Making Waves: Rudo Makoni
‘Attitude is like a signature perfume’
Public relations and communications specialist Constance Rudo Makoni is an IMM Graduate School alumni who has worked her way from being a reporter with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority to working as a deputy director in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. There she learnt the art of communications and working within a state environment. Now she is putting her skills to great use at the National Social Security Authority.
What is the life quote you believe suits you best and why?
“The difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude.”
This quote best suits me because I know for a fact that one’s attitude defines who you are and the path you will take in life. I strive to have a positive attitude – be it at home, school, or at work. I am consistent like that. I am a bubbly character and I can’t stand people who have a negative attitude! So each morning I look in the mirror and say to myself, “Good morning you good-looking thing, go out there and show them what you are made of”. Attitude is like that signature perfume that our peers identify us with.
Can you tell us about your career journey and a bit more about your challenges and triumphs in your past and present role?
I began my career 10 years ago as a news reporter with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority (ZBC) which is the sole broadcaster in Zimbabwe. The job was exciting, I had the energy and zeal for it. As a young reporter I loved hearing the sound of my voice and so I pushed myself to have more stories on the line-up and before I knew it, the recognition that every journalist yearns for began to come my way. I won many accolades during my stint and this encouraged me to work harder.
In 2016 an opportunity arose, and I dived into deep waters and became the Deputy Director Public Affairs in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. I was the youngest Deputy Director in the Ministry reporting to the Permanent Secretary. When I assumed the role, I had no idea how big the post was but I put in the hours, did a lot of research and received a lot of support from colleagues who were already in the public relations profession. Although I enjoyed the post, my heart yearned for being a well-rounded integrated marketing communications professional. So when another opportunity availed itself I said my goodbyes and joined the National Social Security Authority (NSSA). My current job has been very enlightening and I’m grateful that it has taught me and redefined the word ‘empathy’.
Why did you choose marketing as your career?
It was during my current job that I had a Damascene moment and decided to upgrade my academic qualifications. I had to take action, so I set a target and then joined IMM Graduate School for the Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing Management. Coincidentally one of the modules, Applied Marketing Leadership, had Sir Richard Branson as the case study and the focus was on how he practiced strategic empathy. This case study sharpened my skills and helped me immensely in dealing with both internal and external clients.
What would your advice be to someone starting out in marketing?
I would advise them to go right ahead and start without delay. Marketing is quite exciting and rewarding.
Do you believe certain people are cut out for marketing and others not, or can you learn your way into being an effective marketer?
I think it’s a blend of both, there are people who are natural marketers and can make an Eskimo buy ice and there are those who are very good at analysing trends, predicting customer behaviours and measuring activities. The latter does not come naturally; it is based on knowledge acquisition.
Could you give us a brief outline of your education qualifications?
I hold a Master of Commerce Degree in Marketing Management from the Midlands State University (2018-2019)
Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing Management – IMM Graduate School (2017-2018)
Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies – Zimbabwe Open University (2011-2014)
Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication – Christian College of Southern Africa (2006-2007)
What are the five most important lessons you learned on your journey?
Relying on God and not on my own understanding
The world owes me nothing
My words are my reality
Always be grateful
Do your best the rest will follow
What does being an IMM Graduate School alumni offer you and what do you offer the IMM in return?
As an alumni I strongly believe that when I enter the job market my IMM
qualification will give me a competitive advantage. The IMM alumni offers networking platforms, career advancement prospects and linking us up with potential employers. I intend to offer the school my expertise through mentorship programmes, participating in the journals as well as contributing in any way I can.
Marketing and comms are changing so much, so rapidly, with the technological advances of this era in media. How would you define the changes and how have you embraced them?
I think the three areas of marketing that have been transformed by technological advancements are the speed, relevance and reach of campaigns. Marketers need to update their skills in order to make the most of these fast-moving, and highly relevant campaigns through digital. They need to work closely with data specialists, web developers and social media professionals. I know this is an adage, but marketers need to think globally and act locally, particularly in the context of the technological advancements.
How do you keep yourself educated on developments in your sector?
I am an avid reader and I use the internet to research a lot on current market trends. Over and above that I am affiliated to a number of professional associations that include Marketers Association of Zimbabwe, where platforms to discuss changes in the market are created and various panelists are invited to lead intensive discussions.
Do you have a role model in life and in work, or both?
Of course, I have role models, who wouldn’t! In fact, I have quite a number who fit into my aspirations in different ways. The first one is my mum Jestinah Makoni. I watched her study, work hard and challenge the status quo. She is no pushover and for someone from a humble background her faith and positive attitude saw her achieving a lot in life.
I don’t know how some will take this, but I have a male role model who happens to be Sir Richard Branson. After researching and studying him I was so impressed, and I adored his character and business acumen a lot. He made me embrace an entrepreneurial side that I never imagined existed inside me.
What is your view on social media communications and how do you manage this kind of communication?
Social media has taken over. No marketer or communications professional worth his salt can ignore this phenomenon as it has revolutionised customer engagement. Equally, social media due to its indelible and fast spreading nature, has given marketers headaches. My thesis was anchored on online reputation management and how companies should deploy the use of influencing, analysis and monitoring to manage their social media platforms.
What do you believe will be the top five marketing trends of 2020?
Virtual and augmented reality
Google Ads Smart Bidding
What devices/technology can you not live without?
I cannot do without my phone.