Senior Communications Manager
California State University Office of the Chancellor
IABC Member since 2003
It takes innovation, passion, and versatility to communicate on behalf of the 23 campuses, almost 450,000 students, and 48,000 faculty and staff that make up the California State University (CSU) system. IABC member Caron Oberg possesses all of the above and more. CSU is a leader in high-quality, accessible, student-focused education; it is the largest, most diverse university system in the United States. As Senior Communications Manager for the CSU Office of the Chancellor, Caron supports the university by communicating the vital role it plays in the growth and development of California’s communities and economy to many different audiences. Read on to see how animal care and trapeze flying help Caron meet the challenges before her.
Long Beach, California
“All the wonders you seek are within yourself.”
—Sir Thomas Browne
Three words that best describe me
Resourceful. Enthusiastic. Fun.
When I’m not working, you can find me
At the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific where I am a charter volunteer — for more than a decade! I provide assistance with food preparation and help feed some of the tropical Pacific’s most beautiful animals. The experience fuels my soul. Other than that, I have been known to challenge myself on the high-flying trapeze, an exercise that requires me to silence my mind and really listen.
MY LIFE IN COMMUNICATIONS
The biggest communications challenge I have faced in my current role was…
The California State University has a tremendous impact on California’s economy, which, now more than ever, makes our story an important one to tell. Our challenge is to ensure that all of California’s students are able to pursue a degree. The state’s future economy depends on the CSU reaching out to emerging populations to ensure they have a roadmap to college.
My favorite communications memory is…
Our outreach efforts such as the CSU / AT&T Road to College Tour and Super Sunday, as well as our marketing pieces like theHow to Get to College Poster strive to address these challenges as we move forward through some difficult economic times. The CSU/AT&T Road to College Tour featured an “All Access” rock-tour themed bus traveling throughout California to reach more than 10,000 middle and high school students, teachers and counselors in underserved communities. It was a life-changing effort that allowed us, for the first time, to take our message directly into the community.
The most important communications or professional lesson I’ve learned is…
The importance of managing expectations and always having a plan B, possibly even a plan C. Communicators must be ready in three ways: expectations clearly defined, plan B ready, and sharpened presentation skills. Once I have those three, I feel confident in my role.
Resources I really find useful and recommend to other communicators are …
I have and continue to use resources on IABC’s website. Recently, I have been venturing out to Twitter, and sharing experiences on IABC Exchange. In addition, I recommend IABC Fellow Joe Williams’ Dialogue in the Desert for a one-of-a-kind seminar that will refresh you and your senses. You will come back with several new tools and innovative ways to approach your work. I’ve also learned the value of refining presentation and leadership skills through the support of groups likeToastmasters.
A few more thoughts about me …
Interacting directly with our state’s students is immensely rewarding and helps me realize that I am exactly where I need to be, where I can make the most impact as a communicator and ambassador for higher education.
I love the ocean, diving in it, swimming in it, learning about it and sharing knowledge about it. One day I hope to combine my passion for the ocean and its inhabitants with my love of outreach and education. In my world … the perfect blend!
OH, HOW FAR I’VE COME
The CSU recently won its first Gold Quill Merit award for the CSU / AT&T Road to College Tour as well as the CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) Circle of Excellence Grand Gold. We are very pleased and honored to have been recognized in this way by our peers and we hope to be out on the road to college again soon.
California State University, Office of the Chancellor, Long Beach, CA
Senior Communications Manager (2005 – Present)
Communications Operations Manager (2002 – 2005)
Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific (1998 – Present)
Volunteer: Husbandry Assistant and Education Coordinator
Point Mugu Marine Mammal Care Center (1996)
NAWS Point Mugu, California
Volunteer: Grant writer
San Diego State University
Master of Public Administration
Bachelor of Arts, Public Administration, Sociology minor
This profile was edited by IABC-LA board member Cheryl Farrell.