The Comms Spotlight: Kentice Tikolo, Managing Director, Cause Impact Limited

From managing the affairs of university students as a Dean to founding a Strategic Communications firm in Kenya; A random conversation spurred our Comms Spotlight to take a bold step and pivot into a career in Public Relations. Kentice Tikolo is the Founder and Managing Director of Cause Impact Limited. She’s dedicated to learning from a multi-disciplinary viewpoint and constantly aims for excellence in her execution of Public Relations and Communications initiatives.


Tell us about how you began your career in Communications.

It all started quite unexpectedly! I was serving as the Dean of Students at the Aga Khan Academy when a lady I greatly respected suggested I would excel in PR – because she was impressed by how I served parents!

Naturally, I was initially hesitant – I would never have applied if the job was advertised – but her confidence in me was inspiring. I only moved because she was a lady I had immense respect for. She was my senior, then a manager at a bank, and a very prayerful member of my church. Trusting her judgement that I’d make a good practitioner; I embarked on a new path in PR – and it turned out to be a perfect fit.

Since then, I’ve earned a diploma in PR & Marketing at the London School of Economics and an MSc in PR at the University of Stirling in Scotland. My journey has taken me from being a Public Relations Officer, a PR Manager and PA for three CEOs, a Special Assistant to a Director General to starting my own PR company, Cause Impact Limited (formerly Impact Africa Limited). I have birthed departments, consulted for various clients, and successfully coordinated all kinds of events.

I’m also at the tail end of setting up Kusudi Cause Communication Trust, whose mission is to communicate causes. We have lined up several projects such as Sexuality Education & Mentorship for Adolescents (SEMA), Adopt A School Kenya (to rally alumni around upgrading their former schools, Rada Barabarani (for Road Safety), and Kataa Taka (for environmental conservation and waste management).

I keep on learning from a multi-disciplinary angle. For example, we use an economists’ tool called Net-Map Analysis for stakeholder mapping and the Balanced Score Card for developing communication strategies. I was highly fulfilled teaching PR at the University of Nairobi and have completed my coursework towards a PhD in Climate Change & Adaptation, with a focus on communication and policy.

What do you do as the Managing Director of Cause Impact Limited?

The beauty of communication roles is that every day is an adventure. My primary role is to provide clarity of vision for Cause Impact and build a team of strategic communication practitioners. We want to grow practitioners whose expertise can be felt through the impact of their work.

This I do by identifying and nurturing talent: and getting the best out of those we work with. It’s like being the conductor of an orchestra, making sure every note we play resonates and makes an impact.

Cause Impact is a strategic PR & Communication Management agency, whose work is founded on research as much as it is creative. It is therefore both authentic and impactful, as we blend the science and art of communication. My role is to ensure we live up to our promise.

A typical day is a vibrant mix of activities that can range from brainstorming sessions, client meetings – each bringing its unique set of challenges and opportunities, crafting campaigns or strategising on how to tackle a client’s latest challenge. Every day is dynamic and filled with the thrill of possibility and every now then golden moments of inspiration. The best ideas though come to life over a cup of tea.

Tell us about a significant challenge you have faced on your career journey and how you were able to overcome it.

There is this brilliant campaign that we conceptualised only for it to be taken away once it’s potential became apparent. It was the campaign that should have catapulted Cause Impact (then Impact Africa) to great heights. My heart was broken. Still is.

However, in every challenge, there’s a lesson. It taught me resilience and the importance of keeping an eye out for the next possible break. And believe me, it’s most definitely on the way – the best is yet to come!

Can you share a major highlight from your career journey?

Being elected the chairman of the Public Relations Society of Kenya was a highlight. During my term, we brought a focus on the whole idea of professionalisation of the practice. We started off the continuous professional development (CPD) programme, on which the Society has built and is now moving towards a legal accreditation status.

As a board member at the Global Alliance for PR and Communication Management (GA) during my tenure, we ensured Kenya bagged the right to host the World Conference for Public Relations in Emerging Economies. I would say we brought the world of PR to our doorstep and showcased our potential.

Can you share some of the professionals that have impacted your career journey so far?

Esther Ambah Numaba Cobbah, the founder and managing director of StratComm Africa Limited in Ghana has been a beacon of inspiration. I remember visiting her in Ghana after being completely captivated by her when we met in Nairobi.

I took a week scouring through her work, which included proposals, campaigns and pitches. I couldn’t put down what I saw, which was all grounded in research and creativity. That set a benchmark for me.

I left determined to emulate her strategic thinking in PR and Communication Management. I had the privilege to visit with her a few times later and reconfirmed my respect for her work. She is a powerhouse and has mentored scores of practitioners in Ghana.

What advice would you offer young professionals who want to follow your path?

It is important to recognise and embrace PR and Communication Management as a true profession. It’s not just about being creative; it’s about being strategic and is best practised when we pitch it at the strategic level.

Equip yourself with the right tools to deliver high-quality services for your clients – and this is best done by delving into theoretical as well as creative realms. Keep learning from both academics and real-world experiences and never stop striving for excellence.


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