By Jacquelynn Twarzynski, ABC

So how does it feel to get a membership renewal letter from IABC, congratulating you on 25 years with the organization?

Well, my first reaction when I opened the letter from IABC headquarters last month was “sheesh, has it really been 25 years already?” And yes, it has indeed already been that long since I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed UofC student, eager to meet anyone and everyone in the profession I hoped to pursue.

Now I’d like to think I’m still quite bright-eyed, always enjoying new adventures as a consultant, and looking forward to writing the SCMP exam this fall. But over these years, the passion has evolved, for both my career and my professional organization.

Jacquelynn Twarzynski reflects on her 25 year career in the communications industry with IABC.

I recall wanting to pursue a member survey back in the day, as a keen co-director of the IABC/Calgary events team, to find out why some members were not coming out to more of our amazing events. What were we missing?

The answer that I didn’t appreciate then but understand so clearly now is that there are many seasons within a career, and within our lives. At this stage, my commitment is deep although the hours available to participate are smaller.

I’m grateful for the tight-knit community of fellow communicators who I bonded with over the 10 or so years I served on the IABC/Calgary board. They are lifelong friends. And for many, we’ve wrestled with the ongoing journey of a career in communications.

Like me, a number of colleagues have come to a point where they question whether they’re still excited enough about communications to keep going. After my kids were born, I contemplated changing gears altogether. But instead, I chose to branch out into other streams, to find new ways to keep the spark of everyday work alive.

I continue to take courses in several disciplines, especially adult education, project management, emergency management, and organizational change management. As I write that list, it sounds like a hodge podge of skills. But this mix I’ve pursued is why I continue to be invited to the table – some very interesting tables.

As an employee and as a consultant, I’ve realized I get the greatest adrenaline rush when there is a substantial problem to solve. To build a new team, to overhaul a team who needs new direction, to evaluate the whole function within a national organization, to help prepare for or address complex issues, to merge two companies – these and so many more scenarios continue to feed my interest in my career.

It’s not for everyone, this life as a consultant. Where some like to get deep into a company and spend years leading teams and moving programs forward, I enjoy jumping in the deep end, learning new industries and corporate cultures, and finding solutions that fit.

And that has broadened my horizons and taken me places in my career I couldn’t have foreseen when I purchased my first IABC student membership 25 years ago.

Jacquelynn Twarzynski, ABC is the president of Red Star Communications, a Calgary and area communications consultancy. For over 25 years she has helped organizations plan upfront – to understand their communications landscape, build strong messaging, engage employees effectively, and deliver what stakeholders deserve and expect.


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