This week on Comms Spotlight, Kenneth Jura, a multilingual professional who is currently Communications Coordinator, Voice (Oxfam Novib & Hivos). Kenneth is passionate about social change and using communications to make impact in society.
How did you begin your career in Communications?
My communications journey started some years back as an officer overseeing registration and information at Alliance Française while teaching French. I grew in the job as I was always fascinated by how people appreciated the kind of information that I shared.
What do you do as the Communications Coordinator, Voice (Oxfam Novib & Hivos)?
I take the lead in the development and implementation of a communications strategy as well as assess and seize opportunities for media engagement for partners in Africa and South East Asia. I work closely with the Linking, Learning and Amplifiers, that is, Communications Officers in ten countries. In so doing, we abide by some of the tenets of hope-based communication strategies.
What are the core Communication skills that have helped you on your career journey?
One of the most important skills that have helped me navigate my career is intercultural communication skills and taking time to understand my audience before undertaking any assignment. Secondly, once I know my audience, I actively listen to understand the issues that require resolution and not listen to respond. Lastly, multi-lingual skills have also been critical in that I can speak three languages perfectly well. This helped me engage different linguistic and cultural audiences with ease.
What impact do you believe Communications can make in Social Change?
Communication will be effective in facilitating empowerment, making people recognise the issues that need social change, and facilitating participation in social change issues, especially for the youth. I will give an example; the youth form the most significant percentage of the population in Africa compared to the other continents. How do we, therefore, communicate about sexual reproductive health rights? Communication, therefore, will play a role in empowering the youth about this critical aspect. Furthermore, it will also play a role in discerning how best information about such an issue will be made accessible to the youth and in which channels those pieces of information will be relayed. Communication is a process where the ultimate goal is social change; therefore, throughout the cycle of change, there is evaluation and measuring of the impact.
How do you stay up to date with trends in the industry?
I keep abreast with reading global communication trends and attending workshops spearheaded by professional bodies in the country and region. I also call colleagues in the communications space for peer-to-peer learning.
What advice do you have for young professionals who want to start a career in Comms?
Start by knowing the different areas of communication and try your hands in each before settling on the specific area of communication you like the most. This process helps them be diverse in the communications sector, appreciate the difference, and strengthen their resolve in their choices.