The Comms Spotlight: Nelson Opany, Senior Manager, Communications and Partnerships, World Organization of the Scout Movement, Africa Region

From humble beginnings in poetry recitation to managing Communications for a global youth movement, Our Comms Spotlight for this week has come a long way. Nelson Opany is the Senior Manager, Communications and Partnerships at the World Organization of the Scout Movement, Africa Region. In his interview with us, he shares insights from his remarkable career journey, highlighting his role in amplifying the voices of young people through advocacy and strategic partnerships.


What initially sparked your interest in pursuing a career in Communications?

When I was in Grade 4, with a push from my English teacher, I took part in inter-school poetry reciting competitions. This introduced me to public speaking and over time I developed an interest in writing poems, which led me to develop a passion for storytelling.

As a youth leader many years later, these early experiences came in handy in helping to articulate important issues on local, national, regional and global stages.

Africa Regional Environmental Advocacy Training held on 14-15 March 2024 at the Emeraude Hotel in Bujumbura, Burundi in the franmewrok of the Africa Scout Day Celebrations, and as part of the Plastic Tide Turners Project Activities

I found communications to be an enabler of many things and I fell in love with it from then, after which I got the opportunity to formally train and practice it for nine years and counting.

What do you do as the Senior Manager, Communications and Partnerships, World Organization of the Scout Movement, Africa Region?

My role is to ensure the delivery of efficient and effective internal and external communications, building strategic and funding partnerships, as well as amplifying the voices of young people through advocacy to support the growth and development of the Scouting movement in Africa.

Besides being a member of the senior management team, I also coordinate the delivery of direct support in these areas to our forty-two (42) National Scout Organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa, to build their capacity to implement strategies that enhance and promote the power of Scouting’s non-formal education programme.

Can you share some highlights from your career journey so far?

Probably the greatest highlight of my career so far is how I managed to pick up a communications function that was falling apart and build a strong and diverse portfolio of work that is now strategically contributing to the fulfillment of the organization’s mission.

When I took up my current role, I had no Communications colleague to induct me and I had to figure things out by myself as I went along. I initially felt very lost and confused but I was determined to succeed. Nine years later, I can look back and feel proud of my contributions.

In the area of partnerships, advocacy and fundraising, I have managed to help establish and manage strong relations and collaborations with a broad spectrum of global, regional, and national partners who provide funding and strategic support to our work with, and for, young people.

I have also made significant contributions in numerous advocacy spaces to help shape policies and processes in close collaboration with young leaders.

Can you tell us about a campaign that you’ve worked on that stands out to you till today?

Not long after I began my career, I had to help organise and deliver a continental. non-formal educational camping event for young people in Cote d’Ivoire.

The event presented many challenges – from the language barrier, to managing the full spectrum of communication activities, to identifying and managing volunteers – all in a fast-paced environment under really hot weather and failing health; but I survived!

This event gave me a reality check, revealing what exactly it means to be a Public Relations and Communications professional in the global space and the demands it comes with. I learnt so much in a very short time that I have carried along with me since then.

How do you stay informed about trends and developments in Communication and partnerships within the African context?

By the nature of my work, I spend a lot of time online; and the internet therefore offers me the space for constant research. I am particularly fond of LinkedIn where I go to read articles, look for resources and learn from the experiences of others.

Over time I have built a network of colleagues and friends across various industries and sectors whom I often have conversations with and bounce ideas off. This way I get to know what they’re doing, and what they consider important and trending.

In-person and virtual events offer a great opportunity for exchanges and shared learning with other professionals across different industries.

Whether work-related or not, such events have always left me better updated and connected with trends and practices in many areas of my work.

What tips would you give to practitioners in the Communications industry?

Regardless of the stage you are at in your career journey, I see these three things as important for any professional in our industry:

  • Invest in your personal development through reading, experimenting, training, and the experiences of seasoned professionals. You cannot deliver better, if you don’t become better.
  • Embrace technology and utilize it to facilitate greater efficiency, effectiveness, creativity and impact measurement in the delivery of public relations and communications campaigns.
  • Don’t let go of an opportunity to demonstrate your value – be it through taking up new responsibilities, assuming leadership roles or volunteering your professional skills. Let people know that they can count on you to offer solutions when it really matters.



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