In 2014, Jessica Hope founded Wimbart, a public relations company with a heavy emphasis on the tech and start-up sectors in Africa and emerging markets. Since then, she has built an impressive clientele including Andela, IROKO, Luno, 54gene, Carbon, and many others. In this interview, Jessica walks us through her work routines and how she stays productive.
Current role: Founder and Managing Director of Wimbart
Location: London, England
Current computer: MacBook Pro
Current mobile device: iPhone XR
Describe how you work in one word: Flamboyantly
Tell us briefly about how you started out your career and how you got where you are today
After graduating from the University of Manchester in 2005 with a Masters in Religion & Political Life, I worked as a journalist and magazine editor before moving into an entry-level PR job. In fact, I met and worked for Jason Njoku in Manchester. He ran a student magazine and I was the editor.
After working in a number of other communications roles, including the Natural History Museum and the Jewish Museum in London, I then ended up heading up PR and communications for IROKO when Jason raised his Series A back in 2012 — and that’s how I’m here today.
We worked together to build the IROKO brand and make Nigerian tech part of the wider international narrative. It was Jason who encouraged me to set up my own PR company, because he saw that I had built a name for myself in a niche market — African tech, and saw a way for me to build a business around it.
Walk us through a recent workday
No two days are the same. Today, I was up at 6 a.m. and headed to the BBC in London, with a client who was being filmed for a BBC World Business show. Then I went back to the Wimbart office — catching up on emails, Slack and Whatsapp messages on the way.
As soon as I got back to the office, it was time for our daily stand-up team meeting, where the entire team discusses priorities for the day. We try and keep these meetings to a ten-minute maximum. After that, today, like most days, I don’t move much from my desk; client emails, writing/issuing out press releases, editing and signing-off copy, taking client or new business calls.
I leave work at 4 p.m. most days, go and pick up my son and do family time, and then pick up on work again later on in the evening, from about 8 p.m., which works well with my US-based clients.
Quite a lot of our clients or people within our network pass through London at some point, and so we host a lot of people in the offices for meetings or catch-ups. I love that part of my job — the social part. I try not to leave the office too much because we’re so busy, however, when I’m travelling for business there’s no semblance of structure and I’ll usually be on the road all day.
What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?
Whilst I can’t live without my iPhone, I also don’t like using it to write long format emails or copy; nothing complex. I need my MacBook to sit and think and write properly. I also rely on Whatsapp, Slack and Telegram to keep in contact with my team, clients and journalists.
What’s your favourite shortcut or hack?
I’m still to find it!
What task do you not like to do but have to do?
Admin. I’m terrible at it. But as the company grows, I am having to get better at it.
How do you keep track of what you have to do?
Lists – a lot of them! Written, mostly, in my notebook. My team also have learned to be very good at “nudging” me on things I have to keep up with – they are my best way of keeping track of things.
How do you recharge or take a break?
My son takes up a lot of time and I try and switch off from work as much as possible when I’m with him. I tend to make sure I take a week off at Christmas to recharge – I find it’s the only time of year that my clients are [mostly] off as well, so I don’t have to check in on emails so much. But generally, I find it hard to switch off.
What do you enjoy or spend time doing besides work?
Travel – which is almost always linked to work these days. I try and see my friends as much as possible, but as people get busier with careers/families, it’s pretty tough to keep up with everyone. I think when you run your own business though, your work is always in the back of your mind, even during down time.
What are you currently reading, watching or listening to, or what do you recommend?
I listen to a lot of Stevie Wonder. And Beyonce. But my playlists are frantic and all over the place. In terms of books, I’m reading The Prosperity Paradox, by Clayton M. Christensen, which was gifted to me by a colleague. It’s a great read so far.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“You have to do this” — Jason Njoku, when I said I didn’t think I could set up and run a business
What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?
How to scale my business
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Seni Sulyman of Andela, Adewale Yusuf of Techpoint
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