LONDON — The Xec. Leadership Scheme for UK-based Black, Asian, mixed race and ethnic minority PR and communications professionals has announced the candidates selected for the second year of the programme.

BME PR Pros developed The Xec. with the aim of creating the next generation of BME leaders and to increase boardroom diversity in client communications teams and in PR agencies. The scheme is supported by Google UK, and delivered in partnership with PRovoke Media and the CIPR.

The 12 candidates for the next round of the programme, which starts today and runs to June next year, were selected after a rigorous application and interview process:

- Juanita Bawagan, communications manager, the Institute of Cancer Research
- Selena Dhanak, associate director, global communications, Organon
- Lornette Harley, account director, MSL UK
- Mahalia Johnson, global communications strategy manager, Stuart
- Gemma Kappala-Ramsamy, head of media and public affairs, London Councils
- Eduvie Martin, group internal communications manager, BAT
- Jayna Mistry, PR lead, Omnipresent
- Shanil Nayee, account director, Harvard
- Níkẹ Onakoya, PR consultant
- Ernest Opoku, marketing manager, Furnitubes
- Malini Parkash, senior consultant, Blurred
- Shamina Peerboccus, associate director, Tyto

BME PR Pros and Blueprinted founder and CEO Elizabeth Bananuka said: “After a successful first year, I’m thrilled to bring The Xec. back bigger with more experts and more places for talented pros. This year’s cohort, as with the class of ’22, are a diverse, exciting, and talented group who we believe have what it takes to be great leaders and change our industry for the better.

“I am grateful to our generous partners Google UK, PRovoke Media and the CIPR for making it possible for The Xec. to exist and to exist as a free course. And, along with our tutors, presenters, and mentors, I cannot thank them enough for rooting for talented BME PR and comms pros to get the careers they deserve.”

The Xec. leadership scheme is a 10-month long course encompassing 17 training days (including with the PRovoke Media team and a special Google Day), 12 masterclasses and 13 ‘My Career’ talks, delivered by a diverse range of industry leaders including award-winning creatives, comms directors and agency owners from organisations including The Guardian, Blurred, Twitter, Diffusion PR, Fanclub PR, Manifest and Hope&Glory PR.

The cohort will also be allocated a BME PR Pros mentor for six months, create and host a podcast series, be invited to judge a CIPR award, receive complimentary CIPR membership for 12 months, and will be given £5,000 to create and launch a group campaign.

Google’s UK and Ireland communications and public affairs director Jen Jamie said: “It's a privilege to be supporting this amazing programme again and I'm excited to work with, and learn from, the next generation of The Xec. talent.”

Aside from the masterclasses, talks and training days, The Xec. course participants will have the opportunity to curate and present a special PRovoke Media event next year.

Arun Sudhaman, CEO and editor-in-chief, PRovoke Media, said the progress The Xec. had already made was “truly remarkable, particularly when you consider the years of institutional inaction and indifference that preceded its inception.

“This is exactly the kind of bold change that PRovoke Media is seeking to advance in the PR industry,” he said. “We couldn’t be more excited to continue supporting this ambitious programme, and we’re looking forward to seeing what we can learn from this year’s brilliant cohort.”

The Xec. mentors for the second year of the scheme are: Diffusion CEO and co-founder Daljit Bhurji; Wimbart founder and CEO Jessica Hope; Claire Johnson-Tusińska. Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices EMEA lead for strategic solutions, communication and public affairs; digital consultant Gabrielle Laine-Peters; Zeno’s European head of healthcare Avril Lee; Fanclub PR founder and MD Adrian Ma; Hachette UK’s director of group communications Doyel Maitra; brand communications and PR consultant Sophie Parker; Social’s head of client and business development Claire Quansah; Golin and Virgo health group commercial director Reesha Rajani; TippettPR & Social owner Karen Tippett; and Blurred consulting director Anisha Vikram Shah.