Dianne Squires is a former dancer and choreographer who is now Group President – Strategic Planning at G&A Communications Inc.
“Are you still dancing?”
I’m still greeted with that phrase by people who knew me only as a dancer at least ten years ago. Little do they know how I’ve moved on and what I now do every day. To be frank, I can see why they would ask, because for the ten plus years that I was a dancer and choreographer, I was a lot more visible in the public domain than I am now working in marketing communications. Now my clients get the limelight more than I do and that is just fine.
Stumbling into the marketing communications field was a little bizarre because I was always certain that only extroverts could thrive or even survive in the field. It just always seemed to be the gregarious types who were Marketing Managers and Public Relations Officers or Corporate Communications Specialists. So taking my step into an industry of ‘talkers’ was quite petrifying, after all, I was accustomed to being able to get away with just expressing myself in movement – no chatter required. Nevertheless, I had a keen interest in business. So after a brief stint developing programmes for the arts as an independent practitioner and then as a part of a team at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, I knew that marketing communications was the small key to open the door of business to me.
Fortunately, I ended up here at G&A Communications and was thrown in head first – which by the way was the absolute best way for me to learn. I remember during my orientation, my then supervisor joking that when she was given the opportunity to start out with G&A, she hardly had a clue what the business really did or what marketing and advertising was about but she pitched in, learned the ropes and fell in love. My story is almost the same, except that I didn’t fall in love, I just had an epiphany. I still felt that she fit the bill more than I did, she after all, had the gift of the gab, but what I was definitely good at was pitching in and learning the ropes. I figured I could get better at the talking thing, even if just a little. What I aimed for was competence and then excellence. I developed a thirst for learning what was required to do my job well, and the people and partners that could make it happen.
Ironically, it turned out that my dance background had prepared me well, because digging deep and putting in hours and hours of practice and self assessment was what it took then, just to get a step right or the angle of the body correct or to give precise meaning to the audience with a well-timed gesture. That is also what it takes to become adept at the craft of managing brands, managing clients and managing people in the marketing communications industry. Understanding and interpreting feedback from a choreographer, dance partner or teacher and translating that into better execution of an idea was as critical as perfecting technique. Thank goodness I’d learned that skill because it is one of the most valuable ones to develop in order to work effectively across teams, client industries and … with your boss.
So while I’m definitely not the talkative type and I am conclusively just a former dancer, at least I now have a ready response for that awkward question.
When people ask me “Are you still dancing?” I’ll say “Yes, but to a different tune.”
What’s your story on how you entered this field? Drop me a note here. I’d love to hear it.