As early as elementary school, Colleen Hanley said she wanted to work in PR even though she had no idea what it was.
Now she knows a lot more as an experienced graduate of MSU's College of Communication Arts and Sciences. As the newly appointed Vice President of Communications and Investor Relations for Federal-Mogul Powertrain, Hanley possesses an exceptional understanding of public relations strategy and leadership, and exercises her public relations skills on national and international fronts to customers in business and industry.
"I'm very fortunate to love this kind of work and to love what I do," Hanley said. "I love southeast Michigan, too, and can't see myself ever leaving."
While she's traveled worldwide and across the United States, Hanley makes her home not far from where she grew up in Taylor and Novi.
Her father died when she was in second grade and her mother took a job as a bookkeeper for a public relations firm in downtown Detroit. Since her mother worked occasional weekends, Hanley and her sister would tag along, spending Saturday afternoons "playing office" in the Penobscot Building – a 1928 Art Deco office tower in the heart of the city's financial district.
"We would type on the IBM Selectrics and call each other on the phone and pretend to do things," Hanley said. "I knew my mother worked for a PR company and I thought it was all so cool, even though I didn't really know what they did."
That exposure to the world of PR shaped Hanley's career choice and influenced her decision to attend MSU. She had heard of MSU's strong reputation in the communication professions, and set her sights on pursuing a bachelor's in Communication as well as a master's degree in Advertising and Public Relations.
While at MSU, Hanley interned with a local theater and gained real-word experience writing press releases and marketing materials. She also volunteered for several campus associations doing PR and promotions.
"Those experiences were invaluable and complemented my academics," Hanley said. "I was exposed to some exceptional thinking and brilliant intellectual conversations. I came out well-rounded with a greater appreciation for the world and the value of education."
Hanley graduated with her master's in 1991 with thoughts of packing her bags and moving to New York City but decided to pursue opportunities in her hometown. She's worked more than 25 years in southeast Michigan as an integrated marketing communications professional and has held positions at Nederman, Hewlett-Packard, EDS, Meritor, CareTech Solutions, TRW Automotive and now with Federal-Mogul Powertrain.
As a member of International Association of Business Communicators Detroit since 1992, Hanley has served as the association's president, and on various leadership and executive boards. The association recently recognized Hanley's achievements by naming her IABC/Detroit Communicator of the Year in 2013.
"Most every single role I've been in has had critical moments that drove significant change," Hanley said. "While I didn't necessarily go into this career seeking that out, I relish the opportunity to support change through the communications process."