A professional that’s committed to personal development, our Comms Spotlight for the week goes the extra mile to increase her professional capacity. Rachel Mupela is an Account Executive at Langmead & Baker. In our interview with her she talks to us about her journey so far and lessons she has also learnt.
How did you begin your journey and career in Communications?
I’ve always been fascinated with words, language, and storytelling, but it wasn’t until one casual conversation with a friend spurred me on. She was the editor of a local inflight magazine and was short of content when she asked me if I could write. Right then a fleeting memory of my primary school teacher reprimanding me for always having my nose stuck in a book flashed in my mind. Lol. I brushed off the thought and quickly said yes. I wrote my first published article, a feature on Zambian coffee and the rest is history. I became a contributing writer, eventually rising to the position of deputy publishing editor for the same magazine.
Can you tell us what you do as an Account Executive at Langmead & Baker?
My role covers the typical day-to-day tasks of crafting [or writing] news releases, features, Op-Eds, and profile pieces. I am also involved with publications and social media management, managing client pages and providing creative direction where needed. I liaise with clients on their strategy and how to implement it, and lastly, I assist the Operations manager in the day to day running of the firm.
What are some of the deliberate steps you took to grow professionally?
Surrounding myself with people in the field doing what I want to do – growth is not possible in a vacuum. You need a strong network of like-minded individuals who will be there to guide and mentor you. In addition to building my network, I built my skillset by investing in my education and developing a passion for communications.
I constantly read (still do). I went back to university to pursue something which I felt was more aligned with this path and took courses online wherever I could find them. I took stock of my personal and professional achievements every year to keep me focused and took opportunities to work on something I was unfamiliar with to learn and gain experience.
What will you say is the biggest career challenge you have ever faced and how did you overcome it?
I really can’t pinpoint one major challenge for sure, but moving into new roles that require more of me is always tricky to navigate. There’s always a sense of uncertainty and not being well-equipped for the task at hand. I overcome that by staying humble and teachable. I treat myself like a blank canvas for a while until I am sure that I have caught on and fully integrated.
If a system isn’t broken it doesn’t need a complete overhaul just because I’m the new person in charge, implement change at an easy pace for everyone. I try to get buy in for new ideas by sharing my vision clearly and simply; not everyone has the same imagination or foresight as I do and lastly to overcome any rough days it’s nice to throw in a laugh.
Find the comical side of things to lighten things up, they always make for great stories later.
Can you share some of the key lessons you have gained from your professional journey so far?
Self-leadership/self-management is key – It translates to how you lead others. It doesn’t do anyone any good if you’ve got your own set of priorities that you can’t execute well.
It’s alright to not know everything – having a specialty is also a strength as it allows you to focus and bring your best to the fore.
Always stay open to learning – There’s no excuse for ignorance with the information age that we are in. Be inquisitive, curious and grab opportunities that come your way.
Learn to enjoy what you do – understandably it’s serious business managing clients’ reputation but there’s a sense of joy and fulfilment when what you do contributes to something bigger and impacts lives.
What professional advice would you give to your younger professional self?
Be patient with the process – your journey is uniquely yours.
Strive to be the best you can be, you’re building your own legacy.
Take more risks – that’s how you learn and grow.
The Comms Spotlight is a weekly segment where we feature communications professionals across Africa doing amazing work. Want to be featured or know someone we should feature? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org