Manager Marketing and Communication • NQA, Namibia
“I built my career on sheer hard work, fully immersing myself in my work and consistently delivering 100% to everything I do ”
Catherine Shipushu is a marketing and communication manager at NQA (Namibia Qualification Authority) and she has a side hustle Azania Communications. With extensive industry experience in the media and communications field, she has worked as a communications professional at some of Namibia’s biggest firms and this is where she developed her love for building and managing brands. Her company helps clients create strong, authentic and inspiring brands. Her aim is to build her company into a formidable empire with a talented team of marketing, public relations, digital and creative specialists. Read the interview below to find out more about how she stays on top of her game at her day job while building her empire.
1. Early in your career, you started at the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and you moved up the corporate ranks to becoming a television producer and director, please could you expand on how you developed your career to that level?
There’s no secret formula whatsoever. I built my career on sheer hard work, fully immersing myself in my work and consistently delivering 100% to everything I do. I also have a strong work ethic, value excellence and don’t believe in doing things in half-measures. So, when I show up, I’m fully present. Furthermore, I’ve learned early on in life that everything I do is a reflection of me, and so I believe that I owe it to myself to always put my best foot forward.
2. You are a firm believer of lifelong learning, which is reflected by the number qualifications you have acquired to date, how has this knowledge assisted in growing your career?
Studying not only nourishes my mind but also keeps me abreast of all developments in the very fluid media space. It has also enabled me to continually sharpen my skills to ensure alignment to the various roles I’ve held. For instance, when I got into management, I decided to do my MBA with specific focus on leadership because I needed to acquire the appropriate skills to match the level I was operating at.
Besides my qualifications, I also believe that with the right mind set, we can achieve all our goals and dreams. Growing a career, much like running a business, requires unshakable mental strength. On either journey you will be faced with challenges and days that feel like the end of the world, and what has gotten me through those trying times is a strong mental attitude and of course my spirituality which has always been an anchor in my life.
3. You recently launched your empowerment masterclasses, what is the aim of this initiative and how do you see it impacting the country?
Through my journey, I’ve learned that you cannot win alone and that we all need support at one point. I would not be where I am today without the work and support of those who came before me. I therefore believe I have a responsibility to use my talents and influence to uplift and support others, especially women, as they strive to fulfill their dreams and ultimately make their own impact in the world. That’s the purpose of my master classes, to create a nurturing space where we focus on diverse empowering topics ranging from personal branding, living purpose-led lives to business coaching.
4. As founder of Azania Communications, what is the mission of the business and what services does the business offer?
Azania Communications is an Integrated Marketing Communications boutique agency specializing in branding, design, strategic communication and events management. I prefer to work with small business owners and individuals and help them to build strong, authentic brands that stand out for the right reasons. Initially this business was primarily about leveraging my skills and experience to do what I love in my spare time. Along the way, I realized that there is a need for what I know so I decided to be bold enough to monetize my knowledge. I’m also introducing a Personal Branding coaching service specifically to work with individuals who want to position themselves better in order to attract the right opportunities, advance their careers or grow their businesses.
5. Starting a business while having a full time job is hard, how do you manage to be fully engaged at work and at the same time work on Azania Communications?
I think that running a business is not necessarily designed to be easy, so balancing a side project with a full time job is even harder. For me essentially it has been about having the integrity to completely separate the two. When I’m at work during the day, I’m fully present and focused on helping the organisation deliver on its statutory obligations. I am fully aware that there are thousands of people who depend on me doing my job well in order to enhance their lives and those of their families, and I don’t take that responsibility lightly. But once I get home and over weekends, I get into mogul mode and use all available time to work on my business – so there are loads of long nights and working weekends. It’s a fine balance, but one that is absolutely essential and I’m confident that after all the teething problems, I have now mastered it.
6. As a leader in the communications space, what three items should professionals in the communication industry do NOW to fast track their career growth?
Read, feed your mind and enhance your knowledge in the space you’re working in and the world around you.
Self-mastery is essential; know yourself so that you can be assertive but still able to form strong relationships with your colleagues. Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s fine because we don’t go to work to make friends. However, remember that no one wins alone; you need others to share the journey with you. So it’s important to be able to work with different people towards a shared vision. Humility, respect and professionalism will take you far.
Be confident, know your worth and believe in your abilities. Self-doubt has killed off many careers – don’t let yours become another casualty. Here’s a bonus tip, there’s no shame in asking for help. It doesn’t diminish your value or knowledge. If anything, it makes you better and stronger.
7. What is the one thing you are guilty of that you do in your spare time?
I’ve learned not to feel guilty about doing things that I enjoy. In fact me-time is so important for me because it helps me to reflect on my journey and recharge my batteries so that I’m always in the best shape. So in my spare time I love to relax by indulging in binge-watching my favorite series, mostly cooking shows like Masterchef and Top Chef, reading and catching up on my beauty sleep. No matter what time of day, music is always there, in the background – it’s my saving grace.