Guest post from Katharine Pierce CMP, Director of Professional Development for IABC Canberra.

When I took on the role of Professional Development Director for IABC Canberra this year, I wanted to find fun, challenging opportunities for our members to help them develop their communications careers, especially in the area of strategic advice.

This area is one communication professionals don’t often get the opportunity to ‘practice’. Exercises to help build confidence engaging with executive leadership, developing advisory skills, or responding in situations of organisational crisis are often limited to very specific scenarios, like a natural disaster.

This is where Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders bridges the gap between theory and practice, by using role-play to navigate a series of increasingly complex – and diverse – scenarios to make strategic decisions for the benefit of a large, fictional multi-national organisation called Globocorp.

“Board game on steroids”

In July IABC Canberra was fortunate enough to host a Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders workshop facilitated by Australia’s leading Alignment Strategist Zora Artis GAICD, SCMP, FAMI, CMP. Zora is the Australia lead for Archetypical, the company behind Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders.

Fellow IABC Canberra board members who had previously done the workshop described their experience as a “board game on steroids” and, much like the original classic, your goal is to move through the board avoiding the snakes and hoping you land on one of those fortuitous ladders.

Instead of dice you are presented with a series of scenarios you respond to in the role of Carmen Spinoza, Communications Director of Globocorp. Your answers to the scenarios determine how you move forward in the game.

“Working as a team”

My team for the workshop was made up of communication professionals from the public and professional sector which meant discussions related to each scenario were debated and considered through a number of diverse lenses.

I found it interesting to see the differences in decision rationales made by colleagues in the public sector. Recognising these distinctions, Zora created a workshop specifically for those who work in Government communications.

“Watch out for those snakes”

Throughout the game you are thrown curve balls in the form of wild cards that can influence the final results. You may also make a decision that sees you move forward but ultimately end up falling backwards because you landed on a pesky snake. The decisions, and their subsequent results, also capture the nuanced details of interpersonal relationships through the awarding, and deduction, of ‘influence points’.

One memorable result was when we lost influence points with a colleague due to their jealousy of our success – an unfortunate, yet occasionally realistic, scenario than can occur in the workplace.

“Communications is a critical business function”

Working as Carmen you not only have to make strategic decisions in response to different scenarios but consider the way you show leadership through your relationship with the CEO and other members of the company c-suite.

The workshop gave me an insight into a number of advisory styles and how I can use them to feel confident in the decisions and advice I give to senior executive. It also tested my ability to consensus-build under pressure, give insights into my own behaviour and cement how important it is for communications to have a seat at the c-suite table.

To find out more about how you help your team improve their skills, get in touch with Zora direct: or +61 410 565625.

Katharine Pierce CMP is an award-winning strategic communicator with more than a decade of experience in digital and corporate communications, project management, stakeholder engagement, public relations and marketing.

She has a particular interest in the role growth hacking plays in the start-up sector and currently supports communications professionals in the Canberra region through her role as Director of Professional Development for IABC Canberra.

In addition to working in the government and education sectors, she spent many years volunteering for TEDx Canberra, pursuing her interest in supporting people to bring their passion and ideas to life on stage.