Beam didn’t plan for this – but it worked out anyway

Carol Beam poses in front of the Communcations and Marketing department's goal board. Photo credit: Melanie Lennon

Many people spend ages striving towards an enjoyable career. This often involves years of post-secondary school and various jobs within the preferred field of work.

But for 51-year-old Carol Beam, everything sort of fell into place.

Although Beam feels extremely lucky to be the associate vice-president of communications and marketing at Durham College (DC), she says it wasn’t something she planned.

“Did I know that I would eventually land here doing this? No,” she laughs. “It just kind of evolved.”

She received her education at the same place she works now. Born and raised in Oshawa, Ont., she decided DC would be the closest, most convenient school to attend.

Beam chose to pursue an area which made her feel comfortable. She says it took her a while to establish exactly what that area was, but never felt pressured into deciding within a certain timeframe.

“I tried business because I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to go with my career,” Beam explains. “Then I went into the more communications, public relations, something that more aligned with my personality.”

After graduating from DC in 1991, Beam immediately began working. She completed her placement in the Communications and Marketing department at the college and was hired on as a contract worker afterwards.

Beam says this led to a full-time job as a support staff member, ascending through a number of jobs to her current role as associate vice president – all from being a student.

“I’ve been very, very fortunate.”

Beam has worked with numerous people after spending almost three decades in the Communications and Marketing department. Today, she praises the team of about 20 people at her side.

“The people that work for me are great,” she grins. “They are really excellent at what they do.”

Traci Ellis, DC’s marketing manager, is one of the many people who work alongside Beam. She says their time together has been memorable.

“I would say [she] and I have developed a relationship over the past 20 some odd years,” says Ellis. “Carol has kind of led and mentored me through my career…I would say that that’s primary to where I’m at today.”

Beam says the team has big plans for the college. The colourful wall behind her, complete with written goals and quotes like “you can see clearly when you stay above the clouds,” puts her ambitious nature on display.

“I like the fact that I get to influence and impact change,” she says.

Beam starts her days early in the morning and completes an endless number of tasks throughout the week. This is why she says it’s necessary to make time for herself as well.

“I really advocate for work-life balance. I think if you know what you’re doing and you have a good team…then you can do your job and do it well and effectively, and then you go home.”

Outside of work, she spends a lot of time at home with her puppy and her two kids, Darcy and Jack.

“I love being there for my kids even though they’re older, like my daughter goes to Durham [College] and my son’s in Grade 12. But I still very much love [that] we’re very close,” Beam smiles.

Although her days are clearly structured, there’s still a lot happening that remains unplanned.

“You just show up for your life,” she shrugs. “Whatever that may be.”