Alumni Profile: Debbie Ebalobo
Alumni Profile: Debbie Ebalobo
When Debbie Ebalobo (ABJ ’10) was a public relations student, she didn’t just go to class—she experienced college to the fullest.
She was on the national champion Bateman competition team through PRSA, involved with Multicultural Services & Programs and Grady Ambassadors and held numerous internships, just to name a few of her activities. She also earned her New Media Certificate.
Today, Ebalobo serves as director of the global external and financial communications team at The Coca-Cola Company. In her position, she is responsible for strategic direction and communications on matters of public policy and reputational risk. By directly managing the communication for issues and incidents as well as working with colleagues across globe in a variety of functions, Ebalobo promotes and protects the image and reputation of The Coca-Cola Company worldwide. Ebalobo is also spokesperson with external media and counsels company leaders on strategic media interviews.
Ebalobo took a few minutes over the summer to answer some questions about her experiences.
Grady College: What experience(s) during your time at Grady College had the biggest influence on where you are today?
Debbie Ebalobo: While I was at the University of Georgia, it was a whole new world. I am a first generation immigrant and the first in my family to graduate college. I came to UGA to study environmental sciences, but found a public relations major aligned with my curiosity and love of writing.
In college I was deeply involved in diversity initiatives and had a myriad of internships.
By the time I graduated, I had completed eight internships, served as president of the largest student organization in the Grady College: the Public Relations Student Society of America, became a resident assistant (RA) in the Myers community, was a board member of Delta Phi Lambda sorority, the only Asian-interest sorority at UGA and served as the president of the Asian American Student Association and the Filipino Student Association.
I was also awarded the Yarbrough-Grady Fellowship which is a semester long position that working with the Grady College external relations team to help strategize public relations initiatives and create content for the college’s website and social media channels.
These experiences accelerated my growth as a communicator and cultivated my passion for diversity and education.
GC: What mentors have you had and how have they helped you?
DE: Mentors have and continue to be an important part of my career. My PR research professor Dr. Kaye Sweetser became a mentor early in my career. Dr. Sweetser’s class was known to be difficult by the student body but she challenged her students. This energized me. She became one of the first female mentors. She was vocal, assertive and unapologetic.
Dr. Sweetser and the handful of sponsors and mentors I have continue to guide me when I’m navigating forks in the road during my career.
Dr. Sweetser now teaches public relations in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.
GC: What accomplishments are you most proud of?
DE: The accomplishment I’m most proud of (even today) is earning a college degree from The University of Georgia. It catapulted my ability to escape poverty, make a difference in my community and illuminated my passions for diversity and communication.
GC: What motivates you?
DE: Two things are at the core of what motivates me – visibility and curiosity.
I’m a mixed-Asian immigrant who is gay. This identity has presented unique challenges in my career journey but it’s also energized my passion for diversity–to do more, help more and be more visible in my industry and company. I still yearn for diverse role models who have “made it” and though this group is growing, I know up and coming students need more. In my journey, seeing different types of people from marginalized communities succeeding injected me with hope.
Additionally, learning motivates me. I’m a voracious reader across a cross-section of topics from AI to human rights to sustainability. I strive to understand perspectives and learn about topics I know nothing about. This curiosity has motivated me to be a better listener which is a critical skill in any field.
GC: What advice do you have for today’s Grady College students?
DE: Don’t forget to fuel the flame of your curiosity.
College is about learning even if the topics are unrelated. If you’re interested about plants – take a class about plants. If you’re interested in rowing – join crew. This exploration will help you to mine stories that haven’t been told and in ways that are novel and different. It will accelerate finding the answer to the question – why?
GC: Let’s end with a few just-for-fun questions: what are your favorite podcasts?
DE: There are several:
- The Unmistakable Creative
- Harvard Business Review: Women at Work
- Hidden Brain
- The Accidental Creative
GC: What was your favorite non-academic pastime when you were at UGA?
DE: As a student leader, I was always hanging out at the Multicultural Services and Programs building interfacing with other diverse leaders from other organizations.
Editors Note: If you or a graduate you know would like to be part of our regular Alumni Profile series, please email Sarah Freeman (FreemanS@uga.edu) with details.