Welcome to the Catalyst Member Spotlight series. Catalyst prioritizes sharing members’ stories to showcase the breadth of the IABC community, connect communicators across the globe and elevate personal stories to inspire fellow members. If you’re a chapter leader who would like to spotlight a stand-out member of your chapter, email the Catalyst editors at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Meet IABC member Chukwuemeka (Jude) Okonkwo! Okonkwo is a communications consultant with 15 years of experience in the profession. He is a member of the IABC London chapter in Ontario, Canada. Here, Okonkwo reflects on a project he takes pride in and how he collaborates with other professionals. Plus, if you’re looking for a burst of inspiration, Okonkwo shares what puts him in a creative mindset when producing new communication material.
What is the most exciting aspect of your role as a communicator?
The most exciting aspect of my role as communicator is the awareness that through the messages I create, I can positively impact the actions and inactions that shape perceptions, beliefs and the lives of (un)targeted audiences “glocally.” It fascinates me that I can unconsciously influence outcomes through communication. This single fact whets my creative appetite and guides my ethical considerations whenever I am developing a communication material or executing a communication project.
Share a situation or project that made you feel valued as a communicator.
One project that stands out for me is the ExxonMobil Nigeria — One Team, One Job communication campaign. This campaign was executed as part of an overarching “Value to Nigeria” project. Part of the campaign goal was to create a collegial sense of purpose among the workforce and other stakeholders in the execution of the business objective to deliver business operations optimally while keeping resources safe.
To execute this campaign, I thought it would be innovative to apply the same project management system that the company uses to deliver its pipeline projects, given its flexibility to be adapted and applied to projects of any size. Conceptualizing the communication campaign as a project guided the decision to deploy the project management system which I had successfully used to support the different project management teams. With the full support and guidance of my supervisor and in alignment with the teams, I knew I was bound for success.
The first stage of the process was the business development planning that helped us define the objective and value of the campaign vis-à-vis to the business. The second stage included providing the basis to evaluate the first stage option upon execution. At the execution stage we monitored, tracked, measured, reevaluated and reapplied lessons learned throughout the campaign until completion.
Ultimately, the team had the opportunity to seamlessly monitor, track and measure outcomes of the different contents developed and deployed across multiple channels. We succeeded in mitigating most of the challenges and issues encountered throughout the campaign execution because we already anticipated most of them at the planning stage. The campaign was deemed successful because we achieved more than 95% of the set goal. The approach I used for the communication project, the successful results and the feedback I received made me feel appreciated as a communicator.
Think back on a time when you collaborated with another department to bring a project to life. What made this process successful?
In my experience as a communicator, the success of my collaborations with other teams is based on three factors: the people, systems and outcome, each intertwined. From working with the legal department to endorse all external communications to liaising with the finance/procurement group to scope the deliverables of a vendor contract, I have noticed a consistency. People who understand and align with the communication objective and have knowledge of the tools required to execute the set goals will deliver the desired outcome, irrespective of the challenges encountered during the process.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? Who gave it?
The best career advice I have received so far is the 10-steps-ahead approach, taking the painstaking extra steps above the baseline to distinguish myself. My mentor Patrick O. Okigbo III advised me in the early stage of my career to apply this approach to my life and work. This guided me to write down my career goals for regular review, anticipate the issues and challenges I would encounter, and have a mitigation plan and clear vision of what the industry will require of me. This gives me an edge and keeps me ahead of the curve. His advice aligns with my childhood Scout motto: Be prepared.
In addition to Okigbo’s advice, I also learned the act of volunteering to assist people who need guidance in making the best-informed decision on the career path they want to pursue.
Share a favorite resource that helps you stay connected and informed in the industry.
I stay connected and informed in the industry through the IABC London Chapter, The Hub, Catalyst, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, IPR PR News and other communication-focused books of interest.
IABC Staff, Featuring Chukwuemeka (Jude) Okonkwo