Meet a Member Featuring Gary Darnell

Title: Senior Manager, Supply Chain

Company: Walmart

Why do you love your job?   There’s a world of challenges each day and a huge diversity of communication needs.  We have a small team responsible for communicating strategy and tactics to a group of 100,000 field associates.  I get to work closely with many of the leaders of the Supply Chain.

How long have you been a member of IABC? Maybe 10 years?
Have you ever served on an IABC Board?

What is the best IABC meeting/conference you have attended? Why? A few years ago, I was able to attend a one-day conference on Crisis Communications. It was a great opportunity to hear from an industry leader and later be able to implement much of what I heard him explain.

How has IABC played a part in your professional development? The organization’s website is a great resource, and the network of professionals is invaluable. Great to be able to learn from each other’s experiences.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work? I am a ham radio operator and a PADI-certified divemaster, so I enjoy both of activities when I can. Also enjoy boating, hiking and my family.

What’s your favorite vacation spot?   In early December 2017, we took a family trip to Costa Rica, and it was tremendous. The people were fantastic, and we had some great adventures.

Who is your favorite musical artist? You’d probably laugh, but suffice it to say, I enjoy the music I grew up with: 70s, 80s, 90s.  I’m not sure it’s better than today’s music…but most of those tunes have some of my best memories associated with them.

Which website do you visit daily?  I visit a variety of news (and weather sites) each day. I like to see a diversity of opinions. And, of course, my own company’s internal sites.

What is your favorite restaurant? It’s hard to beat a good, cheap and cheerful Chinese restaurant. BBQ ranks pretty high on my list, too.

Complete the following: The future of the field of communications is…very bright! As the world gets more complicated (usually by our technology that was supposed to make things easier!), there will be plenty of opportunities for communicators who can take the complex and make it easy to understand.

What advice would you give to new communications professionals? 

  1. Learn everything you can about your employer.
  2. Figure out early how your organization/company makes money.
  3. Identify quickly what skills your employer finds valuable.
  4. Never say “it’s not my job”.
  5. Don’t lose momentum because you are waiting on someone else.
  6. Be flexible in work priorities and projects.
  7. Don’t get so set in your ways that you can’t change.
  8. Be nice.
  9. Buzz words are the quickest way to lose an audience’s attention.

Leverage the people around you.

Meet a Member Featuring Phillip Harris

Title: Senior Communications Specialist

Company: Williams

Why do you love your job? The variety of work I do ensures there’s never a dull moment. From strategic oversight of the company’s intranet, to support for Information Technology, Business Ethics & Regulatory Compliance and Finance & Accounting, there are always new and challenging employee communications opportunities.

How long have you been a member of IABC? I’m quickly approaching my 20th year as an IABC member. Time flies when you’re having fun!

Have you ever served on an IABC Board? Yes, I first served on the IABC/Tulsa Board from 1998-2000 and then again from 2010-2017.

What is the best IABC meeting/conference you have attended? Why? I’ve attended several great regional, national and international conferences, but the 2000 IABC District 5 conference in Tulsa still ranks pretty high on my list. Not only did I get a lot out of it as an attendee, I also gained valuable experience as part of the conference planning committee.

How has IABC played a part in your professional development? Early on in my career, IABC presented many opportunities to grow outside of my immediate job. Participating on the IABC/Tulsa board is one example. Other examples include the outstanding regional and international conferences, as well as workshops and webinars.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work? I love to travel. In the last four years I’ve been fortunate to visit Paris and the Normandy D-Day beaches in France; Munich, Germany; Salzburg and Vienna, Austria; and Krakow, Poland. While seeing historical landmarks in all these places was amazing, I think I have grown personally by reconciling misconceptions and generalizations that likely come from a lifetime of mass media influence. For example, contrary to what I thought Poland would look like in my mind’s eye, it was so much more beautiful with welcoming and engaging people, full of vibrant culture and delicious foods. And who would have ever guessed that Poland has an American-style football league? I met a couple from Warsaw who were in Krakow for an American-style football game between teams from the two cities – Warsaw Dukes vs. Krakow Kings. I was totally floored.

What’s your favorite vacation spot? My favorite stateside vacation spot is anywhere in the Florida panhandle. From Pensacola to Panama City, I’m a huge fan of the Emerald Coast and Hwy. 30A.

Who is your favorite musical artist? I’m such a music lover that it’s completely impossible for me to name one favorite musical artist. That said, Chris Stapleton, Foo Fighters, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Prince, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan and Stone Temple Pilots are in regular rotation on my iPod.

Which website do you visit daily? Drudge Report

What is your favorite restaurant? Burn Co Barbecue

How will we recognize you at the next IABC function? I’ll be the guy sitting at the table closest to the desserts.

Complete the following: The future of the field of communications is…..Fairly safe from being overrun by robots with artificial intelligence.

What advice would you give to new communications professionals? Don’t hesitate to get involved with IABC and network with people.