Images

Jolly Good Fellows

Today, I want to talk about Fellows.

IABC’s Fellows are those honoured with the highest designation the Association can bestow.

They are, of rote, senior and time-served* members who have distinguished in their professional, work and volunteer lives and are also well ‘published’.

In the old days, ‘well published’ meant writing lots and having it made into books. Today it’s more about being sensibly prolific on social media and being happy to present at seminars and conferences etc – hopefully pro bono.

IABC doesn’t have enough Fellows.   Compared with most other Associations (communications and otherwise) we have a tiny percentage.

This was a subject I made recommendations on when I first joined IABC’s International Board, and will pick up again later this year, as Past Chair.

As part of this project we will also define the role of the Fellow more, and in a way which allows both Fellows and the Association to better benefit from each other’s time and expertise.

I had the honour of being with one of our more recently-appointed Fellows recently.

Elpi Cuna
Elpi Cuna, IABC Fellow

Elpi Cuna is the ‘father’ of the IABC Philippines Chapter. It was my privilege to sit next to him at the recent Philippine Quill awards, a glittering event organised by the local Chapter which attracted nearly 1000 paying guests and where I was invited as International Chair to present awards and give the keynote address.

Elpi started IABC Philippines in the Eighties. It was our first chapter outside North America and today is one of our most prolific, also hugely regarded and respected by the Philippine business community.

Although Elpi stepped back from day to day Chapter management some time ago, he (with other past Chapter Presidents and VPs) maintains a keen interest in Chapter activities and sits on a very active committee called the Board of Advisers.

I found this model very interesting and it’s exactly the sort of role we want to see for many of our Fellows.

There is currently a call out for IABC members to nominate an eminent member for Fellow. I have recently extended the deadline for this to Friday March 27th, so there’s still time for you to nominate.

Any member in good standing who meets the criteria above is eligible to be nominated.

The only restriction is that people who have been on the International Executive Board must wait three years before being nominated.

(This rule was established some years ago and, true to the rigorous ethics of the Association, is to prevent automatic succession simply for a ‘job well done’ on the Board).

I have appointed a diverse committee of six Fellows, this year headed by Paul Sanchez ABC, IABC Fellow, who will next month choose up to five individuals to go forward for this key honour in 2015.

Please consider whom you might want to nominate, and consult the IABC website for more information. That deadline again : Friday March 27th.

*Footnote : Please note that “time-served” is not the same as “life-expired” – a phrase I got caught out by with Canadian members once!)

Those We Can Learn From

I want to dedicate this fortnight’s blog to Kate Gross.

Until very recently, Kate was a senior Civil Servant in the UK Government.  She was a stellar performer.

In Kate Grossher twenties, she advised both UK prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Kate was responsible for preparing the Prime Ministers for all their appearances in Parliament. Most of her time was spent on the weekly Prime Ministers’ Questions, which every prime minister in history has dreaded.

Aged 30, Kate went on to become CEO of the Africa Governance Initiative, where she advised governments of Liberia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone on how to shape a better future for their people.

Kate was one of today’s most influential development leaders under 40. She and her peers have inspired change that transcends borders.

Kate died on Christmas Day of colon cancer, aged 36.

The reason I want to dedicate this blog to Kate, for whom I had the highest admiration, and who leaves behind  five year old twin sons Oscar and Issac and husband Billy, is that in addition to being all the above, she was also an exemplary communicator.

Kate had a connection with people and a way with words – spoken and written – that made her a natural counsellor and a born leader.

If you want to understand some of Kate’s talent for communication, read her blog which detailed her illness in an informative, evocative way but without self pity – and with plenty of ironic humour for which we Brits are probably famous.

Her piece in The Times, published in mid-December ( you will need to be a subscriber) is also worth reading.   And her book, Late Fragments, is published in early January.

Kate began to write as a gift to herself; a reminder that she could create even as her body began to self-destruct.

I can’t yet think about reading the book myself.  Things are too raw.  But I know it’s not a conventional cancer memoir; nor is it filled with medical jargon or misery. Instead, it aspires for Kate to give hope and purpose to the lives of her readers, even as her own life drew to its close.

I mourn Kate’s passing, reflecting on a tragic loss of what could have been.

But I also celebrate the fact that she was someone I was proud to learn from and who inspired me to be better at what I do.

Kate’s natural talent for explaining the complex in a simple way, and for leading without any pretences, was an opportunity for communicators to practise what I call ‘good grace’.

For, however good we all may be as communications practitioners – and even more, how much we think we are – the fact that communication is a central business discipline means there is always someone, somewhere in business we, too, can learn from.

Kate, rest in peace. I was privileged to know you.