Woman to Watch: Tracy Cobb-Reeves
Working in communications has taken Tracy Cobb-Reeves from the fashion world of New York City and beyond, to Toronto, back to her hometown of Calgary and now to enjoying the Okanagan lifestyle.
As the director of communications for Kal Tire, Cobb-Reeves oversees all aspects of corporate media and in-house communications for Kal Tire, still based out of Vernon where the company was founded and now has 250 store locations across Canada, as well as operations in Australia, Africa, Europe and Latin America.
Her introduction to Kal Tire came as she was building her own marketing company, Sky Communications, in the Okanagan. Kal Tire was one of many business organizations she sought time with to introduce herself and find out how her marketing experience could be best put to use in the Okanagan, what marketing or communications demands she could identify at a time when few communications companies existed in the region.
“I eventually built up a list of clients from Summerland to Salmon Arm and one of those companies was Kal Tire. They invited me to help develop a communications strategy plan for the company as they didn’t have a communications department at the time,” she recalled.
“I submitted a plan and they liked it and asked if I would come work for them to help implement the strategy. That was in 2012 and I spent the following five months winding down my own business and joined Kal Tire. It’s been an exciting journey ever since.”
Cobb-Reeves was born and raised in Calgary, and went to school with an eye to breaking into the fashion industry in some way. “Communications wasn’t even a degree program back then at university. Now you can get a masters in communications so the attitude towards that profession has changed quite a bit over the years.”
Cobb-Reeves’ first break was getting a job in New York City, working as a communications assistant to fashion designer Peter Nygard. “I worked with the media, produced fashion shows and ran other events. I worked with Nygard for seven years and I travelled everywhere with him. Toronto was kind of my base but I was on the road a lot, changing cities almost every 10 days.”
After seven years of that, Cobb-Reeves was tiring of the travel and started looking for a new opportunity in a corporate structured environment. She eventually was headhunted to work for Revlon Canada, a job she enjoyed but as time passed she began wanting to return home to Alberta.
Through networking for job opportunities, she landed a position with the marketing firm of Arlene Dickenson, well known as one of the panel on the Dragon’s Den show for eight seasons, which exposed Cobb-Reeves to working with a gamut of different clients, from non-profits and municipal governments to high tech and business sectors.
“I was really able to develop myself even further from a communications profession perspective,” she said.
That in turn led her to get involved in a $100 million fundraising campaign to develop a winter sports institute at Calgary’s Olympic Park. “I did that for a couple of years and adopted phase one of the campaign, but then as these things go, I had a budding romance and my boyfriend really wanted to move to the Okanagan. So he made the move first and I eventually followed.”
Cobb-Reeves got married in 2014 and she says they have no regrets about the move to the Okanagan, calling it an “amazing experience.”
“There are so many options readily available to get out and enjoy life and be active. When it comes to work/life balance, I like what the Okanagan has to offer. It’s very important when you work in a creative role and all the pressure elements that go along with that not to find yourself in that A type atmosphere all the time, to realize the importance of serenity and relaxation.
“I’m an early starter when it comes to my job, but the evenings and weekends are very important as a chance to wind down and take advantage of what the Okanagan lifestyle has to offer.”
While trucks and tires are not an obvious comfort zone for Cobb-Reeves, she says communications needs are similar regardless of what company or industry you represent, and her extensive experience in her career has enabled her to build up the skills to make those client transitions.
“Part of my job is dealing with the media and I love dealing with journalists. It’s so important to understand when you are pitching ideas for them to write stories about you understand their needs, what audience they are trying to reach and how you can localize your message,” she said.
“Understanding what is happening in today’s increasingly fragmented media world is crucial from a corporate communications perspective.”
As the current president of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, Cobb-Reeves said she has enjoyed working with local businesses, listening to their concerns and offering her insights on how the community can economically move forward, which included her role as a member of a Vernon sub-committee on economic development.
“The work of the sub-committee was in part to help develop a new branding for Vernon moving forward, identifying what Vernon’s needs are and helping the community’s networking and advocacy efforts for economic growth,” she said.
She feels Vernon’s future looks bright, with new development on the upswing in the business community development. “You can feel it and see it, things are happening in Vernon and it’s really encouraging to see. There is lots happening here as we move into the future and I look forward to being a part of it. Vernon is a thriving community and I love living here.”