FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Nancy Arab
June 18, 2013
“Making a difference - done right, it isn’t easy. I have a lot of welts on my back.”, those words from a long time in the trenches emerged from my conversation over coffee for me, tea for she, with Nancy Arab, APR, ABC, FCPRS of Arabesque Communication.
Fun. Not a lot of name dropping, but people in our lives have crossed paths – we’ve been in some similar places and worked with some interesting folks. Pleasantries aside – I wanted to get a better understanding of the world of ‘communication professional in Calgary’ from someone who knows it from the in-house, out-of-house and free-lance perspectives. Readers might recognize her name and ‘not quite place it’. Prior to re-pitching her own tent she spent five years at AESO as Director of Corporate Communications & Stakeholder Relations during a pivotal period for that organization. Her shop of 15 focused on public relations and government relations - but I should start nearer the beginning.
She started in Vancouver – reared and educated there and in Edmonton, career moves of significance in Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, U of A time, taught at the college level (Ryerson and Seneca) in her field, is accredited with more than those letters after her name – she’s worked in radio, TV and newspapers, corporate marketing (West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Delta Chelsea Inn in Toronto, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Bell Canada, Mercer Consulting to name a few), media relations, public affairs – seems she’s done it all but in a very non-linear fashion, driven more by projects than tactical path, moved (most often head-hunted) to new projects, to boom time-Toronto, then back to Calgary.
Her most recent move from AESO has her free-lancing, busy, has clients and having fun.
She prefaced our meeting by saying, “most communications professionals are not good at talking about themselves”.
She did fine. And she took time to answer some of my questions:
What defines life-work balance for you?
. . . trailering (need 3 more provinces and 4 more states – then we’ll have done them all), 1 husband, 2 Rhodesian Ridgebacks, eclectic taste in music, love fishing in Lake Diefenbaker or Rise Lake. An ability to make a difference, helping organizations communicate. Lots of volunteering – put on hold sometimes when I’ve gotten over-involved at some points. I have a collection of Popular Mechanics magazines – from my grandfather starting from 1911. . . fascinating (eg: 1913 story about ‘The Wonder Story of the Panama Canal’, or from 1921 a story on the modern day camper – amazing stuff’.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
. . . It depends. If it is something that won’t matter at all in 5 years, then it isn’t worth losing sleep over or worrying much about.
I asked Nancy how she sees business over the next 90 days?
. . . stakeholders are more educated than ever – communicating strategically is essential
. . . and over the next 5 years?
There is a great role to play with enlightened organizations - social media is very important for some, but issues management is more immediate than ever. There is an opportunity to get ahead of the curve, to be better prepared than ever to address any issue that might come up – because when it does, it is instant. But instantaneous social media is not always true, or representative and often gets it wrong. We have to be prepared for anything, for everything, a crisis plan, having a message crafted for ‘what if?’ situations.
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life?
… parents – dad was in sales and marketing, mom an executive assistant, sportscaster John Wells and his wife were hugely supportive early on, great quotes from Richard Branson, Bart Mindszenthy a mentor/guru in communications, working for the Ghermezians at Triple 5 – showed me ‘nothing was impossible’
What are you reading?
. . . I read voraciously, 2 or 3 on the go at any time – Inferno by Dan Brown, Deliver Us From Evil by David Baldacci, Domination by Naseem Javed, The Quest by Daniel Yergin are in the current pile – and, on order, Space Chronicles: Facing The Ultimate Frontier by Neil deGrasse Tyson
. . . I love driving my 2010 Mustang convertible, my Hyundai Sonata, truck + 5th wheel for long trailering trips
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