Adelaide MBA graduate Dianne Janes is set to touch down in South Sudan next month following her appointment as the Country Director for BBC Media Action – the development arm of the BBC.
Ms Janes, who will finish up as the General Manager and Executive Officer of the Adelaide University Union within the next month, said while it is easy for people to look at South Sudan and be overwhelmed by the issues the country is facing, she prefers to see “a set of opportunities both for the people of South Sudan and those of us who are working with them”.
As the Country Director of BBC Media Action, Ms Janes will develop and execute national radio projects which focus on issues such as women’s and maternal health; the importance of educating girls; as well as other development issues that will help improve the lives of the people of South Sudan.
Ms Janes completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts and Masters in International Politics before being first introduced to South Sudan in 2010 when she took up a position as a Communications and Policy Specialist with the United Nations.
“I worked in South Sudan during the time that they held a referendum and then declared independence from Sudan and became a country. There was a huge amount of hope in South Sudan at that time,” Ms Janes said.
“They were finally breaking free and becoming a new country. Since then they have really suffered and had an internal civil war and things have gone a bit backwards.
“But they have settled down again in to a relatively peaceful state and things are starting to look up again. I am always keen to help move that forward again as much as I can.”
During her time with the UN, Ms Janes combined her love for film and media with her interest in international politics to share the stories of many people across South Sudan and the wider Sub-Saharan region.
While she admits she is both a little bit nervous and excited about the upcoming opportunity, she believes her experience working across management, policy and the media has placed her in good stead for any challenges she may face.
Ms Janes’ initial passion for film and media set the foundation for her career. After many years working as a post-production executive at Digital Pictures in Melbourne, she headed to Phnom Penh in Cambodia, where she worked first as a television producer with the Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia. She then worked as a freelance journalists and consultant, filing stories as an Arts Correspondent for an English-language daily newspaper and consulting for bodies such as the Cambodian Centre For Human Rights where she analysed Cambodia’s human rights NGOs and their use of social media.
While Ms Janes said it was these experiences abroad that sparked her interest in international relations and policy, it wasn’t until she moved to Adelaide in 2012 that she discovered radio and how effective it is in engaging communities and giving people a voice through the media.
“I think my immediate interests were broadened and my studies have now helped to support my career in very different areas,” she said.
Since returning from South Sudan following the referendum, Ms Janes has further developed her management and media skills as the Acting General Manager at Radio Adelaide and later as the General Manager at the Adelaide University Union while completing the Adelaide MBA.