots of talk about convergence of functions that were once quite distinct, such as marketing, public relations and corporate affairs. In 2015 I think we will start to see a change in how communications teams are structured. We’ll still need good generalists, but there will be a greater need for specialists and the challenge will be in how to harness the qualities of both in what is a very dynamic and continually evolving profession.
4. We've noticed that there's been very strong growth in the number of students studying communication in the last 12 months. As a sessional communication tutor, can you share your thoughts about what our younger communicators can do to stand out from the crowd?
Communications students and recent graduates, or those who have recently moved into a communications role should seek to develop relationships with potential mentors who are already in the industry. It can be as simple as having a coffee with someone you admire.
Professional associations like the IABC have special student rates, or you can attend an event as a non-member and still get access to great networking opportunities. Later in your career you can then ‘give back’ to the next generation of communicators.
5. What do you most value about being an IABC member?
I most value the diversity of members, from in-house teams to consultancies, and from small businesses, not for profit groups to government agencies and large corporates. I learn so much from my peers and the IABC gives me access to great networks.
6. You also mention in your bio that you are a lapsed artist. Tell us a bit more about this.
Painting and drawing has always been a great passion of mine, but I haven’t been as productive in this space as I would have liked. I will make a big effort to exhibit some paintings in the next year or so. Stay tuned!