JCI Journey: How Célestine Created Her Own Opportunities

JCI Journey: How Célestine Created Her Own Opportunities

February 3, 2018 2:57 pm Published by 1 Comment

As you’d probably expect from our 2018 motto, ‘Be a World Changer,’ Junior Chamber International (JCI) UK is filled with ambitious and accomplished young professionals. Therefore, we’re keen to showcase the ‘JCI Journeys‘ of our fantastic members.

For this blog, we’re delighted to feature the amazing achievements of Célestine Onomo.

Hello! Could you introduce yourself?

Hi! My name is Célestine. I’m 28 years old, I’m currently employed as a Marketing Manager and I’ve been a JCI Southampton member since December 2014. So far, my roles include: JCI Southampton’s 2015 Marketing Director, 2016 President and 2017 Immediate Past President. This year, I’m JCI UK’s Marketing Director.

Can you tell us about the opportunities you’ve gained from JCI?

I sure can. I’ll try to break it down so you don’t feel like you’re reading an essay!

Local Opportunities

The most significant opportunity was probably being Local President. It was not meant to be my year, but after consulting the team of Directors, I decided to run for the position – which was an incredible experience.

International Opportunities

With JCI you can meet like-minded people from across the globe. I’ve visited countries such as Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Malta, Estonia, Finland, Canada and Switzerland. The internationalisation can be as big as you want to make it – or should I say, as big as your wallet allows you to! However, there are lots of bursaries available for new members.

JCI has so many international events, such as World Congress, European Conference, JCI Small Talk (a cultural exchange programme with members from Malta, Jordan, Estonia, Morocco and Italy) and ‘Twinning Weekends.’ As well as frequently visiting each other’s city, twinned chambers tend to have strong relationships.

Whilst attending the above events, I pushed the experience a little bit further (I do like a good challenge – and after all, we are here to grow). Last year I applied to become a trainer at the JCI European Conference in Basel, Switzerland. Funnily enough, I submitted 2 course requests, thinking if I’m lucky, I’ll get one…to my surprise, both of my courses were accepted! I was proud to be one of the few JCI UK members to have trained at an international level. And because that wasn’t enough, I got in touch with JCI HQ to ask if I could host a Morning Show (energizing sessions). After a few emails, I was offered the opportunity to co-run a Morning Show with Keira Keogh, one of my closest JCI friends. I had never hosted a show in front of people before. Gala Dinners, yes. A Morning Show, no. It was a great experience because I’d pushed myself out of my comfort zone. The encouragement I received from the UK members and senators was great (Barry and Sue Miller acting as ‘proud parents’ melted my heart). If you’d like more details about any of these points, feel free to message me as I could write chapters about my global experiences!

Business

Thanks to a past JCI Southampton President and a Past JCI UK President (cough cough, Michael Steel), our chamber was granted a seat at the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce’s business board. After reconnecting with the Chamber, I was technically the youngest member on their business board, getting involved in local and regional matters. Thanks to this partnership, I was offered a senior role in marketing and business development.

I joined another business group that contacted JCI UK: the Young Leader UK (YLUK) run by the former American Ambassador Mr Matthew Barzun. Attending the 4th of July Commemoration at the ambassador residence was a fantastic opportunity. There were over 3,000 attendees –  including 4 JCI members! I also had the opportunity to meet Barack Obama. Unfortunately, I never made on top of the waiting list…but how many people in the UK have had that chance?

Community

When I was JCI Southampton’s President, I marshalled for the local Half Marathon and raised funds in supermarkets. It wasn’t easy because you can meet the meanest people. However, you also meet the nicest people, who thank you for supporting a cause that has helped them or their family. In 2016, we raised a total of £1,769 for No Limits, which we were extremely proud of.

For the past 2 years, I’ve mentored students at Southampton Solent University, supporting and preparing them to enter the job market. Seeing your mentees grow in confidence is a wonderful experience.

I’ve also been invited by the Mayor of Southampton to celebrate the World Award that I won within JCI UK. This was a lovely afternoon tea – and I got to sit in the same chair as the Queen of England!

Social

I have met some amazing people in JCI and many have become good friends – including a few ‘friend soul mates.’ In fact, my Maltese friend and I have shared a room for all the JCI countries I’ve visited (expect for Belgium!). I’ve also shared lots of success and happy memories with my JCI friends.

My best memories were at World Congress 2016 in Canada. We had a quadruple room – 1 of of us was running for the European Development Council, 2 of us were competing for the ‘Best Debater’ title and I nominated for ‘Most Outstanding New Member in the World’ award. Fortunately, all of us achieved our goals and we were able to celebrate our successes together.

As a JCI member, you can also expect to attend many Gala Dinners, which are great opportunities to increase your social circle…and your wardrobe! I’ve never had so many cocktails dresses since I joined JCI.

Training

I’ve attended all the JCI UK Academies (apart from Marketing, because it’s my day-to-day job!). I graduated from LEAP (Leadership Excellence in Action Program), Public Speaking Academy and Training Academy. After undertaking those courses, I became myself a trainer for LEAP, Marketing Academy and 2 of my own courses at European Level. In my year as Local President, I also qualified and became an official JCI Trainer. The personal development sessions have also helped me become more confident when talking in public.

Personal Thoughts

I’ve been offered fantastic development opportunities, but most importantly I’ve created a lot of opportunities for myself. By choosing to become a member, I’ve taken control of the ‘future me’ and decided that sitting on a sofa waiting for things to happen was never my style.

Any advice for new members?

Don’t just wait for things to come your way because you’ll be missing out. Ask questions. Ask yourself what you want to achieve, learn more about what JCI can bring you and then create your own challenges and make your own decisions 😄

Célestine, JCI UK Marketing Director 2018


Inspired by Célestine’s JCI Journey?

For only £10 per month (£6 for full-time students) you can also get involved with our incredible development opportunities. Sign up for membership here or search for your nearest chamber via our handy directory.

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This post was written by Celestine Onomo Onomo

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