Member Spotlight

For this member spotlight, we interviewed Carl Zangerl, Faculty Director, Communication and HRM Programs and Associate Teaching Professor at Northeastern University.

Why did you join IABC?

I felt a bit isolated within my organization and wanted to connect with other professionals who were interested in learning more about communication and trends in the field. The Boston chapter is a great venue for doing that.

You have extensive communications experience. How did you decide that the communications field was for you and how did you get your start?

I actually began my long corporate career at New England Financial/MetLife in the strategic planning department. Then the head of sales asked me to write speeches for him, which over time led to a range of communication-related roles: Writer, webmaster, meeting facilitator, email marketer, and ultimately the manager of the communication team.

What have you learned over the years that you wish you had known in starting out as a communications professional?

Count the ways! I wish I’d pursued a graduate education in organizational communication – that would have helped me conceptualize communication dynamics, focus on measurable outcomes, and understand the importance of developing relationships with my business partners. Yes, I know that sounds like an advert for graduate programs, but it’s true.

How important is it to ensure both internal and external communications are aligned at a company? How do you ensure alignment?

As the line between internal and external audiences continues to blur, the alignment of communication messages has never been more important. Building horizontal networks between communication functions, however, requires constant attention and nurturing. Bridging silos is hard work.

What’s one communications project you executed that you’re particularly proud of?

We just recently sponsored a symposium on the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Talent Strategy at Northeastern. An event of this kind takes a lot of coordination and teamwork. Crafting messages to our target audiences, leveraging social media, developing a digital white paper – all this allowed me to practice some of the things I teach. It also enabled me to experiment with Twitter – follow us @CPSComm!

 You are now a professor of communications. What’s the most important lesson you try to teach young communicators?

There are so many lessons! Communication is fundamentally about relationships with your target audiences and how to strengthen those relationships. Always keep in mind the ‘big picture,’ how communication supports your organization’s performance. Focus on the impact of your communication activities on attitudes and behaviors.

 What advice would you give to those students hoping to break into the communications world as professionals?

A few months ago, I asked Gizem Weggemans, the head of the communication search practice at Egon Zehnder, that very question. Her advice was: Be curious. She believes that’s the number one indicator of career potential. I’d encourage everyone to be curious, for instance, about the implications of AI-related technologies for society, for the workplace, and for the role of communication in this era of digital disruption. There’s never been a more exciting time to be a communicator!