Since Gina Gibbs-Foster (BSJ95) graduated from Medill, she has held nine different titles and lived abroad and all around the U.S. But all of these opportunities have been part of Gibbs-Foster’s more than 15 years at The Dow Chemical Company.
Currently, she is the Director of Executive Communication at Dow. In her current job, Gibbs-Foster is responsible for ensuring the corporate executives effectively communicate strategic corporate messages that advance company objectives. She also manages the development of strategic corporate messaging and visibility strategies, provides direction for executive speechwriting, guides development of executive communications to influence key company stakeholders, including senior leaders, global employees, community leaders, government officials and investors and provide strategics communications counsel to corporate Executive Committee Members (Executive Vice Presidents.)
Gibbs-Foster started working at Dow in 1995, and within the year she was offered what she called a once in a lifetime opportunity to move to Switzerland to work in European marketing communications.
“I had never been outside the country at that point,” Gibbs-Foster says, “so of course I was very excited about the opportunity to go live and work abroad.”
Working at various positions within Dow has proven rewarding in many ways and Gibbs-Foster is impressed by how much the company values input from its communication team.
“I’d say what I most appreciate about working in public affairs in Dow is that we are literally on the decision-making tables in every single department of the company,” Gibbs-Foster says.
A desire to play a role in so many decisions is what drove Gibbs-Foster to pursue corporate communications. Originally she was interested in journalism because she liked writing and wanted to have an impact on the world, so it seemed like the logical fit. However, after a couple of internships at newspapers and TV stations, Gibbs-Foster realized that she wanted to change her path.
“I didn’t have as much of a passion for journalism per se as I did about writing and really being involved in making decisions and really being able to influence some of the stories I was writing about,” Gibbs-Foster says.
She heard about corporate communications as a means to influence from inside a company and shape the direction that corporations were taking on issues that she cared about.
“I started getting excited about the impact that I could make from inside a corporation,” Gibbs-Foster says, “not necessarily sitting at a news desk.”
It is that ability to shift gears that has served Gibbs-Foster well throughout her time at Dow and she advises people who are beginning their careers to do the same.
“Always keep an open mind and be willing to try things that you might not necessarily think that you’d be interested in,” Gibbs-Foster says. “ I’ve been pleasantly surprised in many cases with jobs that I’ve had. If you had asked me 20 years ago if I’d ever do that job, I wouldn’t know how to answer, but then I’ve gotten into that job and absolutely loved it.”