An advocate for the global community of communications practitioners, Ed Kamrin has served as an IABC chapter leader for the past five years. As a former SF IABC president, he has learned the importance of strategic partnerships and, as a communications professional, he reminds us that resilience is key.
Ed began his career teaching English abroad, and he is now in healthcare communications at McKesson in San Francisco. Over the years, IABC has helped Ed to grow immensely as a leader, partner, and advocate in the communications profession. He recently described his career trajectory and his continued involvement with SF IABC.
How did you first become involved with IABC?
I was introduced to IABC by a past boss, Paul Matalucci, ABC, president of Wordwright Communications. An ardent supporter of IABC, Paul encouraged his employees to become involved in the chapter and provided membership to us all. I began by raising my hand to evaluate award entries and eventually earned two Silver Quills of my own. I also attended some evening programs and thoroughly enjoyed the people I met. In 2010, I decided to apply for the VP, Finance and Operations, role on our chapter board, and since then there’s been no looking back.
What did you find most rewarding as the 2013 – 14 president of IABC’s SF chapter?
Our chapter board is living proof that a rising tide lifts all boats. During my year as president, I had the opportunity to see how closely the board committees work together to create a year of educational programming and networking opportunities for our membership, and I gained a deeper appreciation for the talent of our board members. I was also pleased to see the board continue its multi-year trend toward increased partnership with other organizations, such as our sister chapter in Silicon Valley, the San Francisco PRSA chapter, and Meetup groups. While SF IABC has a unique, valuable mission, these partnerships are important because they help expand the reach of our programming and provide members with broader networking opportunities.
How has your IABC membership helped you in your career?
On a practical level, I was introduced to my current company by an IABC colleague, so I can certainly say that membership has been helpful! Membership has also helped me in deeper ways. By entering award programs and evaluating entries, I developed an appreciation for communications excellence and higher standards for my own work. Through board service, IABC has grown my leadership skills and made me a more effective advocate for the value of our work. For a long time, I envied my friends in licensed professions such as nursing, law, and architecture; as an unlicensed profession, communications somehow felt less real and legitimate. Through IABC, I have come to understand communications management as a true profession with a body of knowledge, standards for practice, and a global community of practitioners, and I am proud to call myself a communicator.
You were the Hospitality Task Force Chair for IABC’s 2015 World Conference. What did you enjoy most in this role?
The Task Force was a joint project of SF IABC and the Silicon Valley IABC chapter. While we’ve worked together in the past, the Task Force was a unique opportunity to join forces on a six-month project. I enjoyed being part of a close team of incredible volunteers. They brought passion and commitment to a complex planning process, and it was an honor to be associated with them. As part of the Task Force, I also had the opportunity to partner directly with IABC headquarters staff and learn more about IABC at the international level.
You have more than 15 years’ experience in communications strategy, with an emphasis on healthcare. What excites you about this area of expertise and what have you found challenging?
I was never much of a science student and get queasy around blood and guts, but in my small way, I saw that I could help improve people’s health while doing work that I loved. I enjoy spending time with health professionals and admire their commitment and selflessness. Healthcare is a complex sector, and that has satisfied a need for intellectual challenge, whether it’s deciphering the inner workings of a health plan or understanding the nuances of the drug development process. What excites me most these days is the intersection of healthcare and technology and how bringing those sectors together can help advance preventive medicine and increase access to care.
What is the best piece of professional advice you have received?
Resilience is everything. In a communications career, there will always be changes, whether it’s an economic downturn, a sudden role shift or reorganization at work, or the inner sense that it’s time to move on. I expect to work for a long time to come, and I don’t expect the pace of change to slow. But the quicker one can adapt to a new reality, the easier it is to keep moving forward professionally and personally.
You will be a new member of the IABC Pacific Plains Region board. How do you plan to make an impact in this role? What do you hope to gain from this experience?
The PPR board focuses on developing chapter leaders and providing chapters with resources to help them achieve success. My five years as a chapter leader have transformed my career, and I’ve benefited first-hand from the resources IABC offers leaders, such as the annual Leadership Institute conference. I would like to help extend this experience to other leaders and “pay it forward”. As a recent chapter president, I have an appreciation for the complex environment, for not only communications professionals, but also membership associations as a whole. In a world where networking is informal (think Meetup groups) and content is widely available, organizations such as IABC need to continue to communicate our value. I believe in the work of IABC, and I would like to help equip chapters with resources to remain viable and relevant in a changing landscape.
What’s something that most IABC colleagues may not know about you?
Most don’t know that my first job after college was teaching music and English to kindergarteners in Valkeakoski, Finland. Though it was fun, it was without a doubt the toughest job of my career; 5-year-olds have a true talent for organizing among themselves. It also left me with lifelong respect for teachers and the parents of young children.