By Susan Simmons, CCC, Communications Manager, Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation
Recently I had the pleasure of talking with Carrie Stroud, Union Power’s manager of communications, about her Certified Cooperative Communicator (CCC) certification experience. Join me as we “get to know” Carrie.
Q: I see where you became a CCC in 2009. What motivated you to seek your certification?
A: It really was not a question about WOULD I do it but rather WHEN. It was something I wanted to do especially knowing my supervisor, Luanne Sherron, and former Union Power GM, Tony Herrin, were both CCCs. There was never a question of their support. And I want to congratulate our communications specialist, Rhonda Smith, who just became a Certified Cooperative Communicator. She’s such a go-getter and she made it happen. Union Power now has three CCCs on staff.
Q: What was the most valuable thing you learned in the process?
A: I knew you were going to ask this and I’ve truly thought about it and have come to this conclusion — it’s not just one thing — the ENTIRE process was valuable. Going through the Body of Knowledge and studying the history of cooperatives and specifically Union Power’s, as well as getting a more complete understanding of the cooperative business model has made me realize how really, really cool it is to work in our profession for a cooperative. It’s a great story that we get to tell.
Q: Has your certification changed the way you do your job?
A: Certification has made me change the way I look at my job. It’s helped me understand the “bigger picture.” Everything we communicate can potentially affect something else. We have to look at all the different publics, messages and avenues to get our message out. I guess I can say it’s made me do a better job defining my audiences and tailoring my messages.
Q: What advice would you give anyone contemplating the CCC certification process?
A: That’s easy – JUST DO IT! Don’t let the process intimidate you. It’s very doable — especially if you’ve been doing your job at your cooperative for two or three years. Oh, and DO NOT drag it out! You will feel such accomplishment and be so proud you did it!
Q: Final thoughts?
A: The entire certification process is well worth the time and effort. The preparation you do allows you to come out with a portfolio of your best work that you can be really proud of and a wonderful sense of accomplishment. The research you do helps you know your history and why we have such an amazing story to tell. Getting your CCC connects you with some great people. Studying together (even over long distance) builds lasting relationships and a network of colleagues you can call on for years to come.
Carrie majored in marketing at the University of North Carolina Charlotte where she graduated in 1998. She and her husband Chris live in Wingate, North Carolina, and have a one-year-old son, Cameron. Carrie has been with Union Power Cooperative for 12 years.