Sasha Blaney|Jul 7, 2015

“Look to lead, not just follow.”

There’s a reason rbb is often awarded “Best Place To Work,” and it starts with CEO Christine Barney’s workplace philosophies. The above quote isn’t a canned message point; those are words Christine believes in to establish an employee-driven workplace.

At rbb, we have always been encouraged to join civic organizations in the community to develop our professional relationships and involve ourselves beyond our everyday work life, thus fostering our inspirations outside of PR.

That’s something Christine took to heart when she was recently named the Chairman for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. In her welcome speech, she spoke of her career and the path that has led her to where she is today.

Given my personal experience with PRSA Miami and the Chamber’s HYPE committee, I wanted to know more about her journey to becoming the Chairman and what advice she could offer budding PR pros.

Sasha: What influenced you to first join the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, as well as your decision to accept the role of Chairman?

Christine: I started in the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce in my twenties following the lead of Bruce Rubin, our firm’s original founder. He reinforced the importance of civic involvement. I accepted the role because the Chamber is the most dynamic business organization in South Florida and I want to be a part of driving positive change.

Sasha: How have your experiences/different roles in the Chamber impacted who you are today, and how will they help you in the year ahead?

Christine: I have served in many roles in the chamber but aside from learning different subject matters, every position reinforced three things that I use in business and in life.

  • The importance of building relationships
  • Give rather than take
  • Don’t be afraid to act – the worst decision is to make no decision

Sasha: Why do you think it’s important for employees/business people to get involved with civic groups?

Christine: Everyone should take the opportunity to shape the community in which we live, work and play.

Sasha: What can companies do to encourage their employees to be more involved in their communities?

Christine: Set a good example.  We learn by watching others. Senior leaders should invite employees to shadow their activity and mentor them through the steps of choosing and engaging in a community group.  Many, like rbb, not only incentivize employees but facilitate the process by allowing paid time off to pursue civic and community groups and providing financial stipends to support the activity.

Sasha: What advice would you give someone who just joined a civic group, especially to balance their work and civic group responsibilities?

Christine: First make sure you joined a group in which you truly have an interest or passion. Joining is only the first step.  If you don’t engage, you will get nothing out of it. Map out a plan each of year that details your goals, strategy and activity.  Then stick to it.  Pick one or two things and engage deeply as opposed to just going to a bunch of things to network. The relationships you build within the group will accelerate your engagement and help you achieve your goals faster.  Look to lead, not just follow.


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