Diane Mouaha joined the StarNews Mobile team five years ago. In that time, she has grown quickly from an entry-level market researcher to a country manager. She says the opportunities for career growth at StarNews are vast, and her journey within the company is something many of her colleagues can achieve with hard work and determination. She sees the company provide an important and supportive role for creative thinkers like herself, and she thinks StarNews will encourage the great aspirations of talented, young Africans all over the continent.
We spoke with Diane about her first five years at StarNews and her expectations for the next five.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. What experience do you bring to StarNews Mobile?
My experiences are very vast from different industries. The majority of my experience is in computer science. Before joining StarNews Mobile, I worked in the audiovisual industry. I was a production manager and I had my own company. But I also worked with a company in the oil industry. Very different from what I’m doing now!
What is your role at StarNews Mobile?
I am currently a Country Manager in Cameroon. Originally I was Country Manager in Congo, but with the explosive growth we were seeing in Cameroon, I switched to help manage this growth.
A Country Manager oversees the important relationships we have with service providers and operators, as well as internal company affairs like commercial marketing, animation of the service, accounting, and more. I build quarterly marketing campaigns for the company, come up with creative ideas to promote StarNews mobile to the Cameroonian market, and I help implement the StarNews Urban Hit Show in partnership with Orange. It’s a lot of work from Monday to Sunday! But I enjoy it.
When did you join StarNews and why?
I have been part of the StarNews team for 5 years. How I joined the team is a unique story. At the time, I was experiencing some difficulties in life. I met StarNews CEO Guy Kamgaing by chance. At the time I had no job and was looking for one. I had just had an accident where I was shot twice in the leg during a hold up at a local supermarket. Things were very difficult. It was a very hard period in my life.
I was introduced to Guy around that time. He was looking for a person to join the team in market research. He took a chance on me; I had no formal education in market research, but he saw my potential and offered me a job. That’s how I started with the company. After a year, he saw I had more capacity and gave me more responsibilities. The beginning was not very easy for us because the field was not prepared for StarNews. We struggled a lot. After two years, I was asked to become a manager in Cameroon.
What challenges have you faced and overcome?
There are a lot of challenges. Language barriers are one challenge because my first language is French but we do business in both French and English. But language barriers are good because it pushes me to improve my English even though it is difficult.
From a company perspective, when I started with Guy, we were small. Since then, we have grown so quickly and there are more people, more characters to deal with. It’s not very easy to manage such a quick growth of the company. But it offers great opportunities; I’m excited to learn from the new people who join the company. For example, we now have a Marketing Manager, Ollia Njibaloh, with who I can share my ideas. Before Ollia we were doing all that alone. We share, we collaborate with François Nottrelet, the new Head of Content, on how to improve. It’s very fast pace and I like it because you learn something new every day.
What are your thoughts on how StarNews was introduced in Cameroon?
Up to now, the success of the business in Cameroon comes mainly from the commitment of the telecommunication partners. We are not really related directly with the public right now. The telecom partners push the service by different channels and use subscribers to introduce the service.
Recently, though, we have been working on setting up a strategy to meet a large public by TV, radio, billboard, and so on. It’s just the beginning. We are working with subscribers of telecom partners. We have the target to meet a large public.
Where do you see StarNews in the next 5 years?
It will be a big company because I think Guy has a very precise view of what we will become and how to move forward. I think the strategy on which we are working with local TV channels, with radio, and digital, will be a huge success, and in the next few years, StarNews will become an opportunity for all young Africans who want to monetize their content. It will have a great impact on the next generation in Africa.
StarNews had a great impact on me personally. My own experience with Guy is special because Guy is the only person who gave me a chance to prove what I am able to do, and he continues to do so. Five years ago, I was working without any college degree and Guy still saw I had something to offer. Gradually, he gave me more and more responsibilities and I was able to learn and grow with StarNews. And now, because of my success with StarNews, I was able to go back to school and get my master’s degree.
Why is StarNews important to Africa?
It’s important for us to show the world that African people can create something useful, but it also helps them make money when they have no job or need additional income. People can showcase their talents in ways in which traditional schooling doesn’t recognize. The main opportunity is to give young, talented people in Africa a platform and a voice. If you have a strong will to succeed, you can join StarNews to learn and introduce yourself to the world and grow tomorrow.
StarNews brought me that view of life. I know that if I ever left StarNews in the future, my experience will be very useful for me. StarNews created a woman who improved her life and can live with dignity. It brings me a lot of pride to see how my contributions have impacted the company. The company culture is really wonderful. Every day you have the opportunity to share your idea and your idea is taken into consideration. It’s very satisfying and rewarding.
Is StarNews different from other companies in Cameroon?
Yes, definitely! It is different from the culture of how we work. Your work is based on your target. Your work is based on your competency. What are you able to do? At StarNews you can do it.
Plus, StarNews is always looking for new ideas to improve the service, to make the service more amazing. It’s a great way to work. You have the freedom to work your way. You’re not boxed into a specific role and you have the freedom to express your ideas the way you want. The management focuses on what you’re able to bring to the table.
Where do you see yourself within the company as StarNews grows? 5 to 10 years?
In the next 5 years, I want to be in a position that plays a key role when we launch in new countries. It would be similar to a Country Manager, but on a larger scale where I am more of a Country Development Manager and I draw the plan for new country launches and acquisitions.
In the next 10 years, I think I will open my own service [laughs]. Because I have had a service idea in my mind for many years now and I am taking my time to develop the idea. I think I will propose that idea to Guy and see what happens.