David’s favorite line is “There’s something special about Zapwater.” And I knew right away what that “something special” was after I joined – it’s the team, the team dynamic and the investments Zapwater makes to continues to position the company as the go to agency of Chicago and the Midwest. Our award-winning team has clinched 16 potential industry awards this year (including two Gold SABRE Awards and a Best of Show/Grand Prize Bulldog Reporter), 19 in 2012 and a potential total of 50 since 2008. One of my key roles at Zapwater is managing internal staff development, or basically, making sure we’re maintaining a collaborative, cohesive and productive (again, award-winning) team and truly engaging in the professional development of our employees. Specifically, as we continue to invest in human capital and the growth of our employees, I’ve been tasked with bringing David’s vision of “ZapU” – an ongoing professional development and team building program – to life.

David introducing ZapU Key Note Speaker 7X NCAA Winning Coach, Northwestern’s Kelly Amonte Hiller

With the onboarding of four new staff members in the past few months (a quarter of our total staff), we knew how important it was to ensure we had a solid Team Charter or set of principles in place to guide our business approach. So we launched ZapU in March with an inaugural facilitator-lead workshop at Catalyst Ranch, a multi-dimensional, off-the-wall creative landscape, with the goal to take our staff out of the office bubble and really focus on the team and team dynamic. The team-building experience was then extended through dinner with an Iron Chef-type cooking competition at The Chopping Block.

The Zapwater team at Chopping Block

We’ll round out ZapU 2013 with two additional offsite retreats this year, including a potential ropes course in the fall. Throughout the curriculum, our staff will interact and form relationships with industry leaders, be immersed in business education and nurture our innate leadership skills to be the best PR practitioners we can be.

I am honored to play an important role in continuing to make Zapwater truly “something special.”

Alana Horinko Vice President