Vice President of Corporate Communications, Transportation Systems
For Joe Toubes, director of Corporate Communications at Honeywell International’s Transportation Systems division, moving from a job in Public Relations to his current role in employee communications wasn’t much of an adjustment. “Communications is communications regardless of audience,” he said.
Before Honeywell, Joe spent nearly a decade working in public relations at a variety of firms including Manning, Selvage & Lee (MS&L) in Los Angeles; Wahl Public Relations in San Luis Obispo; Pacific West Communications in Los Angeles; and Fleishman-Hillard in Washington, D.C.
Joe joined Honeywell’s Transportation Systems division in Torrance to reinvigorate their employee communications program. Since joining Honeywell in 2003, Joe has put the tools and techniques he mastered in the PR world to good use. He regularly reaches out to the 13,000 employees using print, email, town halls, online videos, and other new technologies that enhance his message. This arsenal of communication tools is critical when, like Joe, you’re trying to reach a global audience – including many who speak English as a second language if at all.
A self-described political junkie, Joe graduated from American University, School of Public Affairs, in Washington D.C. with a degree in Political Science. He’s interned for Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-New York) and run a County Supervisor campaign in Central California.
He’s also a sports fanatic and remains loyal to his New York roots supporting the Knicks, Mets, Jets, and Rangers.
Q: How has your PR background shaped they way you approach internal communications?
A: Honestly, I think my PR background has been a great asset. It introduced me to a wide array of communication tools that I can apply to any audience I’m trying to reach — including an employee audience.
It sounds basic, but I think sometimes people forget that employees are human beings who are actively engaged in media and new technologies outside of work. They’re used to receiving information in a variety of ways – tv, online, radio, in print and so on. I don’t see why we should limit our tools when we communicate within an organization. I try and use all the tools I have at my disposal and I’m constantly looking for new ones.
Q: When you were in your first job, what was a good piece of career advice you received?
A: “Attitude trumps everything.”
Even when my skills in communications weren’t strong and I was making a lot of mistakes, I was able to keep progressing in my career because I had a positive attitude, a desire to learn and the ability to work as part of a team.
And I’ve seen it ring true throughout my career. People with great attitudes and a desire to learn and develop themselves as well as their teams tend to succeed.
Q: Your division of Honeywell alone has thousands of employees spread around the world. What are some of the challenges you face when trying to communicate with such a broad audience? And what are some effective tools you use to reach them?
A: I think the challenges are obvious: time, language, culture and priorities. When I first took this job it was easy to see that a “one-size-fits-all” communication plan was not going to work.
What we’ve done is utilize our local resources as a conduit into the regions. We have designated one employee at each facility around the world to act as our “site communicator”. They help with everything from checking the translation of documents to advising on which communication tools work best at their locations and sometimes working with me to adjust the message so it resonates with their local employees.
Q: When did you join IABC?
A: I joined in 2004 after I took the job with Honeywell. I felt it was the best way to stay up to speed on internal communication trends.
Q: What do you value most about your IABC membership?
A: I use the IABC website a lot. I also read the newsletters and publications to stay current with trends in the industry. And I appreciate that it keeps me connected to the communications community as a whole.
Actually, IABC is an effective recruiting tool as well. We were recently trying to fill a position in Connecticut, so we advertised the job through IABC and got some really impressive candidates.
Q: On a more personal note, how do you choose to unwind after a tough day?
A: By spending time with my two sons. It’s my favorite way to spend an evening.
Q: Okay, one more question. If you could leave tomorrow for a two-week vacation, where would you go and why?
A: Wow, two weeks? Well, it may not be the most exciting answer, but I’d have to say Hawaii. Nothing relieves stress like Hawaii.