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5 minutes with Amy Baird ABC

So, you've just hit a major milestone – ten years membership with IABC Victoria. What do you do to mark the occasion? You subject yourself to the griller that is IABC's '5 minutes' segment. Madness!

 

Hi Amy. Can you tell us about your role? What keeps you busy?

I’m the Culture and Communications Manager at AIA Australia which involves managing all the internal communications channels and cultural programs such as employee engagement, corporate social responsibility and health and wellness.  I also run large scale events such as launches and cultural change programs.

 

How do the Culture and Communications functions align at AIA and what do you believe are the benefits of integrating them into a single function?

I realise that my role is a bit of a unique one! I’ve spent my communications career bouncing between Marketing and HR departments (often within the same company) and I think the two disciplines have a lot to offer each other.  If you take a holistic view of organisations, I think the most successful ones are those that have a strong alignment between what they say to the market, what they say to employees and the culture that they foster internally. Ensuring that your processes, structure and communications are all aligned and supporting your external messaging will only strengthen your brand positioning and ensure that no matter what touchpoint a customer uses, the experience will be consistent and truly ‘live’ the brand.

Regardless of reporting lines, a strong relationship with both the HR  and Marketing departments is key for me. In essence, both functions are about engaging and aligning people to a common message/purpose.  Having responsibility for employee comms and culture integrated into a single function enables me to have a more holistic view of what’s happening and to leverage the activities of each to support the other.

 

This month, we're focusing on the priorities for the coming year. What do you see as your big priorities for 2014?

We’re building up to the launch of a very exciting initiative early this year, which I can’t say too much about, but we have a very eager team looking forward to it hitting the market!  In addition to this we’re looking at our accommodation strategy as we’re growing quite rapidly and will soon be outgrow where we are. Physical environment can have a huge impact on communication and ways of working so I’m really keen to ensure that our new offices enable and encourage our desired culture.   

 

You've been a member of IABC for ten years, which is a great achievement. In your view, how has the profession changed over the last ten years?

I think it’s changed a lot! Ten years ago very few people seemed to know what ‘Internal Communications’ was.  Add to that the growth of digital technologies and social media and the channels have changed immensely.  The only thing unchanged however is the core premise – to engage and educate people – which remains as true today as ever.

 

What would be your advice to someone starting out in communications today?

This is going to sound obvious, but the ability to truly put yourself in the position of your audience, whoever that may be will really make you stand out.  Almost everyone can write, but those who truly put themselves in the shoes of the recipient and take the time to anticipate their questions, think about what the recipient will want next and what the impact of the message will be, really set themselves apart.  As I say it sounds obvious, but candidates who do this will really jump out of the crowd for me.

 

How do you think your IABC membership has helped you over the years?

My first introduction to the IABC was putting together a Gold Quill submission (I can’t believe it was ten years ago!).  As soon as I found out the scale of the IABC and the range of activities/events that the Association offered I was keen to join. In my experience, having a Gold Quill on my resume has offered a point of difference.  For those familiar with the IABC it’s an acknowledgement that your work is of a certain standard. For those that aren’t familiar, it often prompts a question which is a fantastic opportunity to share a piece of work I’m particularly proud of.

In 2011, I undertook Executive ABC Accreditation in the United States.  It was a phenomenal week that enabled me to spend time with inspiring communications professionals from around the world. The whole week was a great reminder that regardless of the country, industry or profession of our various audiences, at the heart of it all the principles of communication remain the same.

Last year I was fortunate enough to be part of the Blue Ribbon Panel for Gold Quill judging which was a real privilege.  There’s a lot of talented communications professional here in Australia and I’m keen to see many more Australians among the winners in 2014!

I think the most valuable aspect throughout all of my IABC experiences is the opportunity to stay across what’s happening outside my immediate company.  When you’re working day-to-day there are always competing priorities so it’s nice to take time to step back.  Keeping your networks broad and being across the latest advances in the industry is valuable at every stage of your career.

 

A communications professional with over 14 years’ experience, Amy is passionate about the engagement and motivation of internal audiences. Based in Melbourne, she has worked in large corporations across Banking and Telecommunications such as Telstra, NAB and Ericsson.  In 2005/2006 Amy took departure from the corporate sector to manage the Engagement and Communication Strategy for the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Workforce. Attaining Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) status in 2011, Amy has since mentored a number of people through the program. Enthusiastic about the Communications profession she is the proud recipient of 2 Gold Quill awards and in 2013 joined the Gold Quill Asia Pacific Blue Ribbon judging panel. Amy is currently the Culture and Communications Manager at AIA Australia, a leading Asia Pacific life insurance organization.

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