At ESEI, we are tremendously proud of our students. And we have been lucky enough to welcome students from around the world, with different backgrounds, motivations and aspirations.
Today, we’d like to share with you the story of one of our current Master’s students, Wanjiku Mwenda. Wanjiku started her Master in Sports Management degree at ESEI in the fall of 2020. She has an extensive background in sports journalism, a fascinating life story and ambitious plans for the future. Let’s get to know her!
Building a career in sports journalism in Kenya
Wanjiku has always loved sports. As a child in Kenya, she often watched football matches with her father. And in high school, she tried every sport she could – including football, handball and volleyball. She dreamed of becoming a sports journalist and completed her BA in journalism at St Paul’s University in Limuru.
During her last year at university, Wanjiku joined a local radio station where she read sports news three times a day and hosted a three-hour show on Saturdays. While the job wasn’t paid, she put her heart and soul into it, walking long distances to stadiums and press conferences to gather stories for her reporting. After she left the radio station, she worked at the sports consultancy firm Michezo Afrika perfecting her writing and interviewing skills.
That’s when Wanjiku met a sports producer at Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), who invited her to do football analysis on his show. “Suddenly, I found myself as the only young woman in a group of older men, conducting live football analysis on national television,” she said.
This opportunity opened new doors for her. She was noticed by a pair of sports anchors working for K24 TV, another television channel in Kenya. They hired her as a sports reporter, and in just four months, she was promoted to sports anchor. She ended up working at K24 for over 8 years.
During her time at K24, Wanjiku was elected Organising Secretary of the Sports Journalists Association of Kenya. The association, a branch of AIPS Media, plays a crucial role in training young journalists and bringing together the sports journalism community in Kenya.
With these achievements, Wanjiku had risen to the top of sports journalism in her country.
From Kenyan TV to a classroom in Barcelona
Working as a sports journalist in Kenya – a country that’s famous for the incredible achievements of its elite athletes and its countless world records – Wanjiku had the opportunity to meet lots of high-profile sports personalities and get a clear understanding of the sports industry.
“I realised that there was something missing in terms of sports management,” she said. “When it comes to managing and branding elite athletes, my country has quite a lot to catch up on.”
According to Wanjiku, in a country of so many Olympic athletes, world champions and world records holders, talent and achievement often go underappreciated. “We are so used to winning that we sometimes take our athletes for granted,” she said.
With an aim to help bridge this gap, Wanjiku began thinking of another line of duty, one that involved sports management. This meant furthering her studies.
“I felt like I finally found my purpose. So at the beginning of January last year, I started researching schools,” she said.
Her search turned up a lot of different business schools around the world, and she narrowed it down to three: one in the Netherlands, one in the UK, and ESEI in Barcelona. After much consideration, she finally settled on ESEI. What tipped the scale for her was the module structure of ESEI’s Master in Sports Management course – as well as the location.
“I wanted to get a holistic view of sports management, and ESEI’s module structure is very wholesome. It talks about everything from managing elite athletes to sports ethics, new trends in sports and event organisation. Plus, in Barcelona, you’re connected to many different sports activities. That’s what I was looking for, to have all those things close at hand,” she said.
Attending the Valencia Marathon
When Wanjiku received her acceptance letter, she excitedly began preparing for her move to Barcelona. In the meantime, the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world and she – along with many of her coworkers – was laid off from her job at the TV station. While this was an unprecedented event, she chose to see it in a positive light: she had the freedom to move to Barcelona and begin her sports management studies.
Wanjiku is well-travelled, but she had never lived abroad before. Even though she arrived in Barcelona during an uncertain time characterised by periodic lockdowns, to her, the city was “a breath of fresh air.” She began taking her classes at ESEI in October and quickly made some new friends.
At the beginning of December, Wanjiku travelled to Valencia for the 2020 Valencia Marathon. “I had to go because I knew that our athletes would win,” she said. Indeed, Kenyan runners won three of the four races, breaking a world record in the process.
The athletes were happy to see a fellow Kenyan so far from home. “At the main press conference, the Kenyan athletes were struggling to express themselves in English. So I raised my hand and asked if I could interview them in Swahili. And the organisers said yes!” Wanjiku recounted. “You should’ve seen how the athlete’s faces lit up. Suddenly, they were eager to speak.”
So far, Wanjiku has really enjoyed her time in Spain and at ESEI. She’s looking forward to seeing what life has in store for her after graduation.
“I want to work at a global sports management or sport communication company – one that has invested in my country. I see myself as a regional director, someone who can be a global agency’s connection to Africa, to African athletes. I also want to be involved in events organisation, and help bridge the gap between organisation teams and the media. That’s my plan for now,” she said.
We’re very proud of you and wish you all the success in the world, Wanjiku!
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in sports management, too, have a look at our Master in Sports Management programme.