The Xec. Leadership Scheme – the Class of 2023 revealed

Tuesday 30 August 2022; London, UK: Twelve communication professionals have been selected to go through The Xec. Leadership Scheme developed by BME PR Pros, supported by Google UK, and delivered in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and PRovoke Media.

The leadership scheme for UK-based Black, Asian, Mixed Race and Ethnic Minority (BME) PR and comms pros is the first of its kind and is entering its second year when the course opens on 1 September 2022.

The twelve candidates, who secured a place following a rigorous application and interview process, are:

  • 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

Bold and ambitious, The Xec. Leadership Scheme aims to create the next generation of BME leaders and to increase boardroom diversity client and agency-side.

Alastair McCapra, CIPR Chief Executive

Many congratulations to those who have made it onto this year’s Xec. Leadership programme. Embrace the opportunities ahead of you and I have no doubt you will get a huge amount from this unique experience and great success in the future. I am very pleased the CIPR can play its part in supporting you on this journey and hope this is only the beginning of your time with us. We look forward to working with you all.

Alastair McCapra, CIPR Chief Executive
Elizabeth Bananuka, Founder BME PR Pros, The Blueprint

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.

Elizabeth Bananuka, Founder BME PR Pros, The Blueprint

Launched in March 2021, and now in its second year, 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 all delivered by a diverse range of industry leaders including award-winning creatives, comms directors and agency owners from organisations including Google UK, The Guardian, Blurred, Twitter, Diffusion PR, Fanclub PR, Manifest and Hope&Glory PR. The Xec., running from September 2022 to July 2023, is worth 55 CIPR CPD points.

Aside from the masterclasses, talks and training days, The Xec. course participants will have the unique opportunity to curate and present a special PRovoke Media event to be broadcast in June 2023.

The Class of 2023 will:

  • 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
  • Be given £5,000 to create and launch a group campaign

The cohort will be mentored by industry powerhouses: Daljit Bhurji (CEO & Co-Founder, Diffusion); Jessica Hope (Founder & CEO, Wimbart); Claire Johnson-Tusińska (Regional Leader, Strategic Solutions Communication & Public Affairs EMEA, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices); Gabrielle Laine-Peters (Digital Consultant); Avril Lee (Head of Healthcare Europe, Zeno Group, Chair CIPR Diversity & Inclusion Network); Adrian Ma (Founder & Managing Director, Fanclub PR); Doyel Maitra (Director of Group Communications & Board member, Hachette UK); Sophie Parker (Brand Communications & PR Consultant); Claire Quansah (Head of Client & Business Development, Social); Reesha Rajani (Group Commercial Director, GOLIN & Virgo Health); Karen Tippett (Owner, TippettPR & Social); and Anisha Vikram Shah (Consulting Director, Blurred)

Profile interviews with the cohort are available on


About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). 

Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the world's only Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas with nearly 10,000 members.

The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR)