REgenTT Perspectives Presents: Shalini Jabar
At REgenTT Perspectives, our goal is to give a platform to those who are passionate about making a positive change in Trinidad and Tobago and to inspire others to action. One such person is our Senior Blog Editor Ms. Shalini Jabar, a young Communications and Marketing professional who is passionate about encouraging an audience-based approach to sustainability efforts. Below are some insights into Shalini's inspirations and future goals.
1. Tell us a bit about the work you do in the field of Communications and what led you to this career path?
The field of Communication has many layers and my work has crossed into a range of them. From managing an e-commerce website for a retail company, to writing articles and speeches on Renewable Energy and then to spearheading advertising for a micro-finance company, the list goes on, each project very different yet rooted in the same core concept – a message needs to be sent. I sometimes look back on my journey and still wonder how I even got here, having built an academic foundation on sciences. In my early teens (when most students are asked to narrow down their fields of interest) I convinced myself I wanted to be a scientist and that was the story I stuck to. I was discouraged from pursuing creative fields from a young age and eventually I had shut the possibility out of my mind. Fast forward to a few years later, I was sitting in a lecture at UWI, months into my Physics degree, and I asked myself, “Do I really want to do this for the rest of my life?”. The answer was no. The follow up question was then what did I actually want to do? I wanted to write, to inform, to educate and to make sense of the evolving world around me. I transferred to the Communication Studies programme and never looked back.
2. In your opinion, what role does Communications play in creating a more sustainable, safe, healthy and thriving future for Trinidad & Tobago?
Communication is all about tailoring a message to reach its target audience as efficiently and effectively as possible. As such, communication is key when effecting cultural change such as that which is necessary to create a more sustainable future. Different levels of communication are necessary to appeal to the different audiences. I believe there is a greater need for efforts towards a sustainable future to be communicated on a scale in which it can appeal to a wider audience. When I became involved in sustainability projects, I realised there was a lot of work being done and a lot of interesting data available but I would have known nothing had I not been directly included within the sustainability network. This is not because the information is not available, it’s because it is not presented in such a way as to have a wide reach. I think Communications will help open sustainability to a wider audience and encourage buy-in on multiple levels.
3. What’s the most exciting project you have worked on and what impact do you think it had on yourself and others?
The most exciting project I’ve worked on was an awareness campaign with the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries where I was able to travel across the country to various schools (at both primary and secondary level) to host interactive sessions on Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. It was during this initiative that I realised that, at times in trying to encourage a behavioural shift, the simplest things are taken for granted and these things are often the key to set that shift in motion. At first the project focused mainly on encouraging the students to conserve energy through simple changes in everyday tasks. After a few tries and some interaction with the students, it was clear that our message was missing a key component necessary to reach them on a meaningful level. At one session, the students were asked if they knew where their energy came from and this was where the missing link was made obvious . They weren’t able to fully engage in the concept of energy efficiency, because they first needed to understand what energy was and where it came from. A simple step that was taken for granted. After incorporating this aspect into the programme, the response from the students took on an engaging and willful energy. The project impacted my perspective on effectively assessing audiences when delivering messages and also my understanding of what the message is meant to achieve. It is my hope that the project has inspired many young minds to be more mindful of how their day to day lives can impact the world around them and to encourage others to do the same.
4. How has your field evolved over the years and what would you like to see happening?
Communication and its related fields have evolved rapidly in recent years with the help of technology and social media. Tools and platforms change daily and new ones pop up by the minute. This is good news for professionals within the field as more opportunities are being created for us and we also have a variety of ways to create our own. This, of course, is not without its downsides. Misinformation and privacy are at the top of the list of serious concerns now more than ever. This underscores the need for a greater emphasis on Communication and Critical Thinking within school curriculums, not only within the context of specialized fields of study, but for general life. Additionally, I would like to see a greater respect for the field of Communication, as communication is often seen as a skill everyone is capable of and therefore unnecessary as an entity on its own. This is easily disproved by a simple assessment of the world around us. As our exposure to the world expands, lines become more blurred and interactions become less predictable. Effective communication is a vital navigator through an evolving environment.
5. What are some of your personal goals?
I’ve always held on to the notion that one person can change the world since I was a child. While I’ve had many reasons to let go of this belief over time, the concept has simply evolved from what it first was. A personal goal of mine is to effect positive change in the world. Whether this is by influencing just one person, by sparking a mass revolution or by simply instilling positive change in myself and living the change. I would like to contribute significantly to the conversation on sustainability and encourage a more audience-based approach to sustainability efforts so that we can foster a culture of consciousness for our impact on the world around us.
6. If you had one (1) Superpower, what would it be, and why?
My superpower would definitely be the ability to teleport. No time wasted in traffic, no emissions and no cost. Though, it might spell trouble for my diet because I’d always be sneaking off to eat yummy food in different countries.
7. Best advice you have received?
Figure out who you want to be then be that, everything else will fall into place around you.
8. As a contributor to REgenTT Perspectives, what can our readers expect from you in the future?
As Senior Blog Editor (or Wizard of Words as I have deemed myself), I’d be involved in ensuring every piece that is featured on REgenTT Perspectives has high readability and is effective in communicating its message. It is my hope that I can contribute pieces of my own in time, with a focus on sustainability as it relates to Creativity, Education and Communication.
9. What is your vision for T&T?
My vision for T&T is a nation of people that are conscious of their impact on the future and their impact on the world. I’d love to wake up one day in the future and see the implementation of a sustainable waste management system, better preservation and protection of our ecosystems, sustainable management of our natural resources and more investment and support for our agricultural sector. I’d also like to see a more efficient and widely available public transport system, reduced occurrences of crime and a greater focus on mental health and emotional intelligence. My vision is not exhaustive, as there will always be room for improvement and change as the world grows over time, it is nonetheless, my hope that we can grow with it while maintaining our own unique Trinbagonian identity.
Shalini Jabar is a member of the REgenTT Editorial staff, her professional profile can be found at https://www.linkedin.com/in/shalini-jabar-b1602856/