My mother told me that my first spoken word was ‘why?’
I never tire of asking it.
My career has allowed me to continue asking this small, simple question across a range of different jobs. It has taken me across the world and given me the license to be professionally curious in a range of contexts.
A first degree in Geography, and Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism was followed by an internship on the science pages of The Economist Newspaper. Small position: big learning curve. I came away wondering why the organisations I had approached for science and – potentially – development stories, had been unable or unwilling, to communicate.
In the late 1980s, I ‘switched sides’, and worked with an international NGO with seven country offices, helping them to communicate their messages more effectively. I stayed nine years, along the way managing an international documentation system, guarding the organisational brand, and centralising the production of information materials, ending up on secondment to the Zimbabwe office. There, much of my time was spent ensuring that development programmes communicated effectively with all of their different stakeholders.
I set up CommsConsult in Zimbabwe in 1995, with my colleague Farai Samhungu. Our mission statement was ‘to communicate clearly in a world full of noise’, and we took the message to clients that included the UN, NGOs and community groups. We wanted to learn how to make communications really work for development: not as an ‘add-on’ to development programmes, but as a fundamental strategic instrument.
Since then I have worked for numerous bilateral, multilateral, diaspora, educational and government organisations. My full CV records them in more detail but highlights include a recent three-year stint as consultant Communications Advisor in the Department for International Development’s Research Department; Advocacy Trainer for UNIFEM’s Ending Violence against Women campaigns; and PR Lecturer for University College Falmouth.
I love my profession. I am passionate about the power of communications to empower both people and processes to work better, smarter, and more effectively to bring about desired results.