Noel Wandera is well known in both journalism and PR circles for his stints in The Standard Group and Gina Din Corporate Communications (now the Gina Din Group). He talks to Nairobiliving.com on his motivations, his view of where electronic media is heading and his new baby Dailymail.co.ke
Where did you go to school?
I did my primary education at St Peters Primary School, Ishiara in the then Embu District but now Mbere. For my O – Level’s, I went to Kakamega High School for my ‘O’ levels and St Peters High School, Mumias for my ‘A’ levels. I then attended the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton where I graduated with a BA English (Minor) & Automotive Technology (Minor). This was followed by proceeding to the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication for a Post Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication
You were well known for your job at Gina Din Corporate Communications (now GDG Group). What other jobs have you done?
Before joining Gina Din in 2006, I was at the Standard Newspapers between 2001 and 2006. I was on the business beat, covering Tourism, Aviation & ICT. I joined Gina Din in 2006 to handle clients related to my field of specialisation namely Kenya Airways, Safaricom Limited, South African Tourism Board and UUNET, now MTN Business.
I left Gina Din in November last year to Express DDB, an advertising & media buying firm where I had a short stint. My brief was to start a PR unit within the company. The unit is up and running. But realising that my ambitions were not being met, I made the hard decision to leave the company two months ago into self employment, partnering with a former colleague Steven Njenga.
What are some of the most memorable experiences in your life?
The fact that I am married to a beautiful wife Jane, and two cute and handsome babies, Tamara & Tendai respectively
The exposure that I have been able to receive in my line of duty, both at The Standard and Gina Din Corporate Communications. While at the Standard, I had the privilege of touring the entire Kenya with the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), experiencing Kenya’s 42 different cultures & interviewing great individuals, chief amongst them the late Akuku Danger who had over 40 wives. I have also sampled European culture in France, Britain and Germany covering KTB events, as well as other cultures on the African continent, like Comoros, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania, most of it with Kenya Airways when they were opening new routes to serve their Jomo Kenyatta International Airport hub
Being on the receiving end of commercial interest between Media houses and corporate entities. While with the standard, I wrote a hard hitting piece on the corruption that involved a major Government Corporation which I won’t name, importing poles from Tanzania while the same could be sourced from Kenya. Although I had my facts right, I was made to retract the story, which was the P3 headline, as demanded by the said parastatal. It is still vivid to me with my senior, David Okwemba, who had just joined to The Daily Nation, calling to ask if I still had a job!
The Kenya Airways Douala crash was one of the lowest points of my career. I remember being woken up by my executive director, Desiree Gomes at around 4 am and instructed to find my way to the KQ headquarters, Embakasi. What followed was almost a month of sleepless nights managing that crisis. You know what is happening, but cannot release raw information to grief stricken relatives and the media because sanity has to prevail. After the whole exercise, the entire Gina Din staff had to undergo trauma counselling.
How have these experiences informed how you go about the business of your life:
They have taught me moderation, patience and how to deal with disappointments & arrogance from others.
What are you up to now?
As I said earlier, my friend and former colleague, Steve Njenga have set up a communications consultancy agency called Arkhesolutions to claim a stake in Kenya’s Public Relations and online news gathering space, the latter of which we are still piloting – www.thedailymail.co.ke.
What informed my decision?
Ambition, off course. We intend to be a force to reckon with, especially in the on-line media space, which has a lot of opportunities to exploit. We know that we have what it takes to succeed, having been in the media industry for over 13 years.
Where is the broadcast arm of the communication industry headed at the moment?
The liberalisation of Kenya’s media sector has led to it opening up its space, which provides the next challenge, which is to satisfy it with the requisite content. We will start seeing more independent production houses emerging to feed this hungry market with data every day.
With the intended digitalisation process coming, TV stations will have more airspace. There will be channels specifically to air business, entertainment, documentaries, sports you name it. In fact, sometimes I wonder if we shall have enough journalists and producers to satisfy this market needs.
I foresee the emergence of service providers from where leading stations will lease their services like going to the site and linking with the studios, instead of them sending their crew because of various factors like distance and even lack of personnel.
I also see a situation where TV stations will only have core employees – News anchors, in-house studio technical personnel and the management team etc – then outsource content producers who will however need to meet the respective stations’ quality standards
What would you say is a really good place to have a meal in Nairobi at under Kshs1,000:
I do not have any preference for a particular place at all. Infact what dictates where I eat is my meetings with clients and newsmakers.