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.
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.