Ukwori Ejibe joined IABC/Calgary when she moved to Calgary in September 2020. She joined the organization to network with other communications professionals, and to also have an opportunity to contribute to the profession in Canada. Her interest in IABC was inspired by participating in a panel discussion on Strategic Communications in a Pandemic organized by IABC West Africa Interest Group (WAIG). She says, “The interactions I had before and after the event inspired me to become a part of a network of experienced communicators. But prior to my interaction, when I was tasked to lead crisis communications for the public health response in Nigeria, I accessed several useful resources and webinars from the IABC website that supported me at work.”
There are several aspects of being a member of IABC that Ukwori appreciates. She believes that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the transition into a new country and market harder, but the connections she has made at IABC/Calgary have become part of her support system in Calgary. She is also grateful for the IABC’s strong international network, which encourages cross country learnings and discussions. Lastly, Ukwori enjoys reading The Hub – “It’s now my routine to catch up on conversations at the end of each day.”
Ukwori holds a BSc. in Economics from Mount Holyoke College, a Master’s in Public Policy from the National University of Singapore and a Master’s in Public Affairs from Institut d’études politiques de Paris. She is a strategic communications and public policy professional with vast government, private sector and non-profit project management experience. She uses her background in public affairs and public policy to oversee high impact communications to multiple stakeholders. She has developed and managed over 10 large scale communications and development projects in the education, SME development and health sector in Africa, Europe, North America and Asia for private and public sector clients. Until recently, she was the strategic communications, change management and partnerships advisor at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) supporting the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). In this role, she led the crisis communications team for the public health response to COVID-19 in Nigeria. She states this experience has been her greatest professional accomplishment to date.
“The crisis highlighted the critical importance of a communicator and it was an honor to serve in this capacity on a national level. For a country of approximately 200 million people, huge mistrust and misinformation, communications were particularly challenging. Despite this, the knowledge that I was part of a team that provided accurate information to Nigerians on COVID-19 daily was a huge accomplishment. I believe that all my experiences in different sectors helped strengthen my capacity to perform my role effectively. In addition, I mastered the ability to stay calm in a fast- paced environment, which was very important in managing crisis, offer advice to senior health leadership, learn and unlearn very quickly to keep up with the rapidly changing information and lead a large team of dedicated and selfless people while managing communications end-to-end.”
A number of people have played key roles in helping Ukwori build and maintain a thriving career. At different times, people have encouraged, taught and mentored her, and they have ranged from former bosses, senior professional colleagues, mentors, friends and communications professionals on LinkedIn. She says, “I am continually pushed to take on roles beyond my comfort zone and with the support system I have had over the years, I have grown professionally at a fast pace.”
And Ukwori’s advice to fellow communicators? “Be open to learning, join a professional network and do not be afraid to reach out for support. You also have transferrable skills that are needed in the industry regardless of your education or prior experience.” Ukwori herself took on her first communications manager role with no formal education in communications, but since then she has thrived. She currently is navigating and looking for new job/volunteer opportunities, has spent time networking, learning about the industry in Canada and developing herself further through short courses and webinars.
Ukwori enjoys reading fiction especially written by African writers. She also loves self-discovery books. She recommends Range by David Epstein. She says, “I have come to terms with being generalist and will continue to satisfy my curiosity about different things. And as a parent, my biggest takeaway is to expose my kids to different hobbies which would help choose a particular hobby they truly enjoy later on in life.”