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2017 President’s Report

5 Dec 2017

This is a copy of the 2017 President’s report tabled at the Annual General Meeting of the IABC Canberra.

It’s been a busy year for IABC Canberra.

Professional development

We ran a full events calendar which included:

  • Feb-17 IABC Welcome Back Drinks
    A great start to the year with 40 or so communicators meeting in the beautiful Australian National Botanical Gardens to connect, converse and hear about the gig-economy from Commtract
  • Apr-17 Engaging with Government – perspectives from both sides of the fence
    Simon Westaway, CEO of the Australian Livestock Exporters Council, shared his experience working both sides of the government fence.
  • May-17 Government Communication: A UK Perspective
    A massive event held in conjunction with the Institute of Public Administration Australia saw nearly 200 communicators and policy makers come together to hear from Alex Aiken, head of government communications in the UK.
  • May-17 Leadership in Public Sector Communications
    We leveraged Alex Aiken’s visit to Canberra with a luncheon for heads of communication function in federal government. This “in camera” conversation tackled the tough issues faced by departments in a post-truth world.
  • May-17 Evaluation in Public Sector Communications
    Alex Aiken also facilitated a round table discussion for communication leaders on evaluation and measurement in public sector communications.
  • Aug-17 Crafting and telling the story of your strategy
    Another blockbuster event with Shawn Callahan from Anecdote sharing immediately usable tools we can all use to help communicate strategy to our organisations.
  • Sep-17 IABC International Chair
    We ran a number of events with Sharon Hunter, Chair of the International Association of Business Communicators. These included meeting with our Board and communication leaders of government departments, universities and corporates.
  • Sep-17 Everybody’s talking at me
    Prof Jim Macnamara from the University of Technology rounded off our year’s professional development calendar with a presentation of his research on how organisations listen. Jim shared astounding insights and a process for improving listening in our own organisations.
  • Nov-17 End of year celebration

A hard working Board

Your Board met eight times through the calendar year to plan our professional development program and manage the business of the chapter. I am thankful for the service of

  • Leanne Joyce, Past President
  • Alison Senti, Treasurer
  • Christina Janchek, VP Membership
  • Michael Liu, VP Events
  • Prem Vasudevan, VP Communications
  • Llewella Jago, Board member

As well as those who left our Board during the year after many years of service

  • Jeanne Klener, Secretary
  • Jane Weatherley, CP Communications
  • Mardi Stewart, VP Membership
  • Marina Simoncini, President
  • Kim Ulrich, VP Professional Development
  • Sophie Drew, VP Events

I am sad to see Leanne Joyce leave the Board after five years of service. Her wisdom, experience and connections have been of enormous value to me personally and the Board more generally throughout the year. Our organisation and our profession are better for her service to IABC at a local and regional level.


Our membership as at time of writing is 75, although we interact with a wider network of about 500 communicators in Canberra. Corporate memberships are a valuable offering from IABC and increasing their take-up will be one of the topics to be addressed by your new Board in 2018.

Part of a global organisation

IABC Canberra is part of the Asia Pacific Region of the IABC and some of our members attended the first regional conference held in Singapore in August. Our Past President, Leanne Joyce was part of the organising committee and with her fellow committee members did an outstanding job in putting on a first class conference. I look forward to the conference coming to Melbourne in 2018.

I attended the IABC Leadership Institute in Dallas, Texas in February to learn more about running a chapter and the inner workings of the association. The connections I formed there were very valuable and will form the basis of friendship over the coming years. I acknowledge and am thankful for the stipend provided by our chapter to assist defray travel expenses for this trip.

I also attended the IABC World Conference in Washington DC in June. This was a wonderful event and allowed me to form relationships with other IABC members and conference speakers. It was at this event that I met Shawn Callahan and was able to invite him to Canberra to present his work on storytelling.

Vision for 2018

While I don’t want to pre-empt the work and decisions of our 2018 Board, I will be suggesting some topics for discussion when we meet to discuss our 2018 program. These include

Membership – can we put together a corporate membership package that assists departments manage the professional development of their communication professionals that includes training, professional development, certification and the awards program?

Development and recognition – we look forward to understanding the key professional development needs of our members, as well as building stronger links with academia. We will encourage greater involvement with IABC’s Gold Quill excellence program.

Program – can we refine our program and create mini-series to entice multiple attendances from non-members? For example, can we leverage the success of the storytelling event with different aspects of storytelling, and create a mini-series of three events throughout the year.

Packaging – can we normalise attending IABC events? For example, can we offer a subscription to the year’s events?

Charity – can we make the event program bigger than ourselves? For example, can we donate a portion of each ticket sale to a charity or allow attendees to voluntarily contribute to the charity when they buy their ticket?

Closing thoughts

In doing all of this, it’s important to remember why we are doing it. Our professional development program is one of the big value items to the communications community in Canberra. It provides a forum to learn, to connect and to understand the broader place of a professional body to represent and foster the interests of communicators and the organisations we serve.

We are also grateful to our corporate sponsors: Isentia and Rowdy Digital who have helped deliver our program in 2017.

I’m hopeful that by broadening the appeal of our professional development program, we can build a stronger chapter.

A stronger chapter draws a greater pool of talent.

A greater pool of talent improves our Board and our volunteer network.

Leading to better ideas and strategies.

It’s these better ideas, the stronger chapter and the growing professionalism of our community that will ensure our success this year and in the years to come.


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