Vice President of Communications
A lifetime member of IABC, Caroline Leach has served as a chapter president, district director and international executive board member. She holds an IABC Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) designation.
She has received several leadership and communications awards. They include the IABC-Los Angeles Communicator of the Year Award, an IABC Gold Quill Award for a sales event with strategic partners, and the PRSA Trevett Award given annually to an outstanding young PR professional.
At DIRECTV, Caroline and her team in Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago develop and implement corporate communications plans in the areas of employee communications, employee recognition, corporate events, trade shows, corporate citizenship and executive presentations. She joined DIRECTV in 1999 as a communications manager.
She received a master’s degree in communications management from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Caroline resides in Southern California with her husband and two children and is active in the South Bay community.
Q: How did you end up in corporate communications?
A: I started out in aerospace procurement at TRW Space & Electronics, which is now a unit of Northrop Grumman Corp. It was a great company but not the right career for me, so I decided to transition into corporate communications at the same organization. I made the transition by getting involved in IABC. My career would not have taken the twists and turns that it did without IABC.
Q: When did you join IABC?
A: I joined IABC in 1992 because membership was open to everyone. I was invited to be on the board in Long Beach and then they asked me to be chapter president. It’s a great organization. Through the chapter, I’ve met communicators throughout the world. I feel like I can pick up the phone and tap into a worldwide network. It’s a supportive group. It’s great not only to belong but also to be active and belong.
Q: What are some important skills one needs in a corporate communications career?
A: You have to be a good writer and a strategic thinker. For example, you have to think about how various communication strategies can be used to help an organization achieve its goals. If you don’t have those skills, this field is probably not a good fit. A lot of people say, “I like working with people,” but that’s just an element. You have to think clearly and strategically and be able to express yourself on the organization’s behalf.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge in corporate communications?
A: It’s probably the age-old business challenge of trying to set priorities out of multiple business demands and trying to achieve them with limited resources. Communications departments are usually fairly leanly staffed. That’s always a challenge working with a small group and small budget. I’m really proud of my team at DIRECTV and what we’ve been able to accomplish to showcase DIRECTV as the best television experience, a great place to work, and a good corporate citizen.
Q: Recently, there has been some press about the difficulty some women have going back to work after taking time off to take care of their children, i.e., women who take off-ramps sometimes have a hard time finding on-ramps.
A: It’s challenging. The business world is increasingly competitive.
And it’s also challenging – and rewarding – to rear children and help them grow into well-educated, productive and happy adults. As far as combining the two, it often comes down to an individual situation and persevering in the face of adversity and creating your own off-ramp and on-ramp. A lot has to do with keeping in contact with people. You only have to find that one opportunity and then it’s up to you what to make of it. You have to look at what you can control as an individual and what you can’t.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: Since my avocations of reading and writing also make up part of my vocation, I’m very fortunate that I get to do a lot of my favorite things on the job. Outside of work I’m devoted to my children’s academics and activities, as well as supporting a few charitable organizations in our community.