The Comms Mentoring Programme Batch Seven: Stories and Lessons From Our Mentees

The Seventh Batch of The Comms Mentoring Programme (CMP) was a memorable one for us at The Comms Avenue. With over 150 professionals across Africa joining us as Mentors and Mentees, we had a lot to learn from our largest batch yet. While we’re happy to share our stories about The CMP, we decided it would be much more rewarding to hear from the Mentees who took part in the programme. 


Christiana Olawumi

The first time I heard about The Comms Avenue, it was from my friend, Victoria Chukwuma, whom I admire and celebrate. I went on to join the community, and one day I came across the flyer for Batch Seven of the Comms Mentoring Programme.

Prior to that time, I was in a fix, I wanted more but I was clueless on how to maximise my potential and even how to get the more I wanted. I spoke to some of my friends and they kept insisting that there was more which was a validation that I wasn’t being delusional or asking for too much.

Based on Victoria’s testimony, I decided to apply for the Comms Mentoring Programme and see if I would get answers to the undefined questions in my heart. At some point, I was worried about getting selected because I wasn’t fully into Development Comms even though I had experience in that field, but I applied regardless. The worst that would happen would be to get a rejection, but I would be satisfied with the fact that I attempted to get in. I was also sceptical about getting matched with someone who didn’t have sufficient experience and expertise to help me out of my dilemma.

Then one beautiful day, I opened my email to find a “congratulations, you’ve been selected” email from The Comms Avenue, and that was how it all started.

I got matched with the amazing Lily Adimefe who did a great job mentoring me for the duration of the program. We had weekly meetings where I was allowed to bombard her with the questions in my head about career and personal development. For me, every one of our sessions left me introspecting and identifying things I could have done better and things I would do better as I journey. Lily was patient and kind enough to learn a bit about my journey which came in handy when she offered advice and recommendations.

I had to sacrifice my Saturday mornings for the workshops but they were worth it, with every professional bringing their A-game to the party and sharing their experiences and knowledge with all the mentees.

This programme helped me to see that regardless of what phase of my career I’m in, there’s someone out there who is either in it as well or already out of it. It also opened my eyes to see that sometimes, you don’t have it figured out completely and it’s okay not to, just keep going and deliver your best while you are at it.


Christine Cherono

Graduating from university is an exhilarating milestone, but the period that follows can be daunting.

As a fresh graduate eagerly awaiting employment, the barrage of rejection letters can be disheartening, often leading to weariness and self-doubt. I found myself in this very position, grappling with the frustration of unreturned applications and the creeping onset of impostor syndrome.

The value of mentorship in career growth is often underestimated or overlooked. Until recently, I had no idea such a resource existed. My epiphany came when I stumbled upon an advert for The Comms Mentoring programme (CMP) in a job group I frequented. Desperate for a breakthrough, I quickly applied and fervently hoped for acceptance.

The day I received the acceptance email felt like winning a visa lottery. I read it over and over, absorbing every detail about the program to ensure I missed nothing crucial. The excitement and anticipation were palpable as I embarked on this new journey.
My assigned mentor was Macharia Wamugo, the group editorial director of Cape Media. This is one of the many strengths of the CMP: pairing mentees with seasoned professionals who would otherwise seem out of reach. Each mentor is a specialist in the area the mentee wishes to develop, ensuring tailored and impactful guidance.

Under Macharia’s mentorship, I gained invaluable insights into Media Relations. His advice to seek experience at a PR agency set me on a proactive path, and I began my search with new strength. Beyond immediate job search strategies, he also helped me craft a comprehensive career plan, which is another reason the CMP stands out.

The weekly workshops led by renowned professionals were another highlight. These sessions not only imparted industry knowledge but also fostered a sense of accountability. The culmination of the programme involved creating a detailed career plan with SMART goals, solidifying the lessons learned and providing a clear roadmap for the future.

A heartfelt thank you to The Comms Avenue for your unwavering commitment to nurturing and uniting communication practitioners across Africa. Your efforts have made a significant impact on many, including myself.


Confidence Awak

I started out this year with the intention of getting better acquainted with more in-depth knowledge in my field of work. Following The Comms Avenue’s programmes was my strategy for achieving this goal.

As a Communications professional, it is not every day you get access to such a wealth of information and experience without paying for it. So you can imagine my surprise when, during the last session of the Strategic Communications Course, Adedoyin Jaiyesimi mentioned that the call for applications for the mentorship programme would go out soon.

At first, I was quite sceptical about how much value I’d really get from a free mentorship programme without having a personal relationship or connection to the mentor. The programme cleared my doubts 100%. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

I was paired with Nicholas Emane, who currently works and resides in Rwanda. Initially, I was worried about his understanding of the Nigerian Communications ecosystem and how much I could learn from him. I can assure you, the only thing we had to work around was the timing for meetings.

My mentor not only understood me, but he also spoke my language and guided me through navigating several questions and worries I had. Nicholas covered important topics like creating a communications strategy, budgeting, stakeholder management, creating a personal brand and storytelling, time management, creating a portfolio, public speaking, and much more.

One major theme that ran through all our personal mentoring sessions was applying evidence-based Communication. This means having a structured flow of information and documentation that shows the data backing up your strategy/ideas, which then influences the tactics you choose to implement.

All in all, it was an enlightening and wholesome experience. From the private mentoring sessions to the weekly sessions with all the mentees, where we had several seasoned communications professionals come in to share their experiences, successes, and insights with us. We gleaned from their stories ways to navigate and grow in our careers. The Comms Mentoring Programme is a fantastic opportunity to learn from experienced mentors, gain valuable insights, and advance your career.


Joshua Muthui Musee

I have to admit that I always anticipated to be a beneficiary of this program that brings together young professionals from all over Africa and when my lecturer Juliet Odour sent the link to the application, I didn’t hesitate. Luckily, I was selected and together with a team of great communication practitioners, we embarked on a journey.

I am a graduate of Communications and Public Relations from Maasai Mara University, currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. Besides communication and Public Relations, I am a writing and performing poet, published author and a podcaster all these have been made possible by the honing of Communication skills.

I have learnt strategic communication, events management, corporate branding and online and social media communication. It is fulfilling to finally be able to communicate effectively in the digital space, I am grateful to my mentor Ayokunle Onifade, General manager, New Cruse 92.7 FM.

He has been inspirational during the mentorship program, all the tasks given and the challenges posed as well, have contributed to the success of my venture in online and social media communication.

I am and will be forever grateful to the Comms Mentoring Programme and specifically Damilola and Ayokunle for giving me a chance to learn and hone the skills I learnt while on campus. I believe this opportunity has given me an advantage in the job market. I now have more knowledge and practically, I understand what Communications is and how to communicate effectively in different organisational set-ups including corporate, Public Relations, work places, media and publics.

The tasks, challenges and the models used in the mentoring programme have greatly contributed to the success. The tasks given challenged me to read more, practise and research more on communication. My mentor has been influential and helped me when the challenges became a little bit tough for me. I am grateful.


Francisca Onarinde

My mentor, Mr. Kevin Johnson-Azuara, has been exceptionally intentional with our sessions, consistently keeping me on my toes and pushing me to grow.

Our mentorship journey began with an in-depth discussion about my career plan, my experiences thus far and the beauty of finding purpose. This initial meeting laid the foundation for our subsequent sessions, setting clear goals and expectations.

During our second meeting, we delved into the lessons we can learn from movies and books, emphasizing how a communications professional’s role is integral to an organization. Mr. Kevin highlighted that supporting all departmental communications is the best form of office politics. He reviewed my CV and suggested I research the Harvard Business School template for CVs and resumes, encouraging me to refine my portfolio.

Our third meeting focused on the importance of associations and professional qualifications. Mr. Kevin provided further feedback on my CV and portfolio, helping me enhance these critical documents. His guidance has made me more intentional about building my personal brand, portfolio, and CV.

Throughout our sessions, Mr. Kevin emphasized the importance of travel, reading, and watching historical movies to ignite our imagination and inspiration as storytellers. He shared that many of our sessions and resources were based on sports, explaining how sports unify people and the power of storytelling in sports advertising.

On my career plan document, Mr. Kevin advised me to create a section to break my goals into actionable steps for accountability. This practical advice has been invaluable in helping me stay focused and motivated.

We wrapped up the CMP with a visit to Mr. Kevin Johnson-Azuara, the Chief Marketing Officer at Nigerdock. This final meeting was a culmination of all the knowledge, lessons, and resources he had shared during our sessions. I also had the pleasure of meeting his amazing team, who generously shared insights into their work.


Oluwakemi Olusina

For someone who transitioned from the field of Audit and Assurance to Corporate Communications, The Comms Mentoring Programme was an answered prayer. I began my career in Banking, starting in Operations and then to Audit. Throughout this time, I took deliberate steps to transition into the Communications field, but it was quite a challenge until recently.

Entering Corporate Communications, I quickly realised it was far more complex than I had anticipated. I knew I needed all the help I could get to succeed. A friend who had completed the Comms Mentoring Programme recommended it to me. She encouraged me to follow The Comms Avenue on social media and keep an eye out for the next batch. I did it diligently, with post notifications turned on—I didn’t want to miss out.

The morning I received the acceptance email, it felt like getting a new job offer with a lucrative package and benefits. I was elated, knowing this was the start of an incredible mentoring experience. My excitement grew when I was paired with my mentor, Elsie Ofulue, Vice President – Head of EMEA Internal Communications for Technology at Morgan Stanley. It felt like a match made in heaven. As a young Internal Communications Specialist, walking this mentoring path with such a renowned expert made me eager for the programme.

At the start of the programme, I had three goals: to improve my skills in Strategic Communications, Event Planning, and Leadership Development. Elsie reached out to me first on LinkedIn, demonstrating remarkable humility.

The CMP Career Plan provided clarity on my career path. I honed the skills I aimed to develop and found answers to my career-related questions in every workshop and meeting with my mentor. Ultimately, the programme helped me measure my progress and sharpen my abilities in key areas.


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