While some people can’t remember not knowing what they want to do for a living and others stumble into meaningful work, Kristin McVeigh was of a third category.
“I was one of those people who didn’t get out of high school thinking, ‘I want to be a comms professional,’” recalls the new VP of IABC/Calgary. “I started at university in psychology so it was a really thought-out plan to get here; it was a journey for me to find out exactly what I want to do and how to go about doing that.”
After establishing her career in charity communications, McVeigh joined IABC/Calgary in 2014 and jumped in head first to what she remembers as a wealth of support and benefits to membership.
“I joined the mentorship program as a mentee and I can thank my mentor for the journey I’ve had as a volunteer and giving me so much support and helping me build a great network by introducing me to a wide variety of people.”
Through her mentor and new IABC network, McVeigh expanded her career and eventually took a position in communications with the Alberta Motor Association, but not without giving back to the organization and program that had shaped her industry awareness, education and career.
“I experienced first hand the value of being a member of IABC. It’s not just a place to network in order to find a job, although there is help with that along with resume building, advice, networking, etc. But it’s far more. It’s a place to help build skills, gain further education in communications, certifications, navigate change in your career and the support is always there. Some of our professionals may be the only comms people at their workplace, so this is a place to bounce ideas, find guidance on how to deal with difficult situations at work or challenges facing the industry and find like minds.”
McVeigh was invited to expand her volunteer role to serve as a board member representing the mentorship portfolio.
“I knew the value of volunteering with IABC right from the start and I gravitated to the mentorship program because it’s so great for both mentees and mentors. It had done so much for me that it felt really meaningful to me to give my time to making it even stronger.”
As the mentorship representative, she quickly got to work on an innovative initiative to connect with all the Canadian chapters of IABC in a first-time mentorship event connecting all mentors and mentees across the country virtually.
“It was so well received; everyone got to hear first hand what everyone else is doing across Canada. You assume what mentorship programs look like is similar but it turned out to be totally unique across the country. Some chapters didn’t have a mentorship program so we were able to help them set one up and learn from the group what really works to make the program shine.”
When she was asked to expand her role again to serve as the vice president, McVeigh did not hesitate to join the team led by incoming new president, Rizalyn (Reese) Reyes.
“Seeing it from the inside and knowing how much value the IABC provides to people in our industry, I want to be a big part of that because I’ve found so much value in it. I’m eager because I feel like we’re at a very exciting time – we have expanded on the virtual opportunities but at the same time people have gotten really comfortable meeting in person again and are open to what this new world looks like. People’s lives have changed and that ability to connect in different ways means the boundaries are unlimited and we have a great group keen on exploring how we can best meet people where they’re at. Personally, for me it’s about assessing where our members are at and providing value to where they’re looking to grow in their industry. It’s a matter of being really responsive to that and reaching out and listening and learning from trying different things to see how people want to be involved right now and what is going to provide them with the most meaningful membership experience.”
McVeigh is hoping to encourage all members to get involved and own their part of the success of the organization’s service.
“To get the value out of IABC, it is our responsibility as a board to communicate what is available and as a member to get the value you have to take on an active role as well. The more you learn, the more you are going to understand what you’re looking for, be it networking, information, education, and support. I know for me as soon as I joined, I attended the new member event and that was where I learned about all that was even available – unless you dig in, you won’t get the most out of your membership so the goal is to help our peers do so.”
The recent IABC world conference in New York City where members from across the planet gathered only inspired McVeigh even further on the possibilities of both her role as VP of the Calgary chapter as well as the industry itself.
“It was such an excellent event. I really love this profession. I love my job, I love connecting to people, I’ve met so many wonderful people in this line of work. I love that we’re in a profession that also allows us to be creative, bring our ideas to the table and see all our planning come to fruition and collaborate with great team players.”