By Jeannette Palmer
Tommasina Conte has been a member of IABC London for 12 years, where she feels that being a member allows her to “feel connected” to her professional community.
She has experienced many positive advantages by having an ABC membership, as Tommasina has attended two IABC world conferences in Toronto over the past years. She also understands that the communications department in many offices is often overlooked. “I think it’s fair to say that communication employees tend to be the minority in an organization; I like being able to plug into the IABC community for a quick scan or instinct check,” said Conte.
For the past seven years, Tommasina has been the manager of Strategic Communication & Engagement with Oxford County in Woodstock. She reports directly to the CAO and supports the senior team across all programs and services, including public health, public works, planning, human services, human resources and more. This may sound overwhelming to you, but Tommasina would disagree.
“I feel lucky that I love my job and that no two days at work are the same. Most PR people I know have short attention spans– doing the same thing every day the same way makes for a very long day,” said Conte.
Work-life and passion
Tommasina also loves the variety of work that goes hand-in-hand with her passion for communication.
“I like it all. Issues management is so comprehensive and evolving– I like the challenge of knowing you can never know it all.”
An important project that Tommasina is very proud of was the opportunity to create her own ‘dream team’ of professional communicators for Oxford County. “People have said I have a team of superstars and it’s absolutely true: Melissa Poulin, Adam Nyp and Brett Kelly,” all who Tommasina regard with the utmost respect…and with a sense of humour.
“I can’t take credit for their talents, but I think I have an eye for talent that may or may not have spoiled the organization… (not really: our clients are also pretty great).”
After the 9-5 and in the community
At work, Tommasina is a communications expert, but at home, she is Mom to her 7- and 11-year-old kids. She still finds time within her busy schedule to volunteer in her community and she anticipates to do more in the future.
“I’ve done some short-term volunteer projects and served as a board member supporting one of my children’s activities, but I hope to give back to the community through a couple of local organizations to which I feel connected,” said Conte.
Through her job with Oxford County, Tommasina sits on two committees that support community sustainability endeavors and she is very excited about their efforts: “this has been exciting work to watch unfold.”
Advice for new communicators
Tommasina offers some great advice for those who are just starting out in their communications careers and it starts at the bottom: “There’s an element of wading through grunt work when you’re starting out, but I think that’s when you establish core values and even specialized interests.”
“I started at an agency in Toronto working under someone who probably holds one of the most senior roles that exists in North America in the profession — I still remember lessons and advice from the people I worked with there, at Union Gas in Toronto, London Health Sciences Centre.”
It’s been a delight interviewing with Tommasina, and it’s clear a key takeaway stands true: Hold on to everything learned, both positive and negative, because someday you too could lead a superstar communications team.