IABC Phoenix Board Member
There is an ongoing debate among IABC members concerning the value of pursuing, completing and maintaining the ABC (Accredited Business Communicator) certification. Some members may just not have the time to devote to the process. Completing the accreditation timeline can take up to a year or more; and maintaining the designation upon completion requires renewing your membership each year. Others wonder if having it will really lead to promotions and higher salaries in their careers.
After a decade in college athletics and NBA & WNBA team public relations, I made a career change when I moved to Phoenix on Aug. 1, 2005. Part of my major life transition and relocation was to “hit the reset button” so to speak in seeking a new career and embracing new outlets for continuing education; something I didn’t make time for while being absorbed in a job that consumed nights and weekends for several years. I decided I wanted to be a part of professional associations outside of whatever my day job was going to be, so when I finally joined IABC Phoenix in July 2008 after attending events periodically as a non-member, I was an “old rookie”.
The truth is I never really knew much about the ABC until two years ago, but once I joined the chapter, I was determined to attain the accreditation even if my employer didn’t pay for them (they did, which was a great benefit).
In the spring of 2010, I decided I was ready to pursue the ABC certification. I had completed the evening MBA at ASU and it was going to be a long, hot summer, so I wanted some new personal projects to tackle. I researched the criteria and felt confident that I could effectively navigate the process while improving my plan presentation and strategic thinking skills.
People talk about how having the ABC designation after your name can lead to more senior job opportunities and higher salary potential. These are both great things to pursue in any career, but I was not preoccupied with these notions as motivating factors. I wanted to see if I could take on and complete the accreditation while continuing to perform my job at a high level, but also to become a more well-rounded leader in the communications field, regardless of any status or monetary expectations that might eventually follow completion. I also felt that as a board member, one can set an example or at least encourage other members or colleagues that the process can be worthwhile if one’s personal schedule can accommodate the tasks involved.
Since my job some budget for the ABC application fee, I made the move to get in the candidacy pipeline in case the financial picture changed. After completing the applications and being accepted to proceed, I began developing the ABC portfolio that was due in September. This involved preparing case studies with accompanying collateral materials for two major plans or campaigns from one of my previous positions and/or current job. Once I submitted the PDF portfolio to the IABC judging panel, I knew there would be a two-three month wait before receiving word whether I could proceed to the written and oral examinations to attain the ABC.
In January, after four months in the review pipeline, I received feedback that one of my portfolio plans passed but I had to revise and improve the second one. This was a good start, and I had a year to re-submit. I got busy and was doing some traveling, but I finally carved out time to revise the portfolio and re-submitted on May 25. Earlier this month I was informed that my second work plan had passed, so I was given the green light to proceed with scheduling the written and oral tests, which I will take on Saturday, Sept. 17 with a couple other fellow IABC Phoenix member candidates. It feels good to be halfway home, but now I must focus on preparing for the tests over the next two months to try and see this thing to the finish line.
Pursuing the ABC is clearly a personal and professional choice for IABC Phoenix members as they assess if they want or need it, and if they can take on the lengthy process and “academic commitment” to seeing it through while balancing everything else in their careers and lives. I aim to pass in September and look forward to continuing to develop as a communications leader.