WINner’s stories: How WIN re-energized and shaped my journalism career

By Gloria Laker Aciro Adiiki 

For me, participating in the 2020 Women In News (WIN) Leadership Accelerator programme came as a breakthrough in my professional development and revamping our media organization when my team and I were struggling with the establishment of a new Refugee Media project we had just formed.

Like any other news organizations, the beginning is always very challenging and considering the fact that we simply began as volunteer reporters. This was further compounded by the emergency restrictions imposed in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak, a global pandemic that subsequent national lockdown.

So when I received the invitation, I quickly realized this was a great opportunity to shoot my media career by re-strategizing my goals and learning new management skills to move the organization to the next level.

Pertaining to my career route the invite was also timely because I was anticipating to quit the media profession I had served for many years. thanks to WIN I made a U-turn. WIN literally held my hand and lifted me back, an interesting experience and also provided a strong learning platform for me and a boost to our blossoming media organization. Since its formation our voluntary refugee media has been using a free limited blog without a permanent editor. 

So after only two coaching sessions my coach Jackie Asiimwe tasked me to work around my profession to broaden my work and allocate responsibilities. I took this task hands-on and by the third coaching session I moved our organization from a free blog to a fully-paid news website.

On 1 June 2020 we formally launched this news website. Shortly after I got a permanent editor who is supporting my team in content refining, and this development has made my work more achievable. I attribute this landmark step to Jackie and the impact of her coaching session which to me was a key highlight aspect of the WIN program. As I complete the course, our news website has improved in terms of variety, range and comprehensiveness of news reporting. As a result of this vibrancy we’re are now gaining an increasing local and international audience than before WIN.

Therefore, the new career route I took with WIN ‘is comparable to looking a lost piece of gold’

Personally, picking from Barbra Kaija’s experience, I have learnt to draw my schedule to cover work and family without compromising the other.

What I enjoyed most are the one-on-one coaching sessions which has positively impacted on my career and organization at large. The numerous assignments kept me occupied throughout the course hence I never felt the redundancy that was rife with the lockdown.

Then came an interesting out-door activity for our group-the painting exercise coach Jackie initiated at the Art Ban in Kampala. This unique experience provided an interval from the intense and tight schedule I had been engrossed in. Indeed, this activity was a refreshing break that enabled me to restore my energy to complete my course.

I also met new people from the journalism fraternity I’m hoping to collaborate with. Overall, the well-rounded course package, work and interacting with great trainers during the coaching session pulled me up to explore and discover my myself. Thus it provided a springboard to re-strategize my life and career.

Personally, I have discovered that I am an achiever, hardworking and also a team builder. 

Enrolling for this course under the lockdown introduced me to a new digital world with many opportunities to explore. Yes, I had distractions due to family demands but came with best experience because the extra time I would have spent in traffic I have balanced it between work, family and WIN program.

Going forward, and fresh from the WIN leadership career accelerator program I will apply what I have learnt in my journalism work and share with my young professional peers. Borrowing from Barbra Kaija’s I will “step out and take on tough assignments, while applying her ways of addressing challenges by “explaining the importance of the media product to the team I lead and get them to appreciare the product and they will work together to promote the organization’s goals”. 

Finally, I am taking with me and employing the six steps of success, always showing up, using voices, looking up, teaming up, never giving up and lifting up others. With this, I can confidently now say my WIN experience has been deeply impacting and meaningful. Thanks to Women in News and the World Association on Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

Gloria Laker Aciro-Adiiki is a Ugandan award-winning journalist and the head of the Refugee and Migration Media Network.

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