Sue Heuman, Principal / Executive Advisor | Focus Communications

Sue Heuman

Principal / Executive Advisor

"I am 21 years old and on a bus with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, and the gang, taking them to a parade route."

After graduating from MacEwan with a diploma in Advertising and Public Relations, Sue became a copywriter for Woodward’s—Western Canada’s own department store. The inhouse agency produced print ads for newspapers throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan. Sue describes those days as, “Mad Men without the drinking.”

On Fridays—payday—she took her envelope of $20 bills and tried not to spend it all before exiting through the revolving doors.

Next, Sue joined the City of Edmonton’s Corporate Communications Office as a Public Information Officer.

After a few years as the Mayor’s Communications Officer (Cec Purves, Laurence Decore), she was directing events.

“I had a Forest Gump life,” she says. “The first few events I worked on were Eskimo Grey Cup parades and Oilers Stanley Cup events, followed closely by the royal visit of Charles and Diana. I am 21 years old and on a bus with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, and the gang, taking them to a parade route. Unreal.”

Sue became the City’s events director and kept that role for several years before moving to Community Services as a senior communications officer. During that time, she became accredited through the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). The process took several years and involved being evaluated by an international team of senior communicators. The ABC designation is proof of accreditation.

Sue then took her interest in community service and social justice to the next level. In 1998, she became vice-president of communications for the United Way of Alberta Capital Region. She also began volunteering in a huge way with IABC, first at the local level and then internationally.

She is past Director of IABC Accreditation Exams, Past Chair of the international IABC Chapter Relations Task Force, and Past Chair of the IABC Global Communication Certification Council.

Volunteer work showed her she could be an industry leader. In 2001, she left the United Way to form her own company, Strategic Communications Management. A year and a half later, one of her clients, the City of St. Albert, hired her as the director of communications. And, a year and a half after that, Sue teamed up with husband Dean Heuman, who was working for an agency, Sandcastle.

Dean’s stories about fabulous clients and creative challenges convinced Sue that she preferred the precarious agency life to the routine security of full-time employment.

In 2002, she and Dean formed Focus Communications.

In 2018, Sue received the prestigious Master Communicator designation, IABC highest honour in Canada. It recognizes outstanding career achievements; contributions to the communications profession; thought leadership, teaching and writing in communications; service and leadership in IABC; and, overall contributions to the community. Master Communicators are nominated and selected by their peers.

Sue currently serves on IABC’s Foundation Fundraising Committee at the international level. Sue is also a member of IAF (International Association of Facilitators). In 2016, Sue received IABC’s international Rae Hamlin Award and was IABC Edmonton’s Communicator of the Year. In her spare time, Sue loves fashion and holds an Image Consulting Certificate from Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

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