Insight.We live in an era that celebrates and rewards multi-talented and multi-skilled people. Reading the times well, Rita Kyategeka has endeavoured to equip herself with the skills needed to thrive in this economy.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Rita Kyategeka. I am the policy, advocacy and communications manager at World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). WWF is an international fundraising organisation that works in collaboration with existing conservation groups to bring financial support to the worldwide conservation movement. I am also the co-chair for the global WWF Communicators’ Leadership group covering about 100 countries. I am also a journalist, fundraiser, chartered marketer and public relations professional.
Take us through your career
While doing my undergraduate degree in Mass Communication at Makerere University, as a public relations major, my lecturers Gilbert Kadilo and Daniel Kalinaki advised me to try out writing and I fell in love with it. I started writing for the Daily Monitor but later switched to communication when I joined ActionAid Uganda.
Here, I stumbled into another love of mine; advocacy communications. I was honoured to be part of campaigns such as Black Monday and the Anti-Corruption Caravan, among others. I later did my Masters in Journalism and Communication before enrolling at the Chartered Institute of Marketing in Nairobi to qualify as a chartered marketer. It has been eight years of a learning and rewarding journey and I am excited see what the future holds for me.
How easy was it for you to switch fields in your career?
Leaving active journalism to become a communications officer was not as easy as I had thought. It wasn’t until I started work that it hit me that I was no longer the person in control of the narrative but now I had become a source. I found it so annoying having to rely on someone less experienced than me to help me publish the necessary information.
However, it became much easier for me to market the organisation in the media because I knew the industry well and I still had friends in the media fraternity.
Why should one choose communication as a career?
We are in an era where the public is thirsty for information. Even the smallest firms are looking for professionals to help them package their messages well and feed it to their audiences either to inform, educate, change behaviour or even to entertain. The trend is not about to change. The expectation is that communication will continue to be in high demand.
Communication professionals will continue to be sought after to assist businesses and individuals in building their reputations, relationships, public images and to change consumer or personal behaviours. The United Kingdom Bureau of Labour Statistics projected seven per cent growth for communications jobs from 2014 to 2024. The professionals just need to be ready for these appointments by acquiring skills to fit their clients well in the very dynamic media landscape.
What is the best career advice anyone has given you?
Two years after graduation, I applied for a job that required five years’ experience. I felt I would not qualify. I had previously done an interview with Hellen Kaweesa, the then public relations manager at Parliament of Uganda for a Sunday column and I had kept her contact. I decided to go and meet her for some tips. I explained to her that I knew I would not qualify but just wanted to give it a try. She then gave me my best career advice which is personal branding.
She challenged me to go and market myself, my talents and position myself as the best thing that can ever happen to the organisation. It is the same advice I can pass on to any young person. Brand yourself well and always show why you are better than all the other candidates. A great personal brand makes you a great brand ambassador for your new employee. My father, Mr Gastafas Nyende (RIP) also emphasised that the boss is always right. I still think he was right.
How do you balance work and life?
I try to work smart and not carry work home or over to the weekend. So in my other life, I am just a young lady ‘eating life’ while in office, I am running up and down to have campaigns flagged off, MOUs signed, policy reforms enacted and ministerial directives for nature recovery delivered.
What advice would you give a new entrant in the profession you are in?
My advice would be for them to be a Jack of all trades. There is no speciality anymore. You need to have skills in broadcasting, writing and public speaking. You need to be good with digital and social media. Each of these skills is important if you are going to brand yourself as the best communications person on the market.
It is an era of possibilities. You are your own branding and marketing manager. What you sell will determine the opportunities you land yourself into. If you sell self-pity and laziness, I am afraid you may not have a lot of clients. If you sell yourself as a smart, ambitious, innovative hardworking go-getter, everyone will want to associate with you.