Alumnus of the Month - Lynn Hammond

Lynn Hammond is an executive consultant with her company High Stakes Strategy & Communications in St. John’s, NL.

Her career experience has included senior roles in the public service including Director of Communications for government departments including Municipal Affairs, Fire and Emergency Services, Education and Post-Secondary Education. She also held position in the Communications Branch of Executive Council and the Office of the Premier.
Lynn is an active volunteer and is best known for her role as co-chair of the NL Chapter of Equal Voice, a national multi-partisan organization that seeks to elect more women to all levels of public office.

Her work with High Stakes Strategy & Communications focuses on senior executive support for high profile companies and organizations.

This is how Lynn describes herself to potential clients and colleagues.

I am a "fixer" - I define problems and find solutions.
I am a "connector" - I get the right people together.
I am a "simplifier" - I help explain anything to anyone.
I am a "story-teller" - I deliver information with a lasting impression.

How and why did you decide to attend Memorial for your undergraduate degree?

In 1994, at 17 years old, I was the youngest girl to graduate from my high school. I was born and raised in St. John’s so I didn’t consider anywhere else.

Do any particular memories stand out from your time here as an undergraduate/graduate student?

I would always read the posters in the political science department about opportunities to participate in initiatives at other universities. In my third year, I decided to apply for a seven day opportunity at Princeton University to study liberty and policy. I was accepted. I was one three Canadians of a total of 50 students who were mostly Americans from Ivy League schools.

After that experience I had the confidence to apply for other initiatives. The next summer I went to Georgetown University with the same organization to study media and politics, and spent six weeks studying French at the Universite D’Montreal.

The lesson I learned was that you have to be “in it to win it.” If you don’t step up and take a chance you will never know what you are capable of.

What drew you to study political science?

I grew up watching the evening news with my parents. I worked on my first political campaign at 12 years old.

In high school I thought that I wanted to be a lawyer and then a politician. I saw it as a path to fixing problems and helping people.

I decided against law school but expect that politics is a part of my future.

How does your study of political science inform your work as a communications professional?

Any course of action that I recommend has the potential to positively or negatively impact people, companies, or other stakeholders.
As a communications professional it is important for me to be able to clearly identify the problem or opportunity and anticipate possible outcomes resulting from action or inaction.

To do that I have to be research, assemble data, consider alternate perspectives, and communicate my findings.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

Make a decision and own it.

What has your biggest professional challenge been to date?

My biggest professional challenge has been to learn how to deal with “difficult personalities”. I have experienced more than a few. Through those experiences, I think that I have developed a good understanding of the different types of personalities, which is why I work well with a variety of people.

I say “difficult personality” rather than “difficult person” because certain personalities have unique needs. Some require validation and reassurance while others thrive with debate. When you understand and respond with what the “personality” needs to be successful, you can have a more productive working relationship with the person.

In a perfect world, what initiative (building, service, cultural offering, etc.) would you add to St. John’s to make it a better place?

I would like to see a dedicated centre for children for the exploration of science. We have the GeoCentre and the Fluvarium, which are both fantastic, but I would like to see a dedicated facility that has rotating exhibits and programs for children and families.

My children have a keen interest in science and while our books and kitchen experiments are great, I would love for them to have a greater opportunity to explore these interests in a fun learning environment.

In what ways has studying humanities/social sciences affected your world view?

Social sciences challenge you to be open minded when reading material that is in opposition to your personal ideology.

I still make a point of reading things that challenge me to consider the perspectives of others… including local “unnamed” political bloggers. If you assume that you know everything then you lose the opportunity to learn something new.

Critical thinking and analytic skills will be an asset in any career path. They afford us an opportunity to step outside of our own experience and to look at the bigger picture.

What do you say to those who question the value of an arts degree?

The document on your wall will not make you successful. I believe that is true of any degree. Success comes from the choices that you make.
With that said, my arts degree has served me well. It provided me with a foundation of skills that I can leverage on any career path.

What advice would you give a student who is unsure of what to study?

Don’t be afraid to try courses that are outside of your comfort zone. In hindsight, I would have done more courses in psychology and anthropology.

What’s your favorite place to visit?

In St. John’s my favourite place is Bowring Park. I grew up and now live nearby.

What are you reading these days?

I usually read books that help me to contemplate the future particularly in social science and business. I bounce between heavy and lighter reading depending on what I am working on at the time.

I rarely read novels … but recently I read Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. It is fiction, but was a huge eye opener of the realities of social media and bullying.

As a communications professional with a keen interest in politics and government I am looking really looking forward to reading Dr. Alex Marland’s new book Brand Command: Canadian Politics and Democracy in the Age of Message Control.

What are you most looking forward to within the next year?

Life is good … so more of the same would be fantastic!