Communications Specialist, Dairy Farmers of Ontario
When it comes to a career in communications, Sulafa Hakami has hit the ground running. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Sulafa lives in Toronto and works with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario as a Communication Specialist. She leads communications for all Ontario dairy producers and some processors across the industry, including collaborations with different industry partners, newsletters and media pitches and ensuring all communications stay on message. “I’m loving it, because it is a new industry for me,” says Sulafa. “Coming from a non-dairy culture, there is an initial learning curve to understand the industry and communicate its impact.”
After completing an undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia, she accepted a one-year graduate program with General Electric in Saudi Arabia. With the intent to work in different departments, Sulafa soon fell into communications and started her career as a Communications Leader. This led her to a role within the oil and gas side of the company’s business, leading communications in four countries in the Persian Gulf and working with media outlets across the Middle East. “I learned a lot about the function and field of communication,” says Sulafa. “Working with different departments, businesses and visiting work sites gave me insight into what makes a good story, amplifying successful employee stories, local wins and keeping messaging consistent and reflective of what people want to know.”
Upon moving to Toronto, Sulafa set her sights on building knowledge and skills. This led her to complete a postgraduate degree in public relations at York University and join IABC/Toronto. Her motivation was to network with colleagues and exchange ideas and best practices. A volunteer with the Professional Development and Networking portfolio, she now helps organize events and bring together panels of experts.
For Sulafa, the value of volunteering and building a professional network stems from learning to continuously invest in yourself. “Be open to accepting and utilizing the resources around you,” says Sulafa. “Whether you are interested in writing, speaking, presenting or improving current skills, there are many options available through IABC and other resources to continue developing your professional level of focus.”