IABC Boston’s new VP of Finance is Victoria Dew. Born and raised in Boston, she has recently returned to the area after more than 10 years living and working in New Zealand. She currently serves as the Immediate Past Chair of IABC Asia-Pacific (APAC) and Immediate Past President of IABC Wellington, as well as on the IABC Finance Committee.
How did you begin practicing communications in New Zealand?
I had been a film and television writer and producer in Los Angeles before moving to Wellington, and I was lucky enough to make a very smooth transition into corporate communications – it’s really many of the same skill sets, but with a more strategic business focus.
What were your communications roles in New Zealand?
Over the past nine years I’ve done almost everything in communications! My work has included executive and internal communications, media, crisis communications, branding and marketing, political communications, and stakeholder relations. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have had really diverse industry and sector experience, including financial and professional services, defense, IT, natural resources preventative health, insurance, even culture and heritage – I was the Communications Manager for the National Library of New Zealand at one point! Most recently, I worked for New Zealand’s world-leading personal injury insurance company. It’s illegal to sue for injury there – everything from car accidents to kids falling out of trees is covered by this company, so my work communicating in injury prevention was fascinating and so rewarding.
Are there differences in the practice of communications between New Zealand and the United States?
I’ve been involved in the global IABC community for nearly 10 years, and have attended the last four World Conferences, and what I’ve observed – and what made me really excited to come back to the US – was that while the scale here may be greater than in Australia and New Zealand, the work is very much the same. I’ve also realized the tremendous value of bringing together international perspectives on strategic communications – we’ve all got a slightly different context and lens to apply to the same issues, and the IABC gives us the opportunity to be better practitioners. I’m so excited to be able to contribute my global communications experience to the Boston IABC community.
Does the IABC have a strong presence in New Zealand?
The IABC is very strong in Australia and New Zealand. In fact, IABC APAC (which also includes all of Asia) brought home more than 40 Gold Quills this year, and sent about 75 delegates to World Conference in San Francisco. The Wellington chapter has about 110 members. We run monthly events that are always very well attended, and the chapter is regarded as the pre-eminent professional development provider for senior practitioners in the market. We work closely with our Australian counterparts, and often collaborate to bring speakers over from the US – it’s not a hard sell!
Where do you see the Communications profession heading?
One of the most rewarding aspects of my work over the past decade has been seeing the communications function truly elevated in companies. Communicators are no longer “order takers” and are now increasingly trusted advisers to senior leadership. The practice has become much more sophisticated, strategic, and nuanced. I’ve especially loved seeing the shift in internal communications – it’s so much more than employee newsletters now; that function is really about “branding from the inside out” and empowering employees to be your biggest advocates. Social Media has obviously been a massive enabler of this shift, and it’s so exciting to be a part of.
How has the IABC helped your career?
The IABC has been invaluable in growing my career. First, there are the formal professional development opportunities, and I’m especially excited about the new Certification program that will help practitioners ensure that they are relevant and vital to business throughout their careers. However, for me, being able to work with other passionate comms people around the globe has given me skills and experience that no “day job” ever could. A longtime member said to me once, “Everything you put into IABC, you get back a thousand-fold. You meet amazing colleagues who become lifelong friends.” This has absolutely been my experience, and I’m so looking forward to being part of the Boston chapter.
What have you enjoyed most about being back in Boston?
It’s been amazing spending time with family and friends. And I’ve loved summer –it never gets this hot in Wellington – we have penguins there! My favorite memories of my first summer home are time on the Cape with family, and frequent swims at Walden Pond. Some things around here never change, and others have changed a lot while I’ve been away!