What are some of the cool things you can do with a communications degree? This week’s Leading Ladies interview helps answer that question.
In her role as a communications manager at KPMG, LaCanas Tucker impacts multiple facets of the business. Last fall, her achievements were recognized by her alma mater when she received the Gutenberg Award, which honors the professional achievements of Journalism and Mass Communication Department alumni at Abilene Christian University.
LaCanas is always one of my first calls when I organize panels of business professionals to meet with college students and new grads. Her advice is practical and straightforward, delivered with quick wit and elegant style.
And if all of those things weren’t enough – she has a beautiful singing voice. If you ever come to our church, if LaCanas is not up on stage singing that morning, you want to sit next to her to listen to and harmonize with her.
Let me introduce you to…
What do you do?
I am a communications manager for KPMG, one of the Big 4 accounting and consulting firms. I recently started working in their Risk Management group. I’m responsible for sharing the work Risk Management does to support the firm’s business, so my work is primarily internally focused.
You have been with the company for a long time, continually moving up and taking on larger roles. Tell us about your career path.
I had a few different jobs out of school that were all over the place and didn’t fit any particular career path. Once I got to KPMG as an admin assistant, I built my resume by taking on additional assignments and learning new skills. My extra efforts were noticed and eventually rewarded.
Where are you from, and where did you go to school?
I grew up in Oakton, Virginia, which is a suburb of Washington, DC. I graduated from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas where I studied communication and minored in political science.
What was your first job?
My first job out of college was working for a defense contractor outside of Washington, DC. I helped compile a taxonomy handbook for defense organizations. I stayed there for about six months before I moved to NYC.
How did you end up in NYC?
I quit my job and drove up here. My cousin was living in Brooklyn so I stayed with her for a few weeks before I found another job and an apartment. I haven’t driven a car in 15 years.
What is your typical work day like?
My work is project-oriented and I’m usually focused on a few projects at a time. KPMG has its own television studio and video network, online magazine and other internal and external publications so there are a lot of opportunities to write. I’ve written and/or edited newsletters, scripts for news and animation, policy, websites and mass emails. I’ve worked with business and law specialists to share points of view, and tech specialists to share new tools with the firm, clients or the public. I’m also responsible for organizing live presentations, producing exhibits for an internal audience and building and managing content for our internal website.
You have traveled extensively in your work. What are most fascinating places you have visited?
I’ve traveled domestically somewhat, but I did get to go to India a couple of years ago. India was fascinating because it is a country of extremes – extreme poverty and extreme wealth, but even very poor women wear beautiful saris. India is also a service oriented culture and it was difficult adjusting to someone constantly serving you when you’re used to doing everything yourself. I felt like Matthew in the first season of Downton Abbey.
What are your favorite things about living in NYC?
I love that everything I need is within four blocks of my apartment. I love walking home from the office at the end of the day. I love that a lot of very different people in a relatively small space have mostly agreed to just get along with each other.
What are your favorite books you have read within the last year?
One of the most interesting books I read in the last year was a biography of Coco Chanel. She is still incredibly influential, but was a surprisingly terrible person who came out of retirement and had a comeback in her 70s because she was annoyed with the fashion of the 1950s. I like biographies because they’re kind of a two-for-one. You get a history lesson along with the knowledge of that person’s world and contributions to society.
Tell us about your interest in music and singing. How did you get started with that?
I just grew up always singing. Singing at church, singing in the living room, in the car, the entire family singing at one of my aunts’ homes. I focused on piano and viola throughout school - one of my favorite memories from high school is playing weddings and events in a string quartet with orchestra friends for extra money. I got into singing again in my 20s. Because I sing at church, I see it as a way to use and appreciate my talent without pursuing it as a career.
What inspires you?
It is very energizing to hear others’ stories about what inspires them.
What advice would you offer to new grads starting their careers?
Be open minded. Take risks. Make decisions. Have faith that everything is going to work out. Volunteer to take on additional responsibilities so that you’re ready when an opportunity comes.
Thank you, LaCanas!
You can connect with LaCanas on LinkedIn.
Have a great week, everyone!
* All photos courtesy of LaCanas Tucker.