Who am I? 
I’m Kelly O’Hanlon and I am the Vice Chair and Budget Manager for the CIPR Midlands committee, plus I am the PRide Awards Coordinator this year too. 

Career background 
I have been working in PR for 16 years now and have worked in two agencies before going in a different direction as Senior Lecturer in PR and Media at Birmingham City University, with some consulting work too. 

I previously studied Media and Communications at BCU myself, and then began my career at WPR Agency in 2005. Working my way through the ranks to Head of Division, and responsible for B2C and B2B home and lifestyle accounts, I then moved after more than a decade to creative agency One Black Bear, to help introduce a PR arm to the business as a Director. I joined BCU as Senior Lecturer in PR and Media in 2006 and have developed the course provision, reputation and industry links ever since. 

How long have you been a volunteer? 
I have been a volunteer for the CIPR Midlands committee for four years now, initially as Treasurer.  

What made you want to volunteer with us and how did you get involved?  
Coming into academia from practice, I knew how important it was going to be to reflect current industry practice through our BA and MA programmes. Being a member of the CIPR is recognition for your commitment to professional standards and life-long learning. In having a closer working relationship to the CIPR, I knew it would be beneficial to my own career but crucially, the insights and connections gained could be used to greatly benefit the students I teach. 
My nomination was supported by Rachel Roberts from spottydog communications, and I soon joined the committee to sit alongside a great mix of existing and new colleagues. 

What kind of work do you do on the committee?  
Since I started volunteering with CIPR Midlands, I have helped to budget plan and balance the books, and at the last AGM, I was proud to join Aimee Postle, our new Chair, as VC. The core committee team discusses opportunities to support the overarching aims and directives of the CIPR, whilst planning and providing tailored events to professionals in our region, and I have even joined the panel to talk on occasion too. 

What's been the best thing about volunteering so far?  
The people. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with such a broad network of communications professionals and it’s so rewarding to put the profession under the microscope and consider a host of perspectives. 

Any particular highlight or achievement you're most proud of?  
I’m particularly proud to have been part of the conception and delivery of the Midlands PR Conference, first hosted at BCU in 2018, with it returning a year later to even greater success.  

Did you volunteer through the pandemic and how was that?  
The committee has been going strong throughout the pandemic and the obvious challenges aside (such as finding the perfect platform), we’ve been able to deliver consistent and well-received event content online throughout. The conference has evolved into a virtual festival this year too. 

Why is volunteering important?  
I’ve always been a firm believer of getting out what you put in, and volunteering is a great way to keep connected, challenge your perspectives and to network with professionals outside of your immediate circle. 

What would you say to another member thinking of volunteering? 
You can devote as much time as you like to make volunteering work for you, but factoring it into your own professional development will be enlightening and rewarding.