Lauren Nowak, IABC member and Director of Corporate and Investor Communication at WE Communications, shares her thoughts on current challenges for communicators, setting boundaries and the value of connectivity.
Tell us what you do?
I am a strategic communication management professional working agency side as a Director of Corporate and Investor Communication at WE Communications. It’s a nice mix of two different but complementary streams of comms.
I get the best of both worlds in this role, and it’s true that no two days are the same. Building awareness and protecting brand while also balancing the very important need of communicating shareholder value is something that is very important and exciting to me.
When did you join IABC Victoria and why?
Thirteen years ago – I was signed up by my first ever career role at Ambulance Victoria. My manager at the time, who is now funnily enough the IABC APAC Chair James Howe, was the one who encouraged me to join an association. James recognised the value of creating meaningful connections within our industry and signed Ambulance Victoria up for a corporate membership.
I started going to events regularly, I was quite young so I was a little nervous at the beginning, but everyone was so welcoming and open and they truly have the time for each other.
I had received so much value from my time as a member so four years ago I felt like it was time to give back – In my membership life, I’ve spent 3 years on the Victoria board, taking a break during COVID and have now recently joined the APAC board.
What will be your focus as IABC APAC Secretary and Governance Director?
Working with ASX listed companies in my current role, I understand and appreciate the importance of good governance and the importance of doing the best that you possibly can with the resources that you have at your disposal.
As an industry association with members at the heart, it’s critical that we provide value to members, facilitate and fosters meaningful connections, provide learning and development opportunities and act ethically at all times, while upholding our fiduciary responsibility.
Good governance is a key component of that, and my role will be to oversee this and keep the Board accountable.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing communication professionals right now, and in the future?
A couple of years ago, I would have had a completely different answer to this.
Due to COVID, I think keeping up with the pace we’ve set for ourselves (or that’s inadvertently been set for us) will be our biggest challenge and the real blurring of boundaries between work and play/rest.
For many professional communicators, we were the frontline for our companies and our clients as we worked on communicating their response to the pandemic. They leaned quite heavily on us, to keep up with the news cycle, which was changing by the minute.
I don’t think we are ever going to be able to take our foot off the pedal, but is the pace for us sustainable? Health and wellbeing is paramount and I’ve seen it put on the backburner in the past 16 months.
The challenge will be to figure out how to prioritise our wellbeing and create healthy boundaries in this new way of working and beyond, and what the responsibility for employers is.
How do you think IABC can help communication professionals overcome these challenges and stay ahead of the game?
I do genuinely believe it is the connections that you build through IABC and the people – the friendships, the mentorships, the guidance – that can be part of the solution. Being able to lean on each other and reach out for guidance and support and genuinely know we’re all in this together. Over the past 12 months, this has been so helpful for me.
IABC’s greatest strength is the global exposure to likeminded people. No person is an island, nobody can operate in silos and for those that are willing, IABC helps to bring silos down.
My most important piece of advice? You get out what you put in.