This new series will feature career advice from IPR ELEVATE Members. IPR ELEVATE is a diverse and select membership community of high-performing innovators and catalysts for growth, change, and advancement who support the mission and insights-focused work of IPR.
Dr. Juan (pronounced as “Dren”) Meng is the Head of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. She is an associate professor of public relations. Her research specialization includes public relations leadership, leadership development, diversity and leadership in PR, and global communication. Dr. Meng is the founder and director of UGA‘s Go Global Choose China program. She also founded Grady College’s Cooperative Education 3+1+1 programs with Shanghai Normal University and Shanghai International Studies University. Meng has published more than 75 refereed journal articles, scholarly book chapters and research reports on leadership-related topics. She is the co-author or the co-editor of several scholarly books. She has present at various panels, workshops, webinars, and symposiums and won different research awards nationally and internationally. Meng serves on the national advisory board for the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, PR Daily at Ragan’s Communications, and IPR ELEVATE. She has been the lead researcher on several signature research projects, including the largest global study of PR leadership, Millennial Communication Professionals in the Workplace, the biennial Report Card on PR Leaders, the biennial North American Communication Monitor, and Women and Leadership in PR. She served as the Research Vice Chair on the executive committee of the Educators Academy at Public Relations Society of America in 2022. She is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society since 2019.
When you started in the industry, what steps did you take (or what things did you do) to be successful?
One of the very important things I did, and I feel I benefit significantly from, was building resilience. You do this by focusing on the tasks you are good at or you believe you can commit your best to be good at. My research expertise centers on leadership have evolved around leadership excellence over the years through various research projects and initiatives. One key note I wrote to myself is “leadership excellence requires integrity. Be intentional about integrity.”
What advice do you have for someone new to the industry?
Keep learning and practicing those foundational skills in communication even though you may have graduated with a communication or public relations degree. The quality and consistency of your communication will help you build your compelling personal narrative in any professional communication setting.
Actively, and proactively, identify opportunities, both within your own organization and beyond your workplace, to be engaged in initiatives that interest you and make you feel you are learning, gaining and growing. Active engagement will not only help you gain visibility and expand your networks in formal or informal leadership roles, it can also invite you to other career opportunities when you are intentional about career or leadership development through lifelong learning.
What is the most helpful information you’ve learned in your career?
Find the role model(s) and mentor(s) you aspire to be. Then grow yourself and be a mentor to inspire the next generation. When you have been supported by your mentors for your work, you carry the responsibility to be the advocate to help others do the same.