Former Capital FM presenter, model and beauty queen Pinky Ghelani has evolved into a professional speaker and mentor who is passionate about personal branding.
She recently let myNetwork in on her career journey, creating a successful brand, and the emerging frontiers in the media industry.
What is your most memorable career experience?
Winning Miss India Kenya in 2000. That was a remarkable milestone for me. Working at Capital FM was also humbling. I met and interacted with thousands of fans and listeners. It was unbelievable. I have also worked with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), creating awareness on the sticky issues surrounding the current influx of refugees in Africa. I am currently active in raising awareness on mental health issues in the country. I have been invited to speak to different audiences while doing mentorship. I have been privileged to meet my role models, which is no mean feat.
The media landscape has changed dramatically over the years. Your thoughts on this?
Social media is now a big deal. It allows you to grow your brand, and to reach diverse audiences. In mainstream media, we have editors or programme controllers who monitor and guide what you say and do, but there are no gatekeepers on social media. You should therefore carry yourself with dignity around that space, especially if you hope to build a respectable and admirable brand.
What can upcoming media personalities do to stand out from the rest?
What journalists report today can impact the future of all Kenyans. Journalists are the real influencers. They have the power to create the future that they wish for their children and grandchildren. For your career to be significant, you must stand up for the truth, and hold political, religious, community and business leaders to account.
What do you admire most about Kenyan youth?
They are witty and easy-going, but also extremely hard-working and talented. The biggest problem afflicting them, however, is a shortage of business and employment opportunities.
What is your view on unpaid internship?
If you can work without pay, do it! You may not get monetary gain, but you will be building a career. Getting one foot across the door is a step closer to your dream. I know there’s been a lot of polarising debate on this issue recently, which highlights the growing discontentment among young graduates. It is up to the government to invest more in our youth, so that they are not exploited by corporates.
You host live panel discussions on mental health every week. How did this happen?
My weekly forum is called ‘‘What Women Want’’. We focus on a wide range of topics such as relationships, finances, life skills, maternal health, public speaking and mental health. My aim is to empower and educate both men and women. We are so used to watching such discussions on TV that we sometimes forget the power of face to face interactions, and networking. We usually hold the discussions in informal settings so that attendees can meet new people and to learn from one another. It is also free.
Tell us about your recent TEDx talk.
My talk was about how we have lost our morals and self-respect as Kenyans, and how negatively this has affected us. The country ought to trace its footsteps, and embrace morality once more. I have done other talks on stage, mostly focusing on how to seize the opportunities available to us. My maiden TEDx talk was about being in and getting the most out of the present.
What insights would you offer young professionals based on your own experiences?
Above everything, you need to believe in yourself. The world is very competitive, but you only need to compete with yourself to truly succeed. I strongly believe in the journey of self-love. Once you discover who you are, no matter where you are in your life and career, everything becomes clearer. It may sound simple, but when you appreciate yourself, you build the confidence necessary to take on the challenges that life might throw at you.
What do you live for?
My family, myself and my career.
What’s the secret to creating a successful brand?
It starts with authenticity. You must be genuine in whatever you set out to create. The brand must also reflect your personality. This is the toughest part, but being consistent in what you offer to the market goes a long way in cementing your position. I once did a presentation on personal branding at Strathmore Business School, and that has since become my favourite subject to teach.
Has someone ever encouraged to pursue a cause you were not keen on?
Yes, I have been asked to try my hand at politics. But that arena is just not for me. However, I am determined to continue changing the way we conduct ourselves politically, but from the side lines.
What else do you do?
I am an active and enthusiastic yogi. I also lip-sync videos for local comedy artists, including Teacher Wanjiku and Eric Omondi. Laughter is the best therapy.