VENTURES AFRICA – Branding, communications, events planning and creative solutions all have one thing in common: Gloria Buckman Yankson. The young and talented Yankson is an award-winning event planning and brand communications professional and one of the brains behind PlanIt Ghana – one of Ghana’s most popular and fastest growing events firms.
PlanIt Ghana’s roots go back to the hills of Scotland in the United Kingdom. The indigenous firm began in Scotland in 2006, when Yankson and her husband, both Public Relations Professionals, began dreaming of starting their own Event Strategy and Brand Communications firm. After much thought, they finally laid out a plan and spent the next three years steadily preparing for the technical and business aspects of running a firm. Yankson recalls spending as much time as she could every day after work, reading everything she could find on professional event planning. “Our shelves filled up with books and magazines on the subject in no time.” Three years of preparation and one additional business partner later, PlanIt Ghana was born, deriving its name from the services they provided – all things ‘planning’.
The firm began officially in Ghana in 2009, fulfilling a long-held dream of ‘returning home’ for Yankson and her family. In the short time since arriving in Ghana, Gloria has earned herself the Young Creative Star of the Year Award in the Annual Global Professional Achievers (GPA) Gala 2011, beating out some of Ghana’s most renowned CEOs and Entrepreneurs. Again in 2012, Yankson and PlanIt Ghana were awarded the Efie Ne Efie (Home is Home) prize by the Ghana UK Based Achievement (GUBA) Awards, a prestigious annual awards ceremony recognising excellence and achievement in the British Ghanaian community and contributions to Ghanaians at home and abroad. Gloria’s journey to this stage has been one of extreme personal determination and zeal.
After studying at St. Rose’s Secondary School, Yankson obtained qualifications in public relations from the Ghana Insittute of Journalism, The London School of Public Relations and a Masters’ Degree in Public Relations from the University of Stirling in Scotland. For her, the experience she gained working in the industry for 8 years before starting PlanIt, was invaluable. Gloria spent time working with multinational brand such as Sky TV and Hilton Plc where she gained hands-on experience in event planning and design. She then spent close to four years in the Marketing Communications Team for Morgan Stanley, a job she thoroughly loved. “I don’t think you can get that kind of training and experience from sitting in any classroom”, she says.
Before joining PlanIt Ghana full-time, Gloria spent time working at Ghanaian real estate firm, DEVTRACO Limited, as the Director of Corporate Affairs and Marketing. In this position, Yankson truly made her mark. Just 27 years old at the time, she was the only female Director in the company’s top management team and acted as the voice of the company, spearheading the company’s marketing campaigns. Together with her team, they turned DEVTRACO into a household name and in the process bagged six awards, including the prestigious CNBC International Property Award – the premier real estate award globally. DEVTRACO is the first and only Ghanaian real estate company to win this award. Despite her incredible success, she stepped down in 2010 to focus on building the PlanIt brand.
For her, the corporate world was no longer challenging enough: “I felt restrained. And as the passion grew into an obsession, I felt more and more like my ideas were being locked up in a box. Not being able to build new and exciting ideas isn’t really my thing. So inadvertently, I suppose it was really about breaking free from the limitations.” Now, she is living her dream.
PlanIt is a full-service Event Production and Brand Communication services company that specialises in planning and producing Corporate and Social events with a specialty in weddings. The organisation also provides brand communications strategy services for corporate clients looking to launch a new product or service.
Speaking on her plans for PlanIt’s future, she says,
“At the moment, apart from Ghana, we have clients from South Africa, Europe and the USA. It is our hope, as a team, that one day our clientele will be dotted across the world. We’re working towards building PlanIt into a global brand. In a few years we want to look back at how far we’ve come as a Brand Communications & Event Planning Firm; pat ourselves on the back and take a worldwide cruise. That day will soon come.”
Although Yankson does not believe the current Ghanaian economic climate welcomes entrepreneurship, she believes that this shouldn’t stop women from trying. Her advice to young African women: “I am a strong advocate for women in the Ghanaian business world occupying key decision making positions. Women should believe in themselves more. If you can dream it, you can achieve it so go for it girl!”