It was fitting that Charlene Wheeless, formerly VP, global corporate affairs, Bechtel Corporation, was named late last year to chair the Page board of trustees, succeeding Aedhmar Hynes. A Page member since 2012, Wheeless chaired Page's successful 2019 conference, in Boston. She’s also a highly regarded speaker at events that the group for senior communicators sponsors. She started her Page tenure this month.
Prior to her decade at Bechtel, Wheeless was VP of communications for Raytheon’s intelligence and information systems business unit. Before that, she was at American Management Systems and DynCorp.
We asked Wheeless about challenges senior communicators are having and how Page can help. We also inquired about what she’s gained from her Page experience and about themes she plans to emphasize during her tenure as chair.
PRNEWS: What do you want the theme of your tenure at Page to be?
Charlene Wheeless: Relevance. Businesses are redefining and remaking themselves in response to disruption. Page research shows the CCO is stepping up on corporate brand and culture. They're also emphasizing how their enterprises create societal value.
I see a powerful new opportunity for CCOs to be relevant, central leaders in transformation. That’s why I’m so excited about the chance to lead Page at this moment.
CCOs can – and really, we must – also step up in new ways. Page is working to build up its professional learning programs. I see Page’s role as helping CCOs be stronger leaders who bring additional value to their enterprises – commercially and for society.
PRNEWS: What challenges facing senior communicators do you plan to address during your tenure?
Wheeless: A big one is that these new roles for the CCO demand new knowledge and skills, both for themselves and their teams. Acquiring new talent is great, but we also need to retrain our people to work in new ways.
As an example, CommTech isn’t just about new platforms and tools. We need our teams to think differently about how data helps us understand people as individuals and engage them in personalized ways. We need to design content journeys that account for human behavior. In addition, we must optimize those journeys by continually refining content. We’re entering a new era for our profession, and Page can help us lean into that.
In addition, the characteristics of the most successful CCOs and their teams are changing. Today’s environment calls for multidisciplinary teams and CCOs who can work effectively across the C-suite and the entire organization.
PRNEWS: You’ve been a Page member for seven years. What have been the benefits from your time at Page that convinced you to remain involved with the organization?
Wheeless: The professional relationships and personal friendships are extremely important and have made participating in Page invaluable. It’s satisfying to be a part of an organization that’s making our profession better.
But as a CCO, it’s also a place to get exposed to the latest thinking, explore common challenges, learn from each other, and stay ahead of the curve. It also allows me to connect with CCOs at the companies Bechtel considers clients or partners. That additional connection is extremely valuable.
I have grown personally and professionally during my time at Page. In addition to all that we do in our programs, we also are working to evolve the profession, to challenge conventional thinking, and put diversity, inclusion, and belonging at the forefront of the minds of our members.
It’s an awesome honor and responsibility.
Seth Arenstein is editor of PRNEWS
NOTE: This content appeared originally in PRNEWS, November 2019. For subscription information, please visit: http://www.prnewsonline.com/about/info