Katie Gray – PR Supervisor, Toronto Zoo

We have dreamed about featuring someone who works at The Toronto Zoo in Her Career since…well, since the beginning of She Does The City. And it turns out, dreams come true! GONG! Meet Toronto Zoo PR Supervisor Katie Gray. By day, she shares her love of animals by keeping the public updated on all things zoo, and by night, she’s the captain of the Zoo’s Glee Club. That’s right, as if her job wasn’t already cool enough, she’s heading up The Zooper Stars, The Toronto Zoo’s entry into the Canada Sings glee competition, premiering August 10th at 9 pm on Global. Uh, trade lives please? 

What does a typical Thursday look like for you, starting from when you wake up – to heading to bed?

I start my day waking up to my wonderful husband and my puppy (a large puppy… a one year old Bernese Mountain Dog, usually asleep on my feet!).  I live pretty close to work, so it only takes about 10 minutes typically to drive to my beautiful office at the Toronto Zoo (well my office isn’t very beautiful, but the setting of my office certainly is!).  Then, I really never know what my day will be like…that is one of the things I like most about my job (and also one of the most challenging parts!) I might come into work with one plan and then I have a completely different day than expected.  Typically I am involved in a number of meetings with my team, other departments and outside partners/sponsors planning our extensive event schedule, Overseeing staff project management for filming, events, corporate events, media, tours and much more.  Recently my team planned and executed the VIP launch event for the new penguin exhibit.  I supervise three full time staff and in the summer I have another six staff.  They are a great team and I really enjoy working with them.  Then I go home, figure out dinner with my husband, take my dog for a walk, sometimes watch a movie or our favourite shows, and usually try to get a good night rest to keep up with my hectic day!

What was your first job out of school?

My first job out of school was here at the Zoo – I had been working at the Zoo during the summers while at University and I found a great entry level office job that happened to be right next to the public relations department.  I had been going to school for Zoology initially, but realized while working the summer jobs that I was not cut out to be a Zoo Keeper (they are extremely patient, focused, dedicated, and can spend a lot of time just with the animals they are taking care of, and I just knew that I would not be right for that job).  So luckily when I found the PR department I discovered a new career path I had never really considered and as it turned out, it was perfect for me!  I got to share my passion for animals and conservation with the public by planning events, promoting the Zoo… all kinds of things that I was very well suited for! 

What are the 3 skills you require most to do your job well?

Multi-tasking, Communication and Time Management.

What do you love most about your career?

I love that every day is different and that I am constantly being challenged to do new things, more things and just always improving myself, my team and our department. 

Do you have any warnings?

Yes – learn how to work well with different types of people.  You are definitely going to encounter a broad range of personality types in any field and job/career, and you will be much more productive and find better ways to work with people if you can accept that everyone is different and everyone communicates differently. 

If you could try a different career on for a year, what would it be? 

I would love to be a wedding planner.  In a lot of ways it is very similar to what I do now with the event planning, but I absolutely love weddings, and have been to so many weddings that I would really enjoy working with brides (and grooms) to plan one of the most exciting days of their lives!  Either that or I would take the penguin Zoo Keeper job (they are my favourite animal… now maybe if the Toronto Zoo had penguins back when I was studying Zoology I might have reconsidered my career path!)

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