uOPRA Spotlights: Sharon Cheung (IABC Ottawa)
Written by: Jocelyn Courneya; Edited by: Shanice Atkins-Broome
September 23rd, 2015
Sharon Cheung is a famous name amongst the public relations community at the University of Ottawa and Algonquin College, especially within uOPRA. In 2011, Sharon helped to co-found the University of Ottawa Public Relations Association (uOPRA), becoming president of the association in 2013. Beyond uOPRA, Sharon also worked as an active participant within the Ottawa communications community, one example being her work as a student member of IABC Ottawa (International Association of Business Communicators). As a savvy and experienced PR professional, Sharon is a post-graduate to look up to. Sharon moved this year from a student member and volunteer at IABC Ottawa, to a member of the IABC board of directors, taking on position of VP Professional Development.
We had the chance to interview Sharon for our first ever uOPRA spotlight interview.
uOPRA: Firstly, can you tell us how you originally became involved with IABC’s Ottawa chapter?
Sharon: In 2011, I co-founded uOPRA to help build a PR community at uOttawa. When I became president in 2013, one of my mandates was to strengthen our relationships with Ottawa’s Professional Development Association. After reaching out to their board members, they asked me to join their student leader’s team and the rest is history!
uOPRA: As a Public Relations student, and former leader and co-founder of the University of Ottawa’s Public Relations Association, what were some of the opportunities IABC gave you as an involved student member?
Sharon: For uOPRA, being involved with IABC Ottawa helped build brand awareness. IABC members were always happy to lend their expertise, network and sometimes gave sponsorship to our growing association. One of the biggest opportunities uOPRA received was being awarded for two big projects my team organized (Let’s Grow Together 2014 and Take uOPRA to Work Day). This recognition gave us the credibility uOPRA proudly holds today.
On a personal level, getting involved with IABC helped me land my first PR job. Through networking I built my personal brand and through volunteering I developed skills in leadership, time-management, conflict resolution and strategy. Growth is a huge part of being a member of IABC and after two years of serving as a student leader, I was asked to join the Board as their VP of Professional Development.
uOPRA: What events and volunteer opportunities with IABC have stood out for you?
Sharon: Social events like our annual Season Opener, coming up this Sept. 24, always gets me excited. The room will be packed with professionals from all kinds of professional backgrounds.
A moment that stood out for me was last year, when I helped add more of a student focus to IABC Ottawa. It was a great feeling to conceptualize an idea and help execute it.
uOPRA: Is there anyone from your previous student time spent at IABC who stands out for you as a mentor or leader?
Sharon: Kristine D’Arbelles has always been someone who has helped me with my career. I’ve become a better communicator from listening to her Young PR Pros podcast episodes and working with her on several projects.
uOPRA: Post-graduation, and into your current professional life, how has IABC helped to influence your current career as a PR and communications professional?
Sharon: Volunteering two years as a student leader helped me become familiar with the organization, now on the other side I can contribute to at a deeper level keeping that student focus in mind. I’m eager to add to the successful campaigns my predecessors organized and I’m excited to do it with my own little twist.
uOPRA: What can we look forward to this year from IABC? Could you tell us a bit about your partnership with Shopify and the upcoming IABC season opener?
Sharon: Our members can expect a professional development event each month. There will be social mixers, workshops, breakfasts and webinars with diverse topics to keep everyone interested.
uOPRA: As a former student member, and now a board member for IABC Ottawa, what advice would you give a student looking to become more involved in the Ottawa PR and Communications community?
Sharon: IABC has been a huge asset to my professional career and I encourage anyone looking to build their personal brands to get involved. There are many opportunities available with our Professional Development Association but there’s also other ways to build your portfolio. Think about what you’re interested in or passionate about and do some digging!
To get involved with the IABC and find out more, check out their student membership program here.
There is also still time to purchase tickets to the IABC Season Opener, taking place on Thursday, September 24th. Those interested can purchase their tickets on eventbrite.