"In communications, we’re constantly learning new things."
Laurie was serving drinks and dinners at a Westin Hotel nightclub when she decided it was time for a change.
“I was 24 and had just got married,” she says, describing why she was suddenly thinking seriously about her future. “My husband and I both got student loans and went to Grant MacEwan.”
Laurie studied graphic design. Soon after graduating with a Design Arts Diploma, she joined the advertising department of Sears in Kingsway Garden Mall.
“It was all manual,” she says, “pasteup and cutting. We were all sitting at a drafting table, laying out newspaper ads, mostly fashion.”
Then a friend and fellow designer got her a job painting giant maps of Alberta, the kind you see in visitor centres. The project lasted two years.
In 1985, the City of Edmonton’s Corporate Communications branch needed a designer to do production work for three months. Laurie took the position, which eventually became full time.
For the next 25 years, she learned new things. Her design skills became a starting point that led her to media, writing, editing, and public engagement. After a year doing production work, Laurie became a media co-ordinator with Production Services, which was a small agency within the City. Production Services purchased radio, TV, and print advertising during a time when the City owned all its utilities. There was EdTel and Edmonton Power—not TELUS or EPCOR.
“Mainly it was tons of print advertising,” says Laurie. “There was never a dull moment. It was high stress with constant, constant deadlines. Before fax machines came along, every time you sent a proof you had to call a courier. The place was crawling with couriers all the time.”
Laurie spent seven years with Production Services and then transferred to Executive Communications Services, which looked after internal communications, events, and communications planning in Corporate Communications. The City newsletter needed an assistant editor, and Laurie was about to learn new skills from an exacting editor, who schooled her in the rules of syntax and grammar.
From assistant editor, Laurie moved on to Parks and Recreation to become a communications generalist. She had worked in so many different communications roles, she was ready to serve internal clients, who needed help with anything communications—advertising, print production, event support, and media. When Parks and Recreation joined Community and Family Services to become Community Services, Laurie’s client list grew to include social services, as well as parks and leisure centres.
Laurie eventually returned to Corporate Communications to help with the City newsletter for a couple of years. In 2010, she was seconded for a year to the City of Edmonton Election Project. When the election was over, she retired and joined Focus Communications.
“In communications, we’re constantly learning new things,” she says, admitting that even after decades in the business, there’s still much more to learn.