📈 Internal Communications Introductions: Meet Tracey Pavlishin
Senior Director, Head of Americas Marketing and Global Internal Communications + Alumni Engagement - Kearney
I enjoyed talking with Tracey Pavlishin to learn about her career path. This is her internal communications story.
Tracey Pavlishin is Senior Director of marketing and communications with the global management consulting firm Kearney. In this role, she charts the strategic vision for marketing initiatives in the Americas region, has direct responsibility for leading employee lifecycle marketing, and shapes executive leadership communications. Key initiatives under her stewardship include content creation, global branding for campus recruiting, employee engagement, and strengthening the firm’s alumni network.
As a member of the six-person Americas Leadership Team, Ms. Pavlishin oversees the operations and strategic direction for the region. She is passionate about developing leaders and supporting teams in delivering extraordinary brand experiences for Kearney employees, alumni, and clients.
Prior to this role, Ms. Pavlishin held various senior administrator roles at The University of Chicago from campaign fundraising strategy to volunteer management and alumni program development. Ms. Pavlishin brings 15 years of non-profit management experience to her leadership of marketing and communications at Kearney.
Ms. Pavlishin received her MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She has an undergraduate degree in International Studies from Emory University. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two sons, and her mother.
What sparked your professional path into Internal Communications?
I arrived here by accident! I started my career in nonprofit fundraising, which involves a lot of writing and communication—ranging from direct mail solicitations to individual outreach for meetings (requiring a phone script) to producing an event (requiring speech writing).
Five years ago, I left higher education to join Kearney, which is a global management consulting firm. I was recruited to strengthen the alumni program, but over the years, my role has evolved. Today I oversee Americas Marketing, Internal Communications, Recruitment Marketing, and the Alumni Program.
I fell into internal communications because I enjoy writing. While I do battle writer’s block, I am not intimidated by a blank piece of paper. I am fearless, authentic, and clear and I have discovered that this makes me a really nice ghostwriter and editor. It took me a while to realize that this is a unique skill. I thought everyone felt just as comfortable writing as I do. The truth is that communications gives a lot of people anxiety. So, I've learned this is something valuable that I contribute to teams.
How do you describe internal communications to others?
Internal communications is about being precise. It’s also about storytelling. Most importantly, it’s about connecting with people—you need to figure out “What’s in it for the audience? What do they care about?” and how your message compliments that.
Before the pandemic, I would have had a different answer than I have today. It was always about the vision and strategy, but now it's much more than that—it's the heart of every organization!
2020 was a trying and challenging year, but it marked an exciting shift in how others view Internal Communications and how they're leaning into it. Internal Communications is no longer only about delivering information in a clear, consistent, and transparent manner.
It’s now more than ever about creating communities, supporting employee engagement, motivating and inspiring team members around a shared purpose, celebrating wins, and providing support—all of these wonderful topics are part of Internal Communications.
What is one project you are particularly proud to have accomplished?
My human resources colleagues launched an initiative last year on mental health and well-being. It was in the works before the pandemic, but the importance and need were amplified during a year when we were working remote and seeking connection.
The campaign was called “This is me” to highlight the benefits and resources available to support employees. At the end of the year, we had a global town hall where we wanted to showcase this mental health campaign in a meaningful way.
In one week, we produced a video about “Taking the first step.” Colleagues courageously shared how they took the first step either by asking their manager for help or noticing that some of their team members were struggling with mental health and asking “Are you ok?” These real stories were powerful reminders that taking the first step is scary, but colleagues and the firm will support you.
Studies indicate that mental illness thrives in silence. Even when someone knows that resources and support are available, many people are paralyzed to take action—they have never sought help and may not know how to find a therapist. The video told the stories of people who took that first step.
I'm proud of this project for the authenticity of the stories. The many colleagues who were willing to share their personal journey made it truly powerful. It made a difference by reducing the stigma of seeking help and showed the power of storytelling to deliver an impactful message.
What are the skills that are most important for someone to succeed in Internal Communications?
I think the number one skill is to be compassionate. To be a great storyteller, you have to see the world from the audience’s point of view — why do they care and what’s in it for them. It’s more about the story they want to hear than the story you want to tell. You have to ask yourself—how do you make it resonate and relatable? If you look at communications that have gone wrong, often it’s because the plan is shaped around what the author wants to say rather than what the audience needs to hear and meeting them where they are at that moment.
You also need to be confident. It’s important to be comfortable with criticism because you are often writing first drafts, you are putting forth ideas that may end up on the cutting-room floor…and you can't take it personally. You need confidence to put ideas, thought starters, and the audience’s perspective on the table. Similarly, you need to be fearless to suggest topics or viewpoints that may not be on the radar of the project team—if it were not for you being in the room and at the table, then these ideas might not be represented.
Personally, I have battled with imposter syndrome. I have believed that I’m at the table only to represent communications. I would encourage everyone to think about the fact that you’re at the table because you bring value—you’re not just executing a plan, but shaping the plan. You're not just at the table as an implementer, you're there as a thinker. You need to have the confidence and fearlessness to know your own value.
You also need to be resilient. When I was a fundraiser, I learned that no doesn’t always mean no—it often means not right now. In my current role, I pitch a ton of ideas and they don’t always get implemented, but I don’t get rid of them. I revisit them every few months by reminding leaders: “We talked about this a few months ago. It wasn’t the right time, what do you think about now?”
How do you continue learning about the field of Internal Communications?
I read a lot of books, magazines, articles, emails and solicitations. I’m always trying to see what resonates with me and how I can adopt anything to the communications that I'm responsible for in my role.
I ask for a lot of feedback, so I'm always looking back at presentations or communications campaigns to determine ways to improve. I try to collect both qualitative and quantitative feedback to help guide what the audience is looking for and make adjustments.
What would you say to someone considering a career in internal communications?
Internal Communications is not a career that I sought, but it is a part of my work that I love. If you enjoy connecting with people, sharing stories, celebrating successes, and helping others achieve their goals whether it’s change management or setting the direction of a leadership team, then internal communications would be a great career for you.
I think internal communications is a great career because you are at the heart of company priorities and shaping how those get shared broadly.