Colleen Walker, ABC
Corporate Communications Manager
Toyota Financial Services
ABC Accreditation since 1997
Colleen Walker embodies the perfect alignment of temperament to task. This international traveler is Corporate Communications Manager for Toyota Financial Services, the financing arm of the world’s largest automaker. Specializing in corporate communication, organizational communication, and change management, Colleen works with all levels of employees—from front line to CEO—to help solve business problems using communication and change. Read on to learn why she describes Asia as “the other half of my life,” where she readily applies her passion for communication, connection and community.
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada
Los Angeles, California
“I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”
Three words that best describe me
Curious, creative and collaborative—committed would be the fourth.
When I’m not working, you can find me
In Asia or planning my next trip back.
MY LIFE IN COMMUNICATIONS
The biggest communications challenge I have faced in my current (or previous) role was…
Finding myself in the midst of conflict in major change initiatives and helping people to be open to other perspectives. Eventually, I learned to see and work with conflict as an ongoing and fundamental aspect of any relationship or situation, and an important opportunity for learning and innovation.
My favorite communications memory is…
Sitting in a room with 40 colleagues following a major conflict and learning that every person had a very different interpretation of the event that just transpired. So much of communication is an internal process and this is rarely acknowledged or understood. It’s very powerful when you start to work with this proactively.
I also loved working at the Paris Air Show on behalf of the Government of Canada, Foreign Affairs, and attending events at the Canadian embassy with government officials, foreign dignitaries and international business representatives. It’s amazing the variety of opportunities a career in communication can offer.
The most important communications or professional lesson I’ve learned is…
Never underestimate the power of listening … allowing people to share their opinions and really be heard.
Resources I really find useful and recommend to other communicators are …
An innovative and highly progressive conflict resolution process called Deep Democracy. While it’s possible to read about it, you really need to experience it through a training session to understand it. I am one of a small group of practitioners in North America and currently hold Blue Belt status. Click here for more information.
You should also know about me…
I’ve lived in four countries including Canada, Finland, France, and the United States. I speak English and French and I am learning Indonesian. I plan to live in at least two more countries, possibly doing freelance communication work while supporting community and social development initiatives in Asia.
OH, HOW FAR I’VE COME
The first half of my career focused on traditional corporate communications, market research and public affairs. I fell into change management, which also led me to specialize in employee engagement, leadership communication, conflict resolution and group communication processes and decision-making. I use both traditional and “non-traditional” methods in my work.
Somewhere in the middle of it all, I decided the greatest challenge would be to do “the work” in other cultures and countries. I’ve had the opportunity to experience two extremes: engaging with executives in boardrooms, and Indonesian children on bamboo mats in open-air schools.
I have served as an IABC accreditation and awards judge, and have written discussion papers and spoken at numerous North American communication conferences.
[IABC Accreditation is the professional development program that offers communicators a way of demonstrating their ability to think and plan strategically. For more information, visit iabc.com/abc]
2000 – Present
Corporate Communications Manager
Toyota (Financial Services) Los Angeles
Assistant Vice President Corporate Communication
PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Chicago and Manhattan
Nortel Networks, Montreal, Canada
Corporate Marketing and Public Affairs Officer
City of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
MA Leadership, Royal Roads University, Victoria, British Columbia
Thesis: Communication, Community and Employee Engagement
This profile was edited by IABC-LA Board Member Cheryl Farrell.