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IABC London Member Spotlight: Colleen Aguilar

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Colleen Aguilar,
Executive Director, Communications & Marketing,
Nelson Education

Where do you work? What is your role, including responsibilities and projects? 

I work at Nelson Education – my role is Executive Director, Communications & Marketing. My responsibilities include brand management and engagement growth, public relations and campaign messaging and measurement through digital and traditional communication campaigns. I oversee platforms and strategies that include product marketing, corporate communications, media relations, social media, our product website, business systems and issues management. I work closely with the executive leadership to ensure messaging is directly tied to tangible brand growth and revenue growth through our vision and mission.

How long have you been an IABC member?

I joined IABC in 2016 and have found the networking and learning opportunities immensely valuable, especially in a pandemic where communications and its channels of execution continue to shift and change.

In your opinion, what are the benefits of being an IABC member? What resources or programs offered by IABC have you engaged in?

I have attended the IABC London Virtuoso Awards as well as a few virtual events. My team has also made a submission as a nominee to the 2021 awards. 

What area(s) of communications are you passionate about?

Strategic brand marketing and communications are where my passion and skill set lie. I firmly believe through an almost 20-year-long career that when one can objectively control the narrative of a story and remain in control by sticking to the mission and vision of the company, it allows for more proactive messaging opportunities, and it naturally builds confidence in the brand. Most of my career has been in education because I believe it is a necessity for everyone in the world. Education empowers an individual and I love to be a part of advancing the knowledge of students in the K-20 space and beyond.

Tell us about an important project or achievement from your career.

Education saw issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, and culturally responsive pedagogy in the classroom brought forward stronger than ever before with the onset of the pandemic. As Canada’s oldest and longest-standing educational publisher we knew it was our duty to play a part in empowering educators in how to tackle these conversations in the classroom while ensuring a safe space as much as possible for students. We pulled together many partners in the education community and launched a webinar series titled “The Future of Education for Black Students” as part of Black History Month in February 2021. 

The virtual event brought together over 3,500 educators across Canada and our hashtag (#FEBS21) was trending #1 in Canada for hours that evening. It was such a success that we ran a second round of the series in May 2021, in part to mark the one-year anniversary of the tragic murder of George Floyd. That event also trended number one in Canada with similar attendance numbers. 

To be a part of something so critical in our narrative and commitment as Canadians was life-changing for me. I continue to learn on this topic and so many others from incredible educators that surround me everyday.

Are you involved in volunteer work or other roles in the community?

I am a mentor for the Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) organization and have been fortunate to meet some incredible women leaders and future leaders along the way. It has also provided me a glimpse into other industries and sectors including banking, commercial real estate and ed tech start-ups. An amazing experience to give back and learn at the same time.

I also run a toy drive each year with my children for a local women’s shelter in London, which has taught my children more than I could ever teach them on their own. I have met and continue to meet incredible women and their children through this experience and look forward to continuing to help and support in the years to come.

Do you have any advice for those starting out in this field?

Come to the profession knowing it’s ok not to know; however, always know your mission, your vision, and your values. Communications is a field that colleagues, external stakeholders and customers will look to you continuously for answers and guidance. While the expectation is that you will have all of the answers, and they will be accurate, digest the ask, apply it to the “today” (because tomorrow can change) and respond and adapt when you’re ready knowing it may change again the next day. If you anchor yourself to the vision of the organization in every message you create, it remains objective and backed with purpose. That is your job as a communicator.

If you had to describe the communications profession in one word, what word would you choose?

The Nucleus. It controls the message and connects every other part of the system to one another. Its impact and function are so critical to the success of the larger system that if it’s not informed, nourished and prioritized the rest of the system is weaker or can collapse entirely. 

How can members connect with you?

I love to stay connected. I am active on social channels professionally that includes LinkedIn (Colleen Aguilar) and Twitter (@aguilarcolleen7).