The Launch of Zambia’s First iStore…

Emma Peet on her Challenges Worldwide, ICS placement:
“I took place in ICS because I wanted to immerse myself in a completely new culture, whilst applying my marketing skills to an SME where I could make an impact. The format of the programme appealed to me; live with a host family to experience the true Zambian experience and worked alongside a Zambian counterpart. 10 weeks was also a good length of time to settle and feel like I could make a difference.

Before I came on placement I had worked in full-time employment for three years. My job prior to this was a Marketing Officer role at the University of Derby. This involved overseeing all marketing activity for the College of Health & Social Care, with line management responsibility.

I have learnt an awful lot about Zambian culture during my time here, from an introductory culture show put on by the Zambian volunteers to working and living with Zambians. I have particularly enjoyed this part of the programme, as there are parts of the culture that have surprised me, such as the tendency to always share with their peers and also their light-hearted manner.

My placement was a great learning curve; working at Cutting Edge gave me an invaluable insight into the workings of a very successful public relations company, and I was able to help with day-to-day operations such as the creation of media strategies for clients. For example, we were able to assist Cutting Edge with the event management of the launch of Zambia’s first ever iStore; working with clients such as Apple has been a real privilege.

Harriet and I also contributed to the daily monitoring of media to compile media reports. Our fellow colleagues were extremely helpful and open to questions, which really aided our learning. As the weeks progressed, Harriet and I took on more consultancy work, and we learnt how to compile reports in a variety of areas, such as social media competitive analyses and staff training opportunities. Much of this was done through our own initiative, which was a rewarding process. The CMI programme has been helpful at times to put our consultancy work into perspective; for example, the formatting and flow of our competitive analysis reports on social media. CMI has also been helpful for considering different models for analysis, such as the SWOT analysis. My counterpart hadn’t worked in an office environment before the programme, so we worked together to delegate tasks to fit each of our individual skillsets.

The consultancy aspect of the programme has taught me the value of stepping back from problems before tackling them. I hope to put this into practice in the future as I now understand the value of doing so. I am very interested in a career in PR so I will be able to apply the skills I’ve learnt as a PR practitioner in my future career.

Prior to the programme, I was a confident and able person, who felt comfortable around new people. I wasn’t especially happy in my previous job; I had a lot of responsibility and was losing my passion for what I was doing. I saw ICS as an opportunity to apply my marketing skills in an entirely new environment, to help those that need it most. I now have a renewed sense of enthusiasm for marketing and PR, and by realising its dynamic nature, I am positive about the new places my marketing skills could take me. Being on the programme I now feel more comfortable around new people, in both working and personal environments. Having never stayed abroad for longer than a month prior to this programme, I now have more drive than ever to explore and live in new parts of the world. The ICS team has made me realise that people who want to work abroad are often like-minded and conscientious people, and that any difference in age is insignificant. It’s reassuring to know that there will always be opportunities to undertake similar things with a community of enthusiastic people around you.

I believe that I’m now more employable, as I now have practical experience in consultancy which I didn’t have before. This is very different from work I’ve done before as I wasn’t reporting to a manager at work, but instead working autonomously to determine what the business would benefit most from.

The fact that I have worked in a fast-paced agency environment with renowned clients such as Apple, and the internationally recognized CMI qualification, and the experience of working in a developing country, I will undoubtedly be more attractive to potential employers.

ICS has taught me that everything has to adapt to change in order to develop; including myself as an individual and the business I have worked with. During my time at Cutting Edge, three employees left the business to develop their personal careers, which was respected by the CEO; development is an essential endeavor to succeed. In the tough financial landscape of Zambia, it is more important than ever that businesses develop to attract new customers. I am happy that I’ve been able to contribute to the development of Cutting Edge PR’s strategies, through assisting with their social media. Staff development has played a crucial role in my ICS experience; we’ve trained staff on social media and website building, and recommended specialist training and suggested an away day agenda. Realising the importance of staff development has been the key driver behind these activities.

I have applied for a visa to work in Canada for up to 24 months with International Experience Canada.  I was considering doing this before starting the programme, but living and working in a completely new environment and feeling a great sense of fulfillment has confirmed to me that there is always more to learn from living and working somewhere different.

I have always wanted to work for a marketing agency, and having the opportunity to do this should stand out to potential employers. I have only ever worked for an in-house marketing team before, and having worked with different clients will hopefully prove to be a real asset. I would also now consider doing more consultancy work; this is something I’ve thought about but wanted to build experience beforehand. This is a medium to long term goal if consultancy work is something I want to pursue.”

Check out the iStore that Harriet and Emma helped to launch here!

And for more info, follow the link to Cutting Edge’s website where you can read the press releases produced during their placements.

 

 

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