Isa is a driven and creative communications professional with extensive experience delivering communications and marketing plans for national and international businesses across a range of sectors, including FMCG, agriculture, oil & gas, and mining. Isa is also very passionate about sustainability and developing solutions for a sustainable economy. He is a self-starter, with a global perspective and significant consulting experience.
Describe yourself/your background in 5 words max?
London via Nigeria. Beard gang.
How did you get into PR/communications?
My path into PR was quite unconventional, as I imagine is the case for most BME PR pros. After graduating from the University of Leicester in 2015, I initially pursued a career as an independent filmmaker. I set up my own video production company with financial backing from the UnLtd organization and UBS Investment Bank and spent my first two years after university attempting to grow the business and win new clients. Setting up a business, as many are aware, is no easy feat, and after deciding to collapse the business, I wanted to find a career in which I could maintain my creative flair, whilst learning more about the world of business and working in a corporate environment. After applying for numerous business consultancy graduate schemes and internships, I landed my first two PR internships in PR; the first was at Frank PR, and the second was at Bell Pottinger, during the infamous Gupta family scandal.
What do you love about your job?
What I love about my job is how much I get to learn each day. I also love the fact that the focus is on Africa, as it affords me the opportunity to stay on top of relevant business and policy developments on the continent.
What are you most proud of?
One of my proudest achievements to date is completing production on my first short film, which I wrote, produced and directed in my final year of university. Prior to setting up my video production company, in 2014, I was awarded a grant of £1,500 from the UnLtd organisation to go towards the production of my debut film, despite having no prior film-making experience. I shot the film over the summer of 2014 and hoped to have it completed before resuming university for my final year. However, the editor I had hired to complete the film ran away with my deposit without commencing work on the film. In my final year of university, I had to juggle completing my short film with writing a 10,000-word dissertation of African American involvement in World War I and II and the extent to which it improved the socio-economic condition of African Americans at home. A new film editor, a dissertation and several exams and essays later, I finished university with a short film!
What’s been the hardest lesson to learn?
You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.
Who are your favourite people in PR/comms and why?
Joel Kibazo, founder of JK Associates. Joel was previously Managing Director, Africa at FTI Consulting; Director of External Relations and Communications at the African Development Bank; and Official Spokesperson and Director of Communications and Public Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat. Prior to his career in communications, Joel was a journalist at the Financial Times, during which time he covered financial markets, and the African business and financial sector. Joel’s illustrious career in journalism and PR serves as inspiration to me, particularly his dedication to Africa’s public and private sectors.
What skill do you think every PR/comms person has to nail?
Knowing whom you are talking to at any given moment.
What is your favourite social network and why?
I’d have to say Instagram as it’s the only social media platform I use recreationally.
What’s your favourite podcast and why?
Can I say The Joe Budden Podcast? It’s a controversial pick but I think Joe Budden does a really good job discussing current themes in a manner that is accessible and communicable, which is at the end of the day what comms is about.
Who is your favourite journalist and why?
I wouldn’t say I have a favourite journalist but recently I have found myself reading a lot of E. Alex Jung’s interviews, namely his profiles of Michaela Coel and Thandie Newton. It’s no stretch to say that both interviews “broke the internet”, with both stars making revealing revelations, but what I love most about the interviews, and Jung’s writing, is the fearlessness and commitment to holding authority to account.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Read the papers and watch the news every day.
How would you describe 2020 in one word?
Who is your coronavirus comms hero and why?
I think Governor Andrew Cuomo has done an amazing job managing the coronavirus outbreak in the State of New York, considering the lack of support he has received from Agent Orange (President Trump). As the epicentre of the pandemic in America for much of the outbreak, handling the crisis in New York required exemplary leadership, empathy and clear communication, all things I believe Governor Cuomo displayed on a daily basis during the peak of the outbreak.
Finally… Which brand impressed you with their response to Black Lives Matter and why?
Ben and Jerry’s has done great comms work around Black Lives Matter, but what impresses me about them is that they have been speaking on racial inequality and prison abolition for a while now. No brand that has had to respond to the movement has impressed me because I cannot help but feel disappointed that it took something so graphic to get people to recognise that there is an issue.