Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Degree: Print Journalism
Year of graduation: 2006
Print journalism grad Ryan Kennery works with words for a living, but you won’t see his name on most of the things he’s written throughout his career. As the former adviser to the mayor of Ottawa and through his current work in the private sector as a senior producer at a communications firm, Kennery is used to making sure that other people’s voices are heard.
“In politics, your job is to secure good (media) coverage — to protect the reputation of the individual and office,” he says. “It’s very much behind the scenes, writing speeches that you’re not delivering personally, but understanding the voice of the person who is.”
Kennery’s love of political discourse can be traced back to his time at Sheridan, where he dove into elected positions from class representative to president of the Sheridan Student Union at Trafalgar campus. “Being able to run for office and debate issues was eye-opening, and led me towards the public relations side of communications,” he says. “I grew up very quickly because of my experience with the student union.”
After graduating from Sheridan in 2006, Kennery continued to explore communications and a growing game-changer: social media. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Communications at the University of Ottawa, he remained to finish a Master’s thesis on how government leverages social media during times of crisis. Kennery used that knowledge as a communications coordinator for the City of Ottawa, working on campaign strategies and dealing with crises such as the H1N1 flu outbreak.
When Ottawa mayor Jim Watson needed a press secretary in 2012, Kennery jumped at the chance. Later, after helping run the mayor’s successful re-election campaign in 2014, Kennery stayed on as director of communications and operations, working on some of the city’s larger projects, such as construction of the city’s light rail system. Kennery thrived on the job’s fast-paced nature and the quick-thinking requirements of being the mayor’s public face. “I had someone come to me every 10 minutes asking ‘what would the mayor think about this?’, so it was a matter of having good judgement and relying on instinct to know the right way forward,” he says.
Now, Kennery has launched himself into another challenge: the private sector. “At city hall, I was a good issues manager and problem solver. Now, I want to become a better manager of people and a leader, and to see projects through to completion and not simply view it from 30,000 feet,” he says. Joining MediaStyle earlier this summer, Kennery gets to bring his skills in crafting a compelling message to a whole new audience, while keeping his desire to effect change through communication. “I’ve gone from looking at Twitter all day to see what’s going right or wrong to instead managing the details,” he says. “I feel as though you can either sit on the sidelines or directly involve yourself in something. If you’re able to be involved in issues and debates at a substantive level, it provides you with perspective on life and on the world.”
Learn more about Sheridan’s Journalism program.