Communications Project Manager
Southern California Edison
IABC Member Since 1997
Chris Cabrera is a communications professional who has been learning and growing in the field for more than 20 years. Since 2000, he has worked at Southern California Edison (SCE) in the Corporate Communications department developing employee communications for Edison’s 18,000 employees. According to Chris, “I work for a great company. We have a mighty corporate communications department that touches everything from media relations, community involvement, sustainability, renewable energy and the environment, technology, investor relations, government and regulatory, human resources, customer service and more.”
As past president of IABC/LA, Chris led the team that created the association’s current logo, developed a volunteer program, re-designed the Web site, and created an electronic newsletter. Read on to see how this industrious communications professional executes his duties with an engaging lightheartedness.
Rowland Heights, California
“The need is for nothing less than the infinite and the miraculous, and a man does well to be satisfied with nothing less, and not to feel easy until he has gained it.”
—Vincent Van Gogh
Three words that best describe me
Rock ‘n’ Roll (Does ‘n’ count as a word?)
When I’m not working, you can find me…
Practicing my clarinet (Oops! There goes my rock ‘n’ roll cred.)
MY LIFE IN COMMUNICATIONS
The biggest communications challenge I have faced in my current role…
I’ve worked in employee communications for several large technology implementations, but my current gig tops them all. We’re helping employees navigate the changes associated with our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) project, which lays the foundation for the company’s future. We’re replacing many of our old systems and software applications with one big system that does it all (pretty much). This is changing the way employees work because the new software brings with it best practice processes as well. So, combine a huge process change with a new system for doing the work, toss them into the pressure cooker of today’s work environment, sit back, and watch it boil!
My favorite communications memory is…
Speaking of rock ‘n’ roll and the challenging ERP project mentioned above, we created a kick-off event with a rock music theme, for hundreds of people in our Power Production department. Because we were talking about a big change, our change management theme for the event was “What Song Will You Sing?” This was to encourage employees to “stay in tune” with the effort, and avoid any “sour notes.” To demonstrate SCE leadership’s willingness to change, the vice president of the department and his staff dressed up as rock stars in full costume, wigs and make-up. The VP came as Gene Simmons from the rock group KISS, and the highlight was seeing him on stage, inspiring his people to “rock” this new corporate initiative.
The most important communications or professional lesson I’ve learned is…
I’ve been in this game for more than 20 years. One key thing I’ve learned is that, in many ways, it is a game. There are rules, but there are also many uncharted areas where we can create our own path, make our own opportunities, and have fun in the process. I take the work seriously, but try not to take it too seriously.
A resource that I really find useful and recommend to other communicators is…
As communicators, we pretty much need to know everything about everything. I’ve recently started downloading and listening to podcasts, and it’s been quite an education. I’m amazed at what I find on podcast.com — on every imaginable topic. A great communications podcast is “For Immediate Release” http://www.forimmediaterelease.biz/. It has two communications and PR gurus discussing technology, communications, PR, social media, and more, and how they affect our world.
One thing you should know about me…
I’m highly creative. I’ve spent my career trying to bring pictures, color, humor, high concepts and a little edginess to corporate America. (You can see that in my alter ego photo below.) I’m also very patient. I live with my two college-age kids, one wife, and one dog—although, I’m really a cat-person.
OH, HOW FAR I’VE COME
- Communications Project Manager at Southern California Edison—since March 2000.
- Creative Director at Downey Regional Medical Center—I was there for five years.
- The “salad days” of my career were spent on the agency side, working in the healthcare and non-profit worlds.
This profile was edited by IABC-LA board member Cheryl Farrell.