If you asked this time six years ago what 'public relations' was or what a PR professional did, I'd probably look at you as cluelessly as a goldfish on a leash in a spaceship.
I was the typical example of a student who had marginal knowledge of the type of job I wanted to do after graduation.
I studied English language, literacy & communications at Manchester University and often idolised investment bankers and finance leaders as the most respected in business.
However, over a short period of time and due to some essential work experience this was all about to change.
In the summer of 2012 I secured a position as a trainee on the corporate and financial PR scheme run by the Taylor Bennett Foundation, in conjunction with Brunswick Group.
The traineeship exposed me to a brand-new world, which I never even knew existed, and equipped me with vital skills.
The 10-week communications scheme was especially designed for BAME graduates, to introduce them to the PR industry, and offers industry experience and networking opportunities.
As for the traineeship, I can only compare it to an episode of The Apprentice; we were challenged daily with difficult scenarios and issues that put us in the PR adviser hot seat.
The foundation provided me with a golden opportunity and I am very grateful for everything it has done to improve diversity in the PR industry.
Following this, I secured a role at FTI Consulting, where I was appointed as a consultant working within the corporate property team, and rose to become a senior consultant.
There are still pockets of BAME candidates who just don’t feel they can make it or even succeed in the industry and that needs to change.
Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah, senior associate at CNC – Communications and Network Consulting
It was a steep but enjoyable learning curve and I had to pick things up very quickly, working within a bright senior team.
However, the agency also changed my perceptions of corporate communications and made me believe in myself and what I could achieve, regardless of my background.
I was actually the first Taylor Bennett Foundation alumni to join the firm and since joining, the strategic communications division has hired at least another four alumni from the programme.
I have recently joined another agency as a senior associate. I was very impressed by the company’s work and track record as advisers.
However, what surprised me most was the potential that all the senior management saw in me throughout the interview process.
This automatically reassured me that regardless of where I was coming from, there was a place for me and that I could succeed with hard work and determination.
There are organisations who are tackling the issue and realise the industry does need to be diverse.
However, I do think that there is some progress to be made and for the industry as a whole.
It is my dream to mention PR in a dinner conversation with those from a similar background and have engaging conversation about the industry.
There are still pockets of BAME candidates who just don’t feel they can make it or succeed in the industry and that needs to change.
Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah is a senior associate at CNC – Communications and Network Consulting