When I applied for the OSISA (Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa) Scholarship to join the PDMM (Postgraduate Diploma in Media Management) Programme at Rhodes University in South Africa, I was working as a humble programme producer driven by a desire to experience the world, learn new things and, of course, take a break from the daily grind for a few months at the same time.
Fortunately, I was successful and I found myself on the Rhodes Campus in February of 2006 – six years after my first degree -- feeling a bit rusty in terms of class work but with high hopes and expectations.
For me, the PDMM was a wonderful experience. During this time, I rediscovered some things about myself such as the fact that I’m actually a nerd who loves to learn (Shh, don’t tell anyone or I lose my street cred!). I also found out that although I am mostly an introvert, I loved the practical classes where we had to develop ideas and present them to the class for critical input and debate. These activities taught me to develop and present my ideas and also to accept both positive and negative criticisms gracefully. We all know that (SPI director) Francis (Mdlongwa) is not at all shy to dispense his criticism, with that laugh of his! That said, the PDMM programme sharpened my leadership skills through helping me to build up my confidence and other abilities as a media manager.
It wasn’t all work though and during my time with the SPI, I made some lifelong friendships with some of my classmates. I can confidently say that I have a sister in Lesotho, another in Swaziland and a brother in Kenya. Not forgetting the home away from home that I consider the SPI to be to me.
It is during this time that TJ, as a brand, was born as that is what my Francis, Pete (Du Toit, SPI deputy director), classmates and friends would call me to get around pronouncing my name, Takondwa. To this day, TJ has stuck and I’m pretty sure that there are some people I work with today who have no idea what my actual name is!
When I returned home after completing my PDMM, my career took off. I was promoted to Regional Manager for Television Malawi within six months of my return. A year later I studied for my master’s degree in leadership and change management and I will honestly say that the PDMM course built a strong foundation for this.
Today I work as the Controller of Business Affairs at Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and I am responsible for marketing and brand management for both television and radio services. The job can be exhausting but it has its moments. When you see the results of your work and that of your team, you smile to yourself and think: yes, I did that. That makes all the exhaustion worth it. So for me, hard work is not an option; it’s necessary for success.
For me, the PDMM --through Francis and Pete -- is that critical first step that has enabled me to get this far and I will forever be grateful to OSISA for the scholarship opportunity.