IABC MB President, Mekala Wickramasinghe talks about the First 100 days of presidency with her team and the stellar events and services coming up throughout the year.
So, you have completed first 100 days as IABC MB president. Can you tell us about your experience so far?
Is it 100 days already!? Feels like yesterday when we had the Strategic Planning Session inside a boat (literally) at Marine Museum in Selkirk, Manitoba. Since July, we have been working together to get programming year done. It’s been a fabulous yet a busy quarter.
What’s the highlight of your year?
It’s our diverse and talented team. They bring variety of skills from their educational backgrounds, their passions, and their workplaces. Our board meetings help us face our challenges together. We are an operational board. That means we are unpaid volunteers. And this term is the busiest in everyone’s day jobs. Yet, we have been putting 10-20 hours on some weeks on making sure that we have the best services ahead.
Your team is wonderful. What are the key steps you take when planning the programs and events?
First, we did a Strategic Planning Retreat, a full day event in a fun place. We had a third-party facilitator and the chair of the IABC Canada West Region. We looked at how the past year went, assessed the feedback through member survey, researched what’s going on currently in Manitoba Communications industry and the world to determine the needs of our members. But it’s not ending there, we continue to get feedback from our members through emails and phone calls. With this information, we plan the events, and programs that bring the best value for members.
That sounds great! No wonder that IABC MB is one of the top chapters with highest retention rates.
Not just one of the tops. We ranked the 1st place last week for a medium chapter with the highest retention rate. It means a lot to us. For years, IABC MB has been working to provide the best experience to members through pragmatic Professional Development events. Our selection of speakers brings ideas that our audience can take back to their workplaces and use them to drive better results in their daily work. That’s our brand, and we will continue to build that trust with our members.
That’s amazing – Congratulations to you and the team! Tell us more about your IABC life.
I joined IABC to get myself immersed into the communications world that I was bit intimidated to join. Being educated in another language for 18 years, I had to do a lot of work into communicating in English, despite the ideas or plans I have in my head. So IABC helped me to express myself as a professional by learning from the incredibly talented communicators from around the world, and through many professional development benefits such as monthly webinars, and unlimited resources through the online library.
You probably know this question is coming. This year, you won an international award.
Yes – I won a Gold Quill Merit Award for the University of Winnipeg, Professional, Applied and Continuing Education Cultural Night I planned with the Student Life Committee. I was pleasantly surprised as it was my first award submission, and I wanted to get my work evaluated. So, when you expect an email with criticism, and you get an email saying “congratulations, you won”, it’s a pretty surreal moment. I remember running to my boss’s office and both of us were in tears! Seriously, if you have a project close to your heart, you must submit it for Gold Quill! The deadlines are coming soon. Hurry up! If you win, you get a free ticket to the Gold Quill Gala at the World Conference . What an amazing reason to go to Vancouver next year!?
What a fabulous achievement, and a case study of a phenomenal experiential learning opportunity for students? Please tell us more about your board history.
I joined the board because I was a fan of all things IABC Manitoba board did at that time. But what have kept me for so long is the regional and international collaborations. As board members, if you are committed, you get to attend a regional training conference called Dare to Lead. If you are incoming VP or President, you get to attend an International Conference called Leadership Institute, where you also get awards for chapter’s achievements. I got to attend three conferences in Orlando, Dallas, and San Diego at no cost. You cannot receive this kind of support from any other organization. The work ethic of IABC comes from the top, from the International Committee to Canada West Region (IABC MB’s region), to the chapters. We all work together with a common goal – To provide the best of the best Professional Development, and Career Advancement.
Thank you for taking time to chat with the marketing team. What are you excited about in coming months?
Thank you for asking – here is a list of some thoughtfully planned events for our members and other professional communicators in Manitoba:
For emerging professionals who are keen to have a seat at the table, or for those who have a seat and want to shine, this is a must attend event from a highly sought-after comms expert, and a mentor, Priya Bates.
November 15 – Special Interest Group (Free event for members) @ Promanade Cafe
December 6 – IABC MB Christmas Mixer at the RWB Lobby
Expect to have an unimaginable evening of fun and professional networking experience planned by Membership Team.
Date TBA – Professional Development Event – Currently in Planning
Date TBA – Chapter Leaders Awards Gala for current and past board members
Date TBA – Special Interest Group
Date TBA – CMP Exam
March 6 – How leaders spark or destroy employee engagement by one of Canada’s most powerful women, Kellie Garrett
Date TBA – Full Day Conference
Date TBA – Behind the scenes of Nelson Mandela Exhibit with CMHR
Date TBA – 2019-20 elected team heading to Edmonton Dare to Lead Conference
Date TBA – AGM