Jessica Hope is the founder and managing director of Wimbart, a London based boutique PR agency. Wimbart specializes in the African tech startup sector, with clients predominantly based in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana.
Jessica has worked in public relations for over a decade at agencies and in-house, with an emphasis on the business-to-business, government and arts sectors. A self-proclaimed history nerd, Jessica previously worked in London as a press officer at the Natural History Museum before taking up the role of head of press for the Jewish Museum.
She was lured into the Africa tech space when she became the global head of communications for IROKO, the burgeoning media and entertainment technology company. Jessica’s years working at one of Africa’s most talked about startups gave her the opportunity to build networks across the continent. From there, she went on to launch Wimbart, her own PR agency.
Prior to building a career in PR, Jessica worked in journalism as a consumer lifestyle and pop culture writer. She is a regular speaker on tech in Africa and hosts masterclasses on PR for startups in emerging markets.
I was educated at the University of Manchester. I have a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Masters in Religion & Political Life.
MY FIRST JOB
My first job was as a journalist, in Manchester. I had a passion for writing and I edited a number of city-focused lifestyle magazines. It was there that I met and worked for Jason Njoku, who then hired me to run global communications soon after IROKO launched.
MY FIRST BIG CAREER BREAK
I got my first big break in my career by applying for a temp job on Gumtree. It was for a press officer role at the Natural History Museum in London. From there, I went on to become the PR manager at the Jewish Museum. After that, I moved into the communications role at IROKO, which ultimately opened the door to the African tech and entertainment space for me.
MY TYPICAL WORKING DAY
I get up early, check some emails and respond to anything urgent that’s come in overnight. Then I feed my son, get him ready and take him to the childminder’s before I head to Wimbart’s offices in London Bridge.
I have a catch up with the team, and then it’s a case of getting through the most urgent activities – emails, client calls, campaign plans, issuing out releases, brainstorming sessions with the team. Each day is different.
We’ve just had our client Farmcrowdy over in the UK for a series of events, so we’ve been busy organizing interviews for them with various media outlets. In between, I’m juggling several inbound new business requests.
I’m also planning a roundtable event I’m hosting at this year’s Afrobytes in Paris, so I’ve been busy confirming experts in media, communications and advertising, and then I’ll start working on what the panel will cover in terms of content.
I work all the time, that’s one of the downfalls of having emails come to your phone! However, I still try and spend as much time with my son and partner, especially at weekends.
I can’t live without Beyoncé. And cheese.
I’m always inspired by my clients. I’m fortunate to work with a lot of entrepreneurs and CEOs, and I love hearing about their journeys, the sacrifices they’ve made and how they’ve overcome various challenges to build their companies.
My secret talent is chess. I used to play for my county when I was young and was a national champion when I was 11 or 12.
BEST CAREER ADVICE
The best career advice I ever received is to work for yourself. I was encouraged by Jason Njoku to set up on my own, because he saw that I had a particular skillset in a very niche market. He encouraged me to set up a company and build on what I had already accomplished at IROKO.
If it hadn’t been for Jason’s belief in my ability, or his vision for what I could build in terms of a PR company, I don’t think Wimbart would be in existence today.
MY BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT
My biggest achievement is sustained growth at Wimbart, month on month, in the two years since we launched.
Looking ahead I’ll be growing the Wimbart team this year, as well as continuing to build a more pan-African client base. The majority of our clients are in Nigeria, although we have started attracting more interest from Kenya and Ghana. I’d like to build on this over the coming 12 to 18 months.
I LOVE WHAT I DO BECAUSE…
It is genuinely fulfilling. I try to take time out as often as I can to stand back and take stock on all that the company has achieved in such a short time period. It’s so important to be critical and self-reflective on your business choices. But at the same time, you also need to know when to evaluate the success, which is not always easy from the trenches, when you’re in the thick of things and you’re juggling so many different things.
Interview by Octavia Goredema @OctaviaGoredema