What qualities make a great leader? Is it someone who’s:
- Calm under pressure
- A great listener
If you’re nodding right now, you’re going to love our incoming Vice President for 2020-2021! José Vargas is a long-time IABC/BC member and has more than 12 years of communications experience in the public and private sectors. He currently serves as Manager, Communications and Stakeholder Engagement for the Provincial Health Services Authority.
About José Vargas
José has been a member of IABC/BC for almost 10 years. During that time, he has volunteered at various events and socials. Most recently, he served on the board as Director, Students and New Communicators portfolio. (Shout out to this year’s new portfolio Director, Nancy Chan, and the rest of our fantastic 2020/21 board!)
To help everyone get to know him a little better, José and I chatted about his beginnings with IABC/BC, his vision for the chapter, and his tight-knit family.
How did you first get involved with IABC/BC?
I became involved because my first boss in the PR industry said ‘You’ve got to be a member for professional development, for meeting like-minded people, and just in general to have a community of professionals around you.’ I was still at the start of my career, and it was probably some of the best professional advice I’ve ever received. Here I am now, almost 10 years later, and on the president’s track to see what else is in store!
What do you think makes IABC/BC special?
I could talk about how we are one of the largest chapters, how we have so many awards (including Large Chapter of the Year for the 19/20 year), and how we are so photogenic that we had an entire video series dedicated to our members and their backgrounds. I could talk about all those things, but what makes IABC/BC special is the community.
Whatever a member’s reason for joining might be—career improvement, becoming more involved, launching a communications career, sharing knowledge with new communicators—a benefit of an association dedicated to communications professionals is that these people know where you are coming from, and speak the same language you do. That’s what makes it pretty special, especially in times like these. Having that community and support system is so important for our mental health and resilience. We remain committed to each other, and support each other.
What made you say yes to the presidency track?
Dana Higgins and Adam Brayford. Those two gave me a shout and showed how much belief they had in me as a leader for this chapter.
What inspired me was the opportunity to listen to feedback from previous years, especially right now as we are rethinking what provides the most value for our careers and our personal lives. Taking all of that information and putting it into action excites me. Combine that with the opportunity to work with the best people communications has to offer—that inspired me to say yes!
2020 has seen some important issues, conversations, and information sharing concerning COVID-19 and the global Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. What have you learned about leadership and communications that you intend to take with you into the VP role?
As professional communicators, we can’t ignore these important issues that are impacting so many people. We don’t want to be idle—we want to support these important social movements and health care improvements. We realize that communicators are at the centre of these crises a lot of the time.
When I look ahead, I look forward to learning from these challenging times and turning it into value for our members, our volunteers, and the entire IABC/BC community. We have made some mistakes and built new tools and processes, and we will continue to learn from our conversations and turn them into action.
Are there any particular IABC/BC initiatives that have arisen during this time of physical distancing?
I don’t want to give anything away too early, but I can speak to what we have done so far.
- We’ve held virtual events including the rise and yoga event in April, the crisis communications event in May, our Annual General Meeting, and several social events.
- We’re investigating the many possibilities that come with virtual events, which includes access to presenters from around the world that would have otherwise been out of reach.
- We recognize that our organization has a role to play in supporting conversations around equity, inclusion, and systemic racism, as well as the role that professional communicators have in addressing these issues.
I would be remiss not to mention that we’re in the midst of our chapter’s 40th anniversary year – and what a year for this recognition to take place! Our 40th Anniversary Committee will be revisiting how to continue to honour the legacy our members have built over the past four decades. So, stay tuned!
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
My greatest pride in life is my two-year-old son Noah. He forms part of this incredible family circle that keeps me running, along with my wife and three-year-old Bernedoodle.
I’m a full-time dad. Other roles are nice to have, but right now my world revolves around my son. His amazing way of viewing life with awe and wonder, despite not seeing much with being sheltered in place as of late, is impressive and inspiring.
You can connect with José to share your congratulations, and learn more:
LinkedIn: José Vargas
Want to work with José and other great comms professionals?
We’re always looking for great volunteers to help engage and support our IABC/BC community. Check out our website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on available roles.
Why should you apply? Here’s what José has to say: “No matter what stage in your career you’re at, there is this amazing community of people out there that are just like you. Why not join it? You’ll be blown away by how much this community gives to you.”