Claudia Miller, Principal ADirections and President of the IABC Orange County. She won the International IABC Leader of the Year award in 2017. Picture was from the IABC 2018 Leadership Institute in Dallas.

Claudia Miller, Principal ADirections and President of the IABC Orange County. She won the International IABC Leader of the Year award in 2017. Picture was from the IABC 2017 Leadership Institute in Dallas.

Ok, we can’t ignore this. Just exactly how do you pronounce your last name?
Lol the trick is that you break it down to four names and say it really fast – WICK- RAMA- SIN-HA. Sri Lankan names are long and difficult to pronounce. I love my name no matter what, as it a great conversation starter. When I meet someone new, they ask the same question you asked, “so how do you pronounce your name, or “what’s the history behind your name”. Really it’s just a typical last name in Sri Lanka.

Between student and professional life, you’ve been with The University of Winnipeg for more than 10 years. What drew you to the campus and what keeps you passionate about it?
Since my first year at the University of Winnipeg as a new international student from Sri Lanka, I received enormous support from friends, professors and staff. I still keep in touch with everyone who supported me and who truly made a difference in my Canadian life. Without them, things would have been difficult. There are some people who work 9-5, and some people who go above and beyond to help others. I met the latter at UWinnipeg. So working here, I get to pay it forward; to help students to have a positive university life. That’s what keeps me passionate.

How did you become involved with IABC? What made you decide to take the leap to Vice-President? What is it like to be the Vice-President?
I went to an IABC orientation and loved the fact that it is an International organization so I decided to join. World is too small to be just local. I’ve been involved with IABC since 2013ish. I have been in various director roles so I thought it’s time to sign the three-year contract of presidency! Lol does this sound too presidential?  In my first six months, starting with an application in December, you first represent the chapter at Leadership Institute in February, then represent the chapter at Dare2Lead in May, and then co-lead the Strategic Planning Session with the executive in July. All while managing your original / current portfolio. But I knew this going in.

As much as the portfolio has its responsibilities, it also comes with a lot of perks. Networking with top calibre communications professionals at once in a life time conferences makes the commitment worth it.  The conferences are leadership oriented where we learn best practices from neighbouring the IABC Canada West Chapters. If you need help with questions about your portfolios, we have chapter leaders from Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Regina to step in and help.

You must work closely with IABC President Roland Pajares. What’s it like to work with him?
I had the opportunity to work with Roland while he was a student at PACE. Roland volunteered with the PACE Student Life Committee. I could see right away he was goal oriented, driven, and dependable. So when Roland joined the IABC MB, I was the Leadership Development (Volunteer) Director, and I was super happy that he was interested. Roland became an integral part of our team. One thing I appreciate about Roland is that he is a go-getter, he always says ‘yes’ to any exciting program we want to implement for our members in Manitoba.

We’ve noticed you post a lot of awesome selfies on social media. So tell us, who’s got the tastiest selfie jam, Bowman or Trudeau?
It’s a tough one. So can I stay away from the politics and say it’s Obama? 😉

Sure Mekala, we’ll go with that. We won’t tell. But don’t be surprised when Michelle’s team comes knocking on your door. Thanks so much for sitting down with us!