Majority of students today would approach a new environment with eager and vigour in a bid to deliver and show what they have been taught at the university. In my case when I jumped straight to corporate world after college in my native country, Kenya, a full steam to deliver within a short time was one thing I looked forward to for a long time. However when that opportunity presented itself first at government agencies (National Environment Management Authority), Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and then later at private sector; The Standard Group in Kenya, all that I waited came to pass. It was a day like any other on the very first day of work. Anxiousness gripped in even though I had prepared myself mentally to deal with the oncoming task. Not until I was introduced to the corporate affairs team that the entire mental preparedness shattered off my day’s goal. I did not virtually know where to begin only for one of the team leader’s Ms Olive Metet (communication officer) got hold of me and guided me for the better part of the day and the subsequent weeks in the department of Corporate Affairs.
NEMA was a newly formed parastatal mandated with formulation of regulations on environment. With fresh Public Relation (PR) skills from college, I was overly aware of what to do but my work hadn’t been tested anywhere else. This was not only that opportunity to exhibit and be tested but also get the outcome of what I did then as seen from corporate perspective. Assignments rolled in day by day among them an intensive research for environmental issues, assessment of daily developments on environmental regulations and United Nations Environment Programmes (UNEP) reports which were coupled with thousands of publications.
My role was clear cut in line with the communication career which I undertook. Although my focus was in more of business sector, I later realized that the Corporate Affairs has a direct link with the sector. And so, I attended business sector events and key government initiated programmes which include those funded directly by the Finnish government in the Ministry of Forestry on the initial assignments.
The most striking feat during my practical training was when I was tasked to prepare corporate brief for the CEO together with supervisor. This was a challenge. I managed to scribble down a few lines as per the requirement of the communication principles but I wasn’t sure enough whether it will meet NEMA’s corporate affairs merits. There was a bit of misunderstanding on however the final script would be presented since I was the main author. Teamwork was the major contributor of part of what I delivered since not all the tasks given would easily be approved without through analysis by the head of department. In his absence, I did learn also that there is corporate hierarchy where roles are delegated whenever the head of department or unit is away. It was a necessity of each department to produce draft reports in which we could review and edit during quarterly workshops.
With functioning departments, delivery of work was smoothly conducted and a follow-up was also the major task in order to ascertain the impact of the tasks done at a given time. I learnt respective roles in the corporate that function differently but connected to communication unit which was the main link to the customer and the agency, NEMA.
NEMA provided me with positive learning experience having worked there in communication and public information projects for over one year. This platform enabled me to understand the operational nature of the state agencies and the link with business sector. It was NEMA’s role to ensure that stakeholders in the business sector are well aware and without production of information materials, this effort would not have been achieved.
- reviewing and writing of environmental reports
- editing and producing of information materials
- segmenting clients-based reports
- developing communication strategies
- Liaising with private sector and the agency through seminars, forums and annual events
In my reflection, this was a moment to follow through my career in the corporate sector as well as understanding key regulation issues that affect businesses around the world.