IABC Canada’s Master Communicator designation (MC) is the highest honour IABC Canada can bestow on an individual member and recognizes a person’s body of work to advance the profession, uphold the Global Standard, and contribute to IABC.

This designation recognizes outstanding Canadian communication professionals whose work has brought credit to the profession, their organization or clients, and whose contributions have raised the standards of communication in Canada. In the designation’s 44 years, just 65 communications professionals have been named Master Communicators.

IABC/Calgary warmly congratulates our member, Sue Ridewood, ABC, MC, on receiving this prestigious designation in February 2024. Ghalib Sumar, Co-Director of Member Communications (Newsletter and Blog) for IABC/Calgary interviewed Sue on this designation, and we are pleased to share this with all of our members.

Sue Ridgewood wins IABC Canada’s Master Communicator designation
Sue Ridewood Photo Credit: Riley Brandt

IABC Member since: 1980

Current Position: Assistant Editor, UCalgary News, University of Calgary

Number of years in current position: Three and a half

LinkedIn Profile:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sueridewood/

Instagram: @susesuestudio

Q: Can you briefly tell us how you got into the communications profession, where your career has taken you, and what your best piece of advice is for others in the profession?

A: I have always loved words (some would say lots of them!) and since I was a little kid I’ve wanted to do work that involved writing. After high school I took a (now ancient) two-year diploma in Public Relations at Mount Royal College (now university) where I learned more about the other parts of communications, but I strongly believe writing is still the most important skill a communications professional can have.

I worked in corporate comms for 15 years and then embarked on a freelance/consulting career that took me until a few years ago when I found my place at UCalgary. I’ve always focused my efforts on doing the things I love – and always with a strategic focus.

My best piece of advice is to be a continuous learner – stay curious, look for opportunities to grow your skills and strategic thinking, volunteer, take courses if you want, grow a network of communications professionals, stay on top of best practices, be a good listener.

Q: What is the best part of having a career in communications? What advice would you give to someone who is new to the field?

A: For me the best part is knowing my work makes a difference to an organization’s reputation. Understanding the huge responsibility we all have to “get it right,” knowing what’s at stake if we don’t. Making clarity out of complexity – whether you have accountability for an entire strategy or for one piece. And the most important part: The people I’ve been lucky enough to meet, learn from, work with and for, and become friends with over my career.

My advice: It doesn’t matter if it’s your first day in your first job, or if you’ve been around for a while, take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow. Being an IABC member is a terrific start. Be an active member, go to events, volunteer, apply for the IABC Calgary mentorship program, don’t be shy! We were all the new person once.

Q: You have an impressive track record of involvement within IABC, serving in roles ranging from the Mentorship program, to serving on various regional and international boards and committees. Can you share personally where you feel like you have made the most impact?

A: Mentorship, hands down. Leadership, at its very core, is mentorship. You don’t have to be in a formal leadership role to share your thoughts and experience, or to ask for someone’s thoughts and advice whether they’re a formal leader or just someone you respect. Through formal initiatives like IABC Calgary’s Chapter Management Award-winning program, members and member-adjacent communicators can dig deep into the science and magic of communications – both mentors and mentees report great success with the program. I’d love to see many of your names this fall when I do the pair matching for the program. That’s one of my enduring joys.

Q: You have been intimately involved with IABC/Calgary’s Mentorship program since 2013 and continue to do so. Why do you think having a mentor is so important? How has mentorship changed your life professionally?

A: As cliché as it sounds, we all have more to learn, and we all have something to share. I would not be where I am in my career, or with the MC designation, without mentorship from others in my field, and from opportunities I’ve had to mentor others. Both offer learning and growth. We truly are better together.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a Master Communicator one day?

A: Whether you want to become a Master Communicator, or simply expand your experience as a professional communicator, you can use the MC Nomination Guidelines as a helpful professional development tool. And then: Volunteer. Get your CMP or SCMP certification. Enter your work into Silver Leaf and Gold Quill awards. Offer to evaluate those awards. Get to know people in the profession. Know that what you put into your profession and your career, you’ll get back tenfold. Don’t forget your sense of humour.

Q: Any last words? Or something you want to share with the IABC/Calgary membership base?

A: Someone once said that my mantra is “Audience and Objectives” – no matter what you’re doing, if you keep those two things in mind, you’ll work at a more strategic level where your work will really count. If it’s not made clear to you what those things are, regardless of what your part of a project or assignment might be, ask!

We thank Sue for taking the time to share her exceptional story with us and deeply congratulate her on achieving the Master Communicator designation! To learn more about this designation, please click here.

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