Welcome to the Catalyst Member Spotlight series. Catalyst prioritizes sharing members’ stories to showcase the breadth of the IABC community, connect communicators across the globe and elevate personal stories to inspire fellow members. If you’d like to nominate yourself or a standout colleague to be featured in a spotlight, email the Catalyst editors at email@example.com for more information.
Meet IABC member Shane Gillespie, based in the Victoria, Australia, chapter. With 12 years of experience in the field, Shane is an executive manager for people and culture communications at NBN Co Australia. Here, he shares an example of a successful collaboration with the human resources team. Plus, learn the “why” behind one of his favorite professional resources.
Get to know Shane below and connect with him on LinkedIn.
What is the most exciting aspect of your role as a communicator?
What really excites me is diversity — the portfolios, challenges and people I work with. I thrive in a fast-paced environment where I can enable the business to achieve its goals through professional advice, trust and blue-sky thinking. I can facilitate a discussion with leaders, asking them to consider the environment, reputational impacts and what they actually want to achieve, including intangible outcomes. Through consultation, we can deliver highly engaging and transformative communications that speak to the heart of employees and the public.
Tell us about a situation or project that made you feel valued as a communicator.
The head of human resources once asked their leadership team, "Has Shane been consulted and did he approve?" It was a validating moment and, more importantly, made me understand how significant my role is.
The moment followed months of building a relationship and leading communications across several programs ranging from COVID-19 response and hybrid working to annual reviews. I fostered a strong relationship with the head of human resources through that time. Formal meeting cadences shifted from weekly to monthly, where I drove the agenda and focused on critical people topics. Our chats were daily — not to micromanage or share status updates but to check in and provide strategic communications advice.
Think back on a time when you, as a communicator, collaborated with another department to bring a project to life. What made this process successful?
Several years ago, I led change communications for a major transformation project. Effectively, the program brought together multiple changes for how thousands of employees and partner workers operate, including technology, governance, customer interactions and scheduling. The program itself was a puzzle — a complex one. While the business was eager to "just communicate something," I consulted, guided and gave them permission to pause and think about what they needed to deliver and how they could achieve this.
My value was realized when we collaborated and designed a cohesive narrative that guided future communications, change management and leadership. What unfolded was a story people could believe in, reflect on their own behaviors and have a deeper understanding of why the change was necessary. In many ways, it built the reputation of the communicator in the business, the critical role we play and how our strategic guidance is crucial to a company's success.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? Who gave it?
A senior manager, recognizing that I get restless if not challenged, told me, "If you get bored or just feel like you are not giving it your 100%, it's time to move on. But tell me first." In many ways, it was their way of making sure they retained talent. It was also permission to experiment, try new things and put my hand up for new opportunities. Sometimes it isn't about a different job or company, but expanding your skills and capabilities, capitalizing on the intellectual property you gained over years of experience.
Tell us about a favorite resource that helps you stay connected and informed in the industry.
There are so many publications, forums and digital media we can access. I think LinkedIn has become essential for our industry. I was always taught to empower others to be great communicators and effectively make your own role redundant. LinkedIn sees everyone share their expertise, drive change and create a sense of community. Everyone can write, post videos and share their perspectives on various topics.
I don't think the role of the communicator is by any means redundant. Still, we have elevated our role and have more to offer businesses through strategic guidance and mitigating reputational risks.
Interested in joining the IABC community to collaborate with professionals like Shane? Become a member of our global network today.
IABC Staff, Featuring Shane Gillespie