Anyone who has felt the cold terror of speaking in front of several hundred people will envy Joe Connors’ way of seeing things.
“It’s weird, the bigger the group, the more comfortable I am. It just becomes a sea of faces. I don’t like to have a script too much. I know what needs to be said, so I have some notes but, at the same time, once I get into the energy of the event, it all just kind of flows from there,” says the one-man communications team for Fluor Canada.
Case in point: Last year, when Fluor asked him to emcee its employee service awards banquet, he took the podium in front of a thousand people and knocked it out of the park. People heard the message of appreciation. He made them feel comfortable. He made them laugh and people still tell him that they hope he will emcee the event again this year.
“If I get asked to, I probably will,” Connors says.
Call it a gift, chalk it up to speaking in front of groups from age 12, or just see it as an extension of Connors’ personality—smart, engaging and at ease in any social situation.
Joe Connors is one of the Fluor/Oilweek 2018 Rising Stars. To read all of their stories, click here.
As for being a one-man communications team, Fluor typically has just one communicator for each of its branches. In Canada, that’s Connors, but he’s supported by Fluor’s global network of communicators in other regions and on specific projects.
“So I handle internal communications, external communications, media relations, social media—it makes for an exciting day because my days are never the same. For example, I just hung up from a conference call with all of our global communicators,” he says.
Connors grew up in the land of curious place names (Newfoundland), in a community called Tickle Cove. Helping out was a way of life for the family. His father, the last of a long line of fisherman, was also a volunteer firefighter, a member of Knights of Columbus and cooked huge meals for seniors at various events. He was adamant that his son and two daughters also support the community.
Coming to Calgary, Connors plugged into the United Way.
“We didn’t have that kind of organization back home. But when I saw what they were doing and all the services that they were funding and all the people that benefitted, I was immediately enamored,” he says.
Connors led United Way workplace campaigns at each company that he worked for—Devon, Penn West and now Fluor. He also volunteers with United Way on his own time, having led its Young Professionals initiative locally, and having sat on its board communications committee.
“Volunteer interests evolve and, while I still volunteer and participate in United Way events, I have since switched it up a bit. My dad was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a few years ago, so I’ve been dedicating most of my fundraising and volunteering to that cause,” he says. “Also, each year, instead of exchanging Christmas gifts, a group of friends and I go to the Kirby Centre downtown and bring them presents and make them a meal and cookies.”
Education: Bachelor of Arts (Hons), Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2002; Bachelor of Public Relations, Mount Saint Vincent University, 2006
Favourite charities: Cancer Care Foundation (Newfoundland & Labrador), Light the Night Walk
First job: Government-funded summer program for students (cleaning and maintaining the community where I grew up).
If not for your career, what would you be doing: It would have to be something I love. I really enjoy spending time working in the garden, so I like to think that maybe I’d own a small greenhouse—somewhere warm.
Best advice received: Never be embarrassed to ask for help. It isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s simply recognizing that others have value to add.
Favourite pastime: I’ve always been a runner. I’m currently training for a marathon, so that takes up a lot of my spare time.
Favourite book or movie: Hug Your Haters: How to embrace complaints and keep your customers, by Jay Baer
Other interests/passions: My husband and I are currently on our second home renovation and we make a point of doing most of the work ourselves. We’ve learned a lot and there’s a strong feeling of accomplishment that comes with it.