Alumni Alumni case studies Kwaku Aning Kwaku Aning We caught up with TBF alumni Kwaku Aning, who was recently promoted to Director at FTI Consulting. Kwaku undertook a degree at University of Nottingham, where he studied International Relations. He graduated in 2014 and then obtained a Master’s degree in Global Security from the University of Sheffield in 2015. Below Kwaku shares some insights into why he signed up to the Taylor Bennett Foundation, advice for young people coming into the industry, his current role, future aspirations and advice for the industry to encourage more diversity. How did you hear about the Taylor Bennett Foundation (TBF)? Whilst I was studying for my Master’s degree, one of my university friends joined the TBF training scheme in 2015 and recommended I look into PR as a career. I ended up going to a graduate insight evening ran by Edelman; after that evening, I was hooked and completely sold on the idea of building a career in PR. I haven’t looked back since. What year did you take part in our programme? March 2016 programme – I was sponsored by MHP and then went onto put the programme learnings into action on the FTI Consulting Grad programme. What happened when you left the PR Training programme? During my MHP sponsored programme, I was fortunate enough to secure a two-month internship in their Corporate Affairs team. A week or two into my internship, I was offered two full-time roles: one at FTI Consulting and another at Golin. I joined FTI on the graduate scheme in September 2016, and looking back, it was the right decision. It has been an excellent place to develop my skills as a communications professional. Tell me about your current role. I have progressed from entry level at FTI Consulting and am now a Director in FTI Consulting’s Strategic Communications segment and work in the Telecoms, Media and Technology (TMT) team; working on corporate, financial and crisis communications briefs for several well-known brands and tech start-ups. What really excites you about your role? I work on a number of incredibly interesting clients, from household technology clients, to world-renowned telecoms giants to up and coming start-ups. The opportunities I’ve encountered include: The chance to build meaningful relationships with C-suite level executives, clients, journalists and colleagues as well as having an influence on a business’s purpose and direction, and how this is communicated to their stakeholders; and I also love the fact that in our role we become trusted advisors to CEO’s and heads of comms, and our work feels meaningful when you can see the tangible impact your advice is having on an organisation or in the media. At FTI, I also co-chair the BAME network and sit on the Company’s UK Diversity Ambassador board. I am also incredibly proud of the progress of FTI Consulting’s BAME network, which was set up in 2016, to amplify the voices of its Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic employees in London and to support our career development. In my role and time as co-chair, the Network has achieved numerous milestones including celebrating Lunar New Year and Diwali, sending out EMEA wide Ramadan guidelines and recognising Black History Month, all whilst seeing the Network grow exponentially. And outside office hours, I also play for FTI Consulting’s football team. What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the industry? Don’t underestimate the importance of having a varied/diverse network. Make sure you cultivate and nurture the relationships you make as you advance through your career. It is also important that you look at your strengths and weaknesses, and how you can improve on them. Lastly, think about the qualities that make you, “you” – what makes you stand out or a little different from other people. Don’t be scared to be different. The future I am excited about what my career trajectory and development opportunities look like at FTI Consulting, as I have so much more to do here; an in-house role in a sports organisation is a potential future career pathway for me too. I am fired up about inspiring and motivating Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic talent coming up behind me to back themselves and build amazing careers in inclusive employers like FTI Consulting. The Foundation programme enabled my career at FTI Consulting, and I am driven to ensure belonging and equity of opportunity for minority ethnic talent through programmes like these with organisations like FTI Consulting that are committed to positive change. What do you think the industry can do to encourage more diversity (particularly ethnic diversity). Set industry-wide diversity targets and call out companies (particularly large ones) that fail to meet them. The PRCA and CIPR need to do more to engage with Afro-Caribbean, Asian and other minority networks at Universities, schools and colleges up and down the country. The PR industry and industries around the City still aren’t doing enough – it’s a poor excuse to say that the talent pool is not out there and it feels like many organisations have (unsurprisingly) gone quiet again after the promises they made following the death of George Floyd.