With her roots in government and public engagement, Caeli Turner, current Director of Public Affairs at Vancouver Coastal Health, often has her hands (and calendar) full. But, she still finds time in her schedule to mentor those in her field, foster meaningful relationships with her peers, and maybe hike a mountain or two in her spare time.
What first drove you to become involved in communications?
I stumbled into it, to be honest. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I didn't know much about the field of PR/communications. After my undergrad, I was researching graduate degrees and found myself interested in the professional communications program at Royal Roads University. It was mainly the ability to work full-time while doing my masters that piqued my interest. Plus, the fact that I had recently relocated to Victoria made the on-campus residency component easy. I wound up meeting a contact through the program who recruited me into public sector communications. Luckily, as it turned out, I liked both the program and the field of PR/communications, so I never looked back!
What are you most proud of in your career?
Being a PR expert is important – but for me personally, being a good leader is the most important. What I’m most proud of in my career is actually who I'm most proud of – it's seeing the people who I’ve coached and mentored succeed.
Is there anything you regret?
Not getting involved with CPRS sooner! Honestly though, I was a peripheral student member and not very engaged in the PR community for a number of years. I wish I'd got involved sooner, now that I've seen how much this amazing network of people has to offer – both personally and professionally.
If you could give any advice to someone beginning their career in PR/Communications, what would it be?
Build strong relationships. Never lie. Don't use key messages to explain 'what', use them to explain 'why.' Admit when you're wrong. And remember that you can be political – and think politically – without being partisan.
Don’t shy away from a position because it’s temporary, or a lateral move, or because it pays a little less than what you want or it's not your dream industry. You will learn and grow from it inevitably, and things are always changing. If you do good work, new doors will open up that you didn't even know were there.
How has your involvement with CPRS benefited your career?
Since moving to Vancouver – almost three years ago now – I’ve found an amazing network of people within CPRS. When I joined the board last summer, I didn't realize I would also be signing up for an accessible crew of like-minded professionals who love to discuss challenges and ideas, made all the more fun over a glass of wine or two!
What’s the best part about working in communications in Vancouver?
Having one of the most amazing backdrops in the world allows for better work-life balance. Knowing that I can head down to the seawall to watch the sun set after work or head up to the mountains over the weekend helps me maintain some sanity, even on the most crazy days.
What’s something people may not know about you?
While most probably see me in heels and a blazer at events, I’m an avid adventurer and I much prefer my hiking boots and a backpack. I’ve traveled to more than 30 countries – surfed in Nicaragua, hiked in the Peruvian Andes, and gone skydiving in Australia. Next up on the list: Ireland and Croatia. Travel tips? Send them my way!