As an experienced communications professional, Chouna Lomponda values both image and identity. She’s a living example of someone who balances the two, devoting time to building her clients’ reputation as much as encouraging individuals’ personality, especially women, while still taking care of her own image and personal aspiration.
Like a chameleon, Chouna has, in the course of her fifteen-year career, experienced many colourful facets of professional communication, adapting her skills set to different environments. From her early years in the media – with the printed press, a regional TV channel Télé Bruxelles, a community TV channel Télé Matonge and a BBC radio channel – then communications manager for private companies, including multinational Heineken, Political Communication Consultant of a Ministerial Cabinet in Congo and communications consultant for artists, and nowadays Spokesperson and Public Relations Officer for the Jewish Museum of Belgium; she likes to take up challenges, and explore new ground. When asked about her rich and diverse experience, she responds: “I love being where I’m not expected. And when I want something, I give myself the means to get it.”
On top of her communicational expertise, she has carved extra positions for herself as a media consultant, a radio columnist, a keynote speaker and also an advocate for women’s self-confidence and leadership development, participating in many talks to meet women of all ages and backgrounds to discuss the perception of “a woman of influence”.
On January 30th 2016, she was awarded the Feminine Action Award in the communication category by the African Women’s League for the quality of her career in supporting both non-profit organizations and brands to develop their public image, addressing the new challenges and new approaches to present day communication.
Her portrait would not be fully drawn without also mentioning the four beautiful boys she raises on her own. It is clear that just this responsibility in her life has contributed tremendously to her decision to make the most of her determined nature.
How have these several changes of path occurred in your life?
These changes always came at moments where things happened in my personal life that made the change necessary. It was never an easy situation. When I came back to live in Belgium after years in Africa, I had to reorganize my life and take the time to rebuild a network that had not seen me for quite a long time.
How do you define yourself today?
As a happy woman who comes from far away and has known how to start anew. As a Belgian of Congolese origin. As a mother. As a communication professional. And, somehow, as a “superwoman” too. Today’s society makes us, women, become “superwomen” because we have to ensure on all fronts. Nowadays, we expect from a woman; excellence at work, perfect maintenance of her household, dedication to her family and also great preservation of her beauty and her looks.
“A woman of influence is not the monopoly of a certain elite.” – Chouna Lomponda
What are your views on activism? And which issues are close to your heart?
For me it is not so much about engagement towards a cause as about duty which we all have towards society and each other. There are two causes that are very close to my heart: building women’s self-confidence and creating a supportive group for victims of terror attacks.
Through my already fifteen-year professional experience, I have come to notice that women are so full of doubts and still do not access certain job positions, not so much because they are denied them anymore but because doubt and lack of self-confidence prevent them from seizing such opportunities. A woman of influence is not the monopoly of a certain elite. We often don’t realize that one can have influence, even at his/her level, thanks to courage and audacity to do things. Sometimes, unexpected little actions have a big and astonishing repercussion. Therefore, I’m thinking about setting up women’s academies that would coach women in building their self-confidence through different workshops.
In 2014, I experienced a terrorist attack at my workplace at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels. Knowing what it is to go through such a horrific experience, I would like to set up structures that would help other victims, not so much with a psychological support but rather with a “get-together” place, not to remain in the darkness of these barbaric actions, but to go through it with dialogue and sharing.
Do you have any role models?
Michelle Obama. Not as the “wife of” but for her personal commitments. Whether it is by engaging with the Red Cross for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, supporting the veterans or by the example she set: raised in a modest family but managing to access a good professional position, in a country where black women are not expected to succeed, thanks to her serious studies. I also admire that, during her time as a First Lady, she was able to exist as an individual and remain authentic.
I also admire The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, because having worked in a political cabinet, I know what it costs a person to work in this field. And it takes a strong character for her to succeed politically and be this international figure without changing anything in her looks and personality, despite the pressure and criticism.
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou
What’s next for you?
I’m currently organizing conferences on “How to communicate your cultural project”, the next step is “e-Reputation”, in Belgium and abroad. Both private consulting and training versions of these talks are also available. And I hope to continue to develop this aspect of my work, as I would be happy to share my knowledge with more people.
In October, I will be Keynote Speaker as part of Be Museum, the International Network for Museum Innovation.
In addition, we are currently finalizing the preparation of “Brussels: Terre d’Accueil?“, a major exhibition on immigration issues, to be taking place at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels this autumn.
More news to come on the subject in Voice Venue soon.
Photos – Vaya Sigmas
Stylism – Rosy Sambwa
Make-up – Tamiim Beauty
Hair – Melting Pot Hair & Body