Carrie-Anne Atkins started her career journey where many Durham College (DC) Public Relations students do – a third-year placement gaining real-world experience in a fast-paced agency. After graduating in 1998, she cut her teeth as an account
co-ordinator at Environics Communications, a PR agency in Toronto. There, she worked closely with big technology and consumer clients like Yahoo!
“Back when it was ‘King of the Internet,’” she quips.
“I loved agency life. The experience taught me how to think on my feet and to hustle, and the PR program at DC really provided me with the stepping stones for a successful career in communications,” shares Carrie-Anne. “There is a direct correlation between my third-year placement at a downtown PR agency and my first job at a PR agency. Without that line on my resume I may never have gotten my foot in the door.”
In 2000, Carrie-Anne joined Ontario Power Generation (OPG), exploring roles in employee communications as well as community relations and outreach. Today, she works closely with OPG’s neighbouring business community, strategic partners, local government and conservation authorities, as well as community organizations such as DC to maintain a free flow of information between stakeholders and the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station.
While Carrie-Anne is involved in all kinds of diverse projects through her role with OPG, her favourite part of her job is the support she provides to community-based educational programming, such as Bring Back the Salmon and the Atlantic Salmon Classroom Hatchery Program. This community-based bio-diversity initiative is run by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters in support of the Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program, and OPG has educational hatcheries located at both the Darlington and Pickering Nuclear Information Centres.
“Working with local community and school groups provides me with the opportunity to not only talk about our business at OPG but to also learn and develop relationships with the community members,” says Carrie-Anne. “When we issued a call for Grade 5 classes located in the Cobourg area to help with Bring Back the Salmon, we were blown away with the response. Forget about cloud nine, we were on cloud 10! One classroom produced an entire video of why they wanted to get involved. Think about how that message is now organically cascading.”
As Carrie-Anne continues to work closely with the community through her work with OPG, she also volunteers her time outside of the office, serving as a member of the Oshawa Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee, and previously as a member of the Whitby Chamber of Commerce Advocacy Committee and Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade Communications and Marketing Committee. In addition, she currently serves as vice chair for the Durham Community Foundation Board of Trustees, and served from 2013 to 2016 as a board trustee for Victim Services of Durham Region.
“I love working closely with stakeholders to help our community thrive and do well,” says Carrie-Anne about her combined volunteer work and career. “In the end, the old saying is true: love what you do. Couple that with being a proud, hard-working DC alumna and good things will happen.”