Hundreds have played Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders around the world – and we like to check in with people. In this instalment of our series of conversations, Carmen spoke to Kimberley Rose, Director of Strategic Communications at University of Florida Health in the United States.

“No talking at each other, but really collaborating and engaging. Under pressure I might add. The time-sensitive element of the game made it feel like real life.”

C: Hi Kim! Let’s start with telling our readers a little bit more about you and the organisation you work for.

K: Hi Carmen! Well, I’m the director for strategic communication at University of Florida Health. It’s an organisation that brings together higher education with first-class hospitals. In Florida we have two main campuses, six health colleges, nine research institutes and centres, nine hospitals and a host of physician medical practices and outpatient services, as well as affiliates statewide. So it’s a very, very big academic health system!

I’ve been with them for over 20 years. I was first hired by the corporate health care system and now we’re integrated with the university health system, so I joke that I work in a “corporademia” setting. This combined setting plus the fast pace of a hospital network makes my job very exciting. I love what I do. I’ve been lucky to evolve and reinvent myself over the years.

C: So what do you do now?

K: Today I lead a team that does strategic comms – internal and business communication, issues management, crisis and emergency response. In addition to supporting the hospitals through crisis – from responding to major mass casualty accidents to hurricanes -my team also has a lot of clients in the system, we develop and roll out together strategic comms plans and provide strategic comms counsel to execs and leaders.

C: Much like you, I also provide strategic communications counsel to senior executive team. In that line, how would you describe a successful strategic adviser?

K: I love talking about being an “intrapeneur”. I want my staff to always be entrepreneurial within our structure. We deliver what our clients need and we are always looking for ways to stay positive and creative and tackle challenges and have fun along the way. That was partly why your game, Carmen, resonated so well with me.

C: Tell me a bit more about your your experience of playing Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders?

K: I took part at the launch of the game in New Orleans in 2016. I was struck at how polished and professional it was. I remembered being a little daunted because I only knew two people at my table . But it turned out great. The game forced us to get to know each other and collaborate really quickly. It was remarkable how when you play, you get to hear other people’s perspectives and ideas for handling situations with a different approach than you would have taken. It was an incredible learning experience.

I also realised that, although part of a communication conference, the game was really about business. It was all about understanding what the ultimate goals and the needs of the audiences were. It got us to ask questions in a different way that in other sessions. No talking at each other, but really collaborating and engaging. Under pressure I might add. The time-sensitive element of the game made it feel like real life.

C: Did anything feel differently after playing the game?

K: It set the tone for my IABC World Conference experience. Because it was a about ideas and how you apply them, it helped me become a better listener and helped me build consensus.

During the game, I established relationships with people I didn’t know. At our table we had a very international group representing all different industries and backgrounds. The nature of the game helped us get to know each other and appreciate our professional expertise and how we’d actually apply our expertise. When playing, you need to show your strategic decision-making skills and knowledge. For example, when explaining why would they chose an option, they would illustrate with examples from their world. So it gave me insight to the kind of work they do in other industries.

Corporate Snakes and Ladders makes you put your elevator pitch into action.

C: What advice would you give any advice to future players?

K: You really need to participate and be unafraid to speak up and ask questions. You are going to learn quickly just how many ways there are to approach comms challenges, and that your usual way may not be the best. So, I’d say: “go with a really open mind and be prepared to be wrong, connect, shared ideas and go with a sense of fun!”.

C: Anything else you liked about the game?

K: I loved that at the end, we all bonded because we were intellectually connected and exhausted! It was like having run a marathon together. The competition angle worked really well. I don’t think there was even a prize, but we really wanted to win.

C: Thanks for your time Kim!

If you would like to learn more about working in health communication or reinventing your career in the same company, as Kim has done, you can reach her via LinkedIn.

And if you’d like to try the game: see if it is right for you.

If you’re an alumni and you’d like to be interviewed by Carmen, let us know here.