Every year comes with unique experiences, opportunities and challenges and its important to be prepared for whatever may come our way in our professional journeys. We reached out to five senior Communications professionals to share their thoughts on how to win professionally in 2024.
These seasoned professionals, Sola Abulu, Principal Consultant, Sola Abulu & Associates (SA&A); Cyrille Djami, Founder and Manager, CommsOfAfrica; Seynabou Dia Sall, Founder and CEO, Global Mind Consulting; Elsie Ofulue, Vice President – Head of EMEA Internal Communications, Morgan Stanley UK; and Adeola Adejokun, Head of Communication, First City Monument Bank, had a lot of wisdom to share on how best to embrace the world of Communications in 2024.
Elsie Ofulue, Vice President – Head of EMEA Internal Communications, Morgan Stanley UK
My thoughts on hitting the ground running in the new year lie in a three-part mindset bucket which I learnt a while ago: Listening, Planning then Refining.
1. Listening: Gathering data, feedback, assumptions, mapping channels and stakeholders
2. Planning: Taking stock of the things you need to stop, start, and continue whilst focusing on your skills and structure
3. Refining: Preparing to present findings back to the business and stakeholders, focusing on your personal branding and of course prioritising your next steps.
Cyrille Djami, Founder and Manager, CommsOfAfrica
As we start this new year, I’m not here to throw clichés your way but to share some real talk from one comrade to another. This isn’t your typical career advice; it’s more like a chat over coffee (or your beverage of choice) about how we can make the most of the wild ride ahead.
Let’s kick it off with a dance metaphor because, well, life and communication are a lot like dancing. Instead of shying away from the crazy choreography of change, let’s embrace it. Our field is like a never-ending dance floor, and innovation is the DJ. So, let’s not just keep up, let’s groove to the beat of change.
Now, about data – it’s not just numbers on a screen; it’s a story waiting to be told. Dive into it like you’re unravelling a mystery novel. It’s not just about stats; it’s about the tales hidden in the analytics. After all, we’re storytellers, not statisticians.
Crafting your personal brand is like curating the ultimate playlist. Share your story, quirks and all. Authenticity isn’t a buzzword; it’s your backstage pass to connecting with your audience on a personal level. It’s not just about conveying a message; it’s about being the Rockstar of your narrative.
And can we talk about cultures? It’s not just about crossing borders; it’s about creating a global mixtape. Get to know the beats of different cultures because our communication is the soundtrack that should resonate universally.
Resilience is our backstage pass to the rollercoaster that is our career. Smile through the setbacks; they’re just plot twists in the epic novel of your professional life. And in this journey, relationships are your roadies. They matter within your team, with clients, and in the industry. It’s not just about who you know; it’s about who’s got your back.
Keep that curious spirit alive, my friend. Attend that quirky workshop, and read that offbeat book – our field is an adventure, and the best stories come from the most unexpected places.
Now, Crisis Management – it’s not just about having a plan; it’s about being the calm amidst the storm. Lead with the grace of a salsa dancer, not the rigidity of a robot. It’s not just about managing a crisis; it’s about being the reassuring voice in the chaos.
Breakdown those silos like you’re tearing down the walls of a mosh pit. Collaboration isn’t just a fancy term; it’s the ultimate jam session across departments. It’s not just about your messages; it’s about the entire orchestra working in harmony.
Lastly, impact isn’t measured in sterile metrics; it’s measured in the stories you collect along the way. Be purposeful in your communication, and let your message be a melody that lingers. It’s not just about proving your worth; it’s about composing a symphony that echoes through time.
May your communication be as authentic as an old vinyl record and as impactful as a chart-topping hit.
Sola Abulu, Principal Consultant, Sola Abulu & Associates (SA&A)
I would advise communications professionals to do an honest self-assessment of where they are as against where they would like to be and draw up a set of targets to close the gap. I would advise that we draw up these targets based on the skills and experiences we would like to acquire this year.
And by experiences, I do not mean general work experience in a specified role or job title. But specifically naming the type of experiences you would like to have, regardless of the role that enables it. E.g. I would like to lead a major Communications project in 2024 from start to finish with positive results. Then you begin to explore the opportunities to get this specific experience either in your paid employment or via volunteering work and work towards delivering that.
I find that many of us are so focused on clocking the hours in our current role, that we do not take the time to ensure we are simultaneously getting a broad range of experiences that prepare us for our next role and keep us competitive well into the future. Or that even broadens our thinking to excel in our current role or sharpens our practice and expertise level beyond what the job on its own could deliver.
Experience is important but getting the right experiences within (and outside the scope of) that experience may be of much greater value. It could enable you to learn and grow much faster and with greater breadth and depth. Do not allow your personal growth and development to be limited by the constraints of your current job or professional role. Enlarge your coasts in 2024.
Adeola Adejokun, Head of Communication, First City Monument Bank
As technology rapidly transforms the world, Corporate Communications faces opportunities and significant challenges caused by the revolutionary effect of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is no longer a choice but a must-have for those aiming to excel in today’s very techy Business Communication landscape.
To thrive in 2024 and beyond, an era in which AI will dominate, Communications professionals must create a personalised Artificial Intelligence learning plan to position themselves and their organisations for success.
Here are some simple guidelines to shape these plans:
- Know AI’s impact on your organisation: Understand how AI influences your organisation and sector and where it will make a real difference. This understanding will guide you in aligning your AI learning plan with the broader organisational goals.
- Recognise AI’s impact on Corporate Communications: Acknowledge the profound influence of AI on Communications. Stay ahead by embracing AI-driven trends and tools that reshape how we connect and convey messages. Develop a plan to incorporate these advancements into your communications strategies, ensuring relevance and innovation.
- Boost personal productivity with AI: Use AI to enhance your productivity and amplify impact. Explore tools that automate repetitive tasks, streamline workflows, and increase efficiency. Craft a plan that integrates these tools into your daily routine, empowering you to achieve more with precision and finesse.
- Use AI to understand your organisation better: Explore analytics tools providing actionable insights into organisational behaviour. By using AI-driven analyses, contribute more strategically, aligning your communication efforts with the organisation’s broader goals and nuances.
By adopting these straightforward approaches, Communications professionals can empower themselves to thrive in the AI-driven Business Communication landscape of 2024 and beyond.
Seynabou Dia Sall, Founder and CEO, Global Mind Consulting
The world is undergoing constant and permanent changes, impacting all ecosystems, including the communications industry. To thrive in this dynamic environment, adaptability is paramount. Daily innovations are essential to address emerging challenges and stay ahead in a landscape where competition demands out-of-the-box insights.
Digitalisation is transforming economic landscapes, leading to an unprecedented diversification of networks and niches. In navigating these changes, collaborative tactics, such as co-creation and coordination between public and private sectors, become crucial. It’s through such strategies that we can nurture the genuine emergence of countries.
Within this evolving scenario, the Communications industry stands as a pivotal scheme, offering great opportunities to elevate and brand global economic endeavours. Communications strategies must be rooted in a deep understanding of issues, stakes, and opportunities. Tailored solutions, customised to specific contexts, are key to driving performance and crafting narratives that resonate.
Over the past decade, Global Mind Consulting has undertaken missions to discover genuine and inspiring speeches, addressing positioning issues for institutions, countries, and private partners.
As professionals, our focus in the new year should be on adapting our services to our clients’ evolving needs. By adopting a customer-centric approach, we can enhance their experience, becoming a continuous source of inspiration and motivation. Regularly updating customer loyalty strategies ensures that clients perceive their reputation growing every day.
Let’s fuel our passion to remain powerful in today’s world by looking ahead and envisioning tomorrow’s communication. By staying agile, embracing innovation, and fostering collaboration, we shape the future of our industry, ensuring its continued impact and relevance.