Leanne Zee

Senior Communications Specialist, TransCanada.

Describe a typical day

Like many public relations practitioners, my favorite thing about my profession is that every day has the potential to be a different adventure. My role varies from writing assignments, to strategy development, to issues management.  It’s a great fit for someone with my personality and skill set, as I operate most effectively when I have multiple projects and competing timelines.

Perks of your job and things you like about your current company.

TransCanada invests a lot of time and effort in developing its people.  In my seven years with the company, I’ve worked in both internal and external communications, have had exposure to crisis and change management, and have traveled across Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Ghana.  There is no shortage of opportunities with this company and I continue to grow and evolve as a professional; even if that sometimes takes me beyond the scope of my current role.

Proudest accomplishments both in and outside of work.

At work, I’m most proud of the international secondment I completed in 2013 where I supported Engineers Without Borders on a project aimed at changing the communications capacity in Ghana.  I worked on the ground with venture staff there for half a year, advising on brand and marketing strategy, stakeholder engagement and business development.  It was an extremely challenging environment and one that provided me with space and confidence to grow as a strategic advisor and build my capacity as a leader.  It was during this trip, while I was away from the hectic pace of my normal professional life, that I was able to focus in on my career aspirations and truly give some thought to what I want to achieve.

Outside of work, over the last five years, I’ve picked up motocross as a hobby and discovered that it is something I really enjoy.  I’m proud of myself because it’s so far outside of my personal scope that I have really had to be intentional and dedicated to being part of the sport.  I’ve fallen off, gotten injured, been scared and scarred (physically and mentally) and STILL I climb back on my bike.  I love the fast pace and the problem-solving nature of navigating an off-road trail for the first time.  Joining the motocross community has taught me lessons in perseverance and commitment, and has shown me that I’m so much stronger than I ever believed I was.  I also really love the dichotomy of being a woman in a male dominated space and the surprised look on people’s faces when they learn that I ride a dirt bike on the weekends.

Thoughts on the future of the industry as it relates to your field.

Our opposition has taken up the bulk of the spotlight when it comes to the conversation surrounding energy and it has resulted in a lot of misinformation and decision-making based on popular opinion rather than fact.  I think there is a lot of pressure on communicators today to help support the industry and look at new ways of doing things. It’s an equally challenging and exciting time to be a communicator.

Current community involvement efforts.

Following my time in Ghana I felt a strong connection and impulse to do something to support women and girls in developing countries.  They are a huge and largely untapped resource who, if empowered and enabled, could help us to solve some of the most substantial systemic challenges that we face globally.  I’m currently the co-chair of the CARE Canada Walk In Her Shoes committee in Calgary.  We’ve held successful events for the past two years and are striving to grow brand awareness and support for CARE in our local market.  This year, we raised more than $120,000 in support of maternal health programs in Tanzania.  With the 13:1 matching dollars from the Federal government, we’ve amassed more than $1.3 million in funding.  It’s a cause that my co-chair Kirstie Boyle and I are extremely passionate about!

Why YWE?

Similar to my community involvement interests, I often look for opportunities to connect with and support women in my professional life as well.  YWE presents a valuable opportunity for strong and motivated women to share their learnings and triumphs with one another.  With our unique perspectives and skillsets, we are best positioned to understand and empower one another.  And if I find something that works for me, I’m always really excited to share it with another woman and see if it works for her too.

What are you reading?

I’m currently in the middle of The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.  It’s a novel about family dysfunction and drama surrounding a long awaited and debated inheritance.  I love to read in my spare time and try to mix it up between reading for fun and reading for professional development.  Next up is Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, which I was inspired to grab off the Indigo shelf earlier this year when YWE featured it as a book club read!