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Q and A with IABC Member Karen McCarthy

What is your communications background?
I graduated from university in 1991 and started working in the communications field.  About 80 per cent of my career has been in communications. However, for part of my career I managed customer service at 

Newfoundland Power and was Assistant Deputy Minister of Labour and Assistant Deputy Minister of Special Projects at Intergovernmental Affairs at the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for several years. Fifteen years of my career was at the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and I loved every bit of it.  From there I moved to M5 and started a public affairs consulting business, which grew throughout Atlantic Canada. I headed that business for seven years. Subsequent to that I moved to Newfoundland Power and then on to the parent company, Fortis Inc., where I am today. 

Where are you from?
Marystown, NL.

What brought you to the communications field? What is your training/experience?
My guidance counsellor steered me toward the Bachelor of Public Relations program at Mount Saint Vincent University during my last year of high school. I accepted the challenge and never turned back! I have the BPR (Co-op) with Concentration in French; Masters of Education (Leadership) from Memorial University; and I have completed some post-graduate law studies in international human rights and its effect on women through Queen Mary, University of London, England. I also have a governance certification through the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD.D) and Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto; and, I completed an Alternative Dispute Resolution program at University of Windsor Law School, among other courses over the years.

What do you like about being a communications or marketing professional?

The sheer brilliance of a career in communications is the number of doors that are opened for you. As Dr. Seuss said: “Oh the places you’ll go!” It’s been a fascinating journey for me so far, where I have been able to work in the sectors I most enjoy.

Tell us how you've benefited from your IABC membership?

The ability to stay grounded in the field is important. IABC gives me a connection to our profession, which is hard to get without going back to school. It provides learning opportunities, ways to advance your knowledge and career, and most importantly a relationship with like-minded communications peers.

Where do you see your career going/what plans do you have for your career?                                                                                                                                       I I’m now on a huge learning trajectory at Fortis Inc., given that it’s the first time I’ve worked for a publicly traded company. My work extends throughout North America, and I couldn’t be happier being Vice President of Communications and Corporate Affairs for this amazing company. We are a true Newfoundland and Labrador success story with $49 billion in assets, operating in 17 jurisdictions throughout North America and serving 3.2 million customers. The utility sector is fascinating to me, so I’m confident I’ll remain here until the end of my career.

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