Wendy Tynan’s career plan hinges on three questions: Does she like what she’s doing? Does she like the people she’s working with? And, is she getting smarter?
If the answer is no to any of the three questions, she moves on to the next job.
“You never know who you will meet or what opportunities will be there in a year or two or five,” says Tynan about her loose plan that leaves plenty of room for career redirection. So far, the plan has taken her from accounting to politics in less than 10 years.
Ten years ago, she began an articling position at accounting behemoth Ernst & Young. On the cusp of a lucrative career crunching numbers, Tynan knew her heart wasn’t in it and walked away.
Instead, she went into public relations, working for alumni events and sponsorship at SAIT and then the University of Calgary, followed by two years as director of development for the U of C’s Taylor Family Digital Library. The $300-million fundraising strategy she helped design and execute will result in a 265,000-square-foot building filled with digital and printed resources, rare books, artwork and a museum.
The library will open in fall 2010, but Tynan has already moved on.
She now works as special advisor to Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Alison Redford. Tynan’s role puts her at the centre of the $460-million Safe Communities initiative. The unprecedented project brings nine provincial cabinets — led by the Ministry of Justice — together with police, community groups, municipalities, businesses and social agencies to implement long-term crime prevention and reduction strategies. The project is adding police and parole officers to the streets, funding addiction treatment beds and beefing up support to limit repeat offenders and decrease organised crime.
Tynan is the glue that holds it together, acting as a liaison between all the stakeholders and making sure they are all on the same page.
“I get to be part of decisions that will change the future of Alberta,” says Tynan. “It’s a pretty unbelievable opportunity that I have been given.”
Throughout her career changes, Tynan’s volunteer work on the Calgary Stampede’s Grandstand Committee has been a constant. She is halfway through a two-year term as chair of the committee and is responsible for strategic planning and managing the show’s $3.8-million annual budget.
The former Young Canadian has been on the committee since graduating from the performing arts school in 1992 and credits the Young Canadians program with giving her the guts to go after what she wants.
“I got so much out of the Young Canadians,” she says. “At 16 years old, I could stand on stage with a live microphone in front of 20,000 people. If you can do that, you can do a lot of things.”
Why she’s the top: She coordinates communication between nine government ministries to implement long-term crime prevention initiatives and, on her vacation time, volunteers 16 hours a day at the Calgary Stampede.
The key to her success: “Professionally, there are things that I can step away from and be proud of, but I don’t get caught up in that,” says Tynan. “My own personal integrity and the relationships I have with family and friends are a greater reward than anything that could happen professionally.”