Make an impact and move forward to make another impact and also build character whilst at it, that will open more opportunities for you because of your diverse experience gained over time in the marketing space within various sectorsSiphuxolo Mazwi
For this segment of Women In Marketing, we had a chat with Siphuxolo who is ADA’s Marketing & Communications Specialist. Siphuxolo is an advocate for education and is actually in the running for Miss Bachelorette South Africa! Let’s dive in
LET’S GET PERSONAL
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES?
I was born in a small town in the Eastern Cape called KwaBhaca (formerly known as Mount Frere.)
My fondest memories have to be the time spent with my cousins growing up, amongst the funniest things we would get up to was once during my birthday. My mother bought me a cake and my cousins and I wanted to have the same experience as on TV/books with the candles; we used the candles that were used for lighting the house because there was no electricity in my village at the time.
It was a bit windy and proved to be difficult to keep the candles lit. We took the cake and went behind the door to maintain a flame on the candles. We had our birthday moment behind the door, we sang and had our own experience just like the other kids we used to see on TV (we had a black and white TV at the time that would play using a car battery in the absence of electricity).
SHOW OFF TO OUR READERS. ANY HIDDEN TALENTS YOU CAN SHARE WITH US? A CLARINET STAR IN THE MAKING PERHAPS?
I can sew.
When I was still in high school, I would help my mother and sew aprons for her to sell to community ladies for some extra cash. I am a seasoned public / motivational speaker focusing on youth empowerment, career development and SMART goal setting. I am also a model and currently in the top 16 finalists for Miss Bachelorette South Africa 2020, a women empowerment pageant for unmarried, mature independent women.
WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
That fortune would fast track my ultimate goal in life of being able to afford to send pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in my community to tertiary institutions to further their studies so that they can be empowered and skilled for the betterment of their livelihoods.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU ABSOLUTELY WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!
Pap and meat, specifically mutton and some spinach with chillies on the side.
WHAT MADE YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH THE WORLD OF MARKETING? WHAT PARTICULAR MOMENT IN TIME PUSHED YOU TO PURSUE THIS CAREER? AFTER ALL, WE ALL WANTED TO BE DOCTORS GROWING UP, RIGHT?
My Background is in Tourism Management and when I was in University, I would work as a casual at Africa’s Travel Indaba which is a tourism trade show hosted annually in Durban. Seeing all the tourism brands and countries showcasing their tourism products made me fall in love with the world of marketing.
I had always been in the marketing space in most of my casual jobs when I was still at school. My first long term employment within the marketing space was a SANBI where I excelled in profiling the KZN SANBI brand through the strategies I would develop and implement. It never felt like work at all, I enjoyed every moment whilst carrying out my KPAs.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL IN THE WORLD, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
LIONESS – A brave hunter, provider and protector of the family and her tribe. Courageous and very strategic in her hunting tactics. I believe every woman leader should have the characteristics of a lioness; each day of my life I learn to display these traits and live like a lioness in this jungle we call our world.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T LEARN FROM YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE ALONE?
I like travelling as it allows me to draw inspiration from people from different walks of life. I love tasting various dishes from various tribes and I like owning traditional garments from different cultural backgrounds and also to learn different languages from the places I visit. I like authentic experiences! When I worked for SANBI, I was fortunate enough to be part of the team that travelled to Chelsea, London to represent South Africa at the Chelsea flower show and our flower exhibit won a Gold award.
ENTERING THE WORKPLACE
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
I am a tea person; green tea and lemon to be specific. There is a new brand of citrus and ginger flavoured rooibos tea – I am hooked. I write my to-do list, open my emails and whoooala the day is gone.
HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I start my days with a plan though I have to admit, I don’t always stick to it because of the demanding nature of my work but having a blueprint works. Just as in my personal capacity, I always have a plan on what to do next towards my personal goals then once I achieve something I reward myself and that keeps me going because I need to do something valuable to reward myself, no matter how small the achievement a reward is a “must”.
“The more you celebrate life, the more there is in life to celebrate” (Oprah Winfrey)
WHAT APPS/SOFTWARE/TOOLS CAN YOU NOT GO A DAY WITHOUT UTILISING?
My laptop, my cell phone, Google, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, youtube and TED talks
HOW BEST WOULD YOU DEFINE GREAT LEADERSHIP?
Thought leadership is my definition of great leadership. The leaders that turn ideas into reality. These are the individuals that are open to change and willing to engage in continuous learning.
YOU HAVE ACCUMULATED AN ENVIOUS AMOUNT OF EXPERIENCE HAVING WORKED FOR TOP-TIER COMPANIES SUCH AS SUN INTERNATIONAL, SANBI, MARRIOTT AS WELL AS USHAKA MARINE WORLD. WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THESE ROLES? HOW ARE YOU APPLYING THESE EXPERIENCES IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE AT Agribusiness Development Agency?
The most take-home experience from my previous roles has to be sound stakeholder relationship management, brand management and events management. ADA is an entity that supports black-owned agribusinesses for sustainability, my role therefore has been to connect the farmers that we support to markets through tradeshows and expos so that they can network and build clientele.
Relationships with schools and tertiary institutions have been an imperative part of marketing work done by the ADA because it gives these young minds a glimpse and assurance that a career in agriculture is most viable and a sustainable sector that one gets involved in.
Our brand promise at ADA is growing KZN’s agribusiness for sustainability and this promise is achieved through assisting these startup farms not only with funding but with training and mentorships towards the entire value chain, from the soil, processing and to the shelves for the consumers.
YOU OBTAINED YOUR MBA FROM MANCOSA (GIRL YOU FANCY!). ACCORDING TO GLASSDOOR, IT HAS BECOME SEEMINGLY EASIER TO APPLY TO WORK FOR COMPANIES LIKE GOOGLE, APPLE AND STARBUCKS AS THEY DO NOT REQUIRE APPLICANTS TO HAVE A DEGREE. HOW CAN YOUNG WOMEN UTILISE THE INTERNET TO UPSKILL THEMSELVES PARTICULARLY IF THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO OBTAIN A FORMAL EDUCATION?
I am drawn to education, it’s a topic that I always talk about on my motivational speeches to young adults.
I always tell them to educate yourself not to be an academic but to be a strategic thinker, to be able to identify opportunities and to make sound decisions for your future. The way to upskill oneself online is taking part on the free online courses on whatever field that a person is interested in (EDX has a lot of these from credible universities across the world) and also listen to a lot of speeches from leaders/business people who have been able to drive their businesses to become leaders in their respective industries to gain motivation and insight.
JOB HOPPING IS A COMMON PHENOMENA ESPECIALLY IN THE DYNAMIC WORLD OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING. WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON JOB HOPPING? DOES IT HURT OR AID ONE’S CAREER?
In my opinion, one needs to always move within this very dynamic industry to gain insight and new experience to avoid having stagnant strategies that might hurt the company’s progress. Make an impact and move forward to make another impact and also build character whilst at it, that will open more opportunities for you because of your diverse experience gained over time in the marketing space within various sectors.
FORBES HAS AN ANNUAL ‘THE WORLD’S MOST INFLUENTIAL CMOS’ REPORT. FOR THE YEAR 2019, ONE OF THE KEY HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE REPORT WERE THAT 31 OF THE 50 CMOS LISTED WERE WOMEN. IN YOUR OPINION, IS THIS A POSITIVE REPRESENTATION OF GENDER EQUALITY?
Living in a society that is making undoubtedly efforts in balancing gender in every space we live in, this means a lot to me and thus this is positive representation.
Women leaders are dominating and this should not only be about equal numbers of women and men in leadership positions but it should most importantly be about competence and resilience, we are getting there. I am proud to be part of the women leaders in the marketing space.
COVID19 HAS BROUGHT WITH IT AN UNPRECEDENTED DISRUPTION TO THE WORLD. SEVERAL COMPANIES ARE NEARING BANKRUPTCY WHILE OTHERS HAVE BEEN FORCED TO SHUTDOWN OR LAY OFF THEIR STAFF. WHAT SHOULD THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION BE ESPECIALLY IN THE MARKETING CONTEXT AS WE ADAPT IN THIS ENVIRONMENT? HOW HAVE YOU AND YOUR DEPARTMENT COUNTERED THE EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC?
The pandemic has taken the world by surprise. With the farmers that we as ADA support, we saw social media as a vital tool that assisted the sales of their produce during the lockdown period. Some of the farmers placed their produce and specials and were able to deliver and courier their products to their clients.
Technology has been a major aspect that has enabled us to survive the pandemic and the disadvantages it came with. Companies need to invest more in modern technology to thrive in their industries. These include data mining and data analytics. These will enable companies to effectively sell or market their products to their targeted markets and personalise product offerings to be more appealing to the targeted individuals that will also play a major role in retaining the customers thus keeping businesses afloat and achieving brand equity.
SYSTEMS AROUND REMOTE WORK AND VIDEO CONFERENCING ARE INCREASINGLY BECOMING STAPLE IN MOST ORGANISATIONS. ACCORDING TO THE INFOGRAPHIC CREATED BY VISUAL CAPITALIST, ZOOM IS NOW WORTH MORE THAN THE 7 BIGGEST AIRLINES IN THE WORLD AT A WHOPPING MARKET CAPITALIZATION OF JUST OVER $40BN. SUFFICE TO SAY, REMOTE WORKING IS AN ASPECT OF MODERN-DAY WORK THAT HAS BEEN LONG OVERDUE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY HAVE MOST ORGANISATIONS STRUGGLED TO CONVERT TO THIS WAY OF WORK?
Most organisations struggled to adapt to this way of work, especially in South Africa. As a developing country, issues around technological infrastructure impede a large majority of our workforce from working from home. There is no wi-fi in most homes because of affordability in some cases.
When one finally has the resources there isn’t much productivity because the environment in some families is not conducive for one to work at home, this could be because of the number of family members under one roof or other issues. The adapting part of this remote work has not only been about the organisations but it has been about the drivers of the organisations i.e the employees.
REMOTE WORK HAS COME WITH ITS OWN SET OF CHALLENGES, PARAMOUNT TO THIS IS THE FACT THAT EMPLOYEES ARE NOW ‘ALWAYS ON’ WITH WORK CARRYING OVER EVEN BEYOND WORKING HOURS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS MANAGE THIS BETTER TO PROTECT THE WELLBEING OF THEIR EMPLOYEES?
Organisations can manage this by constantly sending automated reminders for employees to take breaks for their well being and encourage Flexi hours. Managers and supervisors need to have check-in sessions with their staff members. It could be some activities and games, virtual team building activities to encourage teamwork and effective collaborations although the staff is not in one place.
MORE PEOPLE HAVE ACCESS TO THE INTERNET THAN EVER BEFORE. HOWEVER, THE DIGITAL DIVIDE STILL EXISTS, PARTICULARLY IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES. IN YOUR OPINION, WILL REMOTE WORKING PROMOTE FOR A MORE CONNECTED SOCIETY AND AS SUCH AN INCREASE IN AFFORDABLE DATA PLANS AS WELL AS COVERAGE?
In my observation, remote working has caused a divide in South Africa. This has separated those who have know-how around technology and those who do not. Those who can afford data and those who cannot and that has unfortunately left out some of our citizens and caused a divide and if nothing is done, the country will remain more and more divided by the surfacing of technology.
STORYTELLING SEEMS TO BE THE NEXT RISING BUZZWORD. WHAT’S THE Agribusiness Development Agency STORY? HOW ARE YOU TELLING IT IN AN INTERESTING WAY?
As the ADA, we have a very good story to tell when marketing and promoting our services. Social media has been instrumental as to where we tell these stories by having interviews with our farmers on why they started their businesses and what challenges they faced as well as the impact of the support they have received from ADA.
These farmers have very inspiring stories as they share their journeys towards the success of their agribusinesses and having these on our social media tells any person who is listening that he/she can become an agribusiness owner. It is no longer us as the organisation that tells people what we do and how we do it, our beneficiaries tell the stories and we reach our target markets through those stories.
BCG PUBLISHED ITS INNOVATION REPORT FOR 2020 AND AT THE CORE OF ITS SELECTION CRITERIA ARE COMPANIES THAT HAVE SUCCESSFULLY MARRIED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. ACCORDING TO YOU, WHAT MAKES SOMETHING INNOVATIVE? HOW DO YOU DEFINE INNOVATION AT Agribusiness Development Agency?
Within the ADA, innovation is defined by connecting the farmers that we support by connecting them to new and efficient ways of farming that are inspired by technology including high tech hydroponics, drones and the use of technology for the monitoring of animal growth. This innovation yields greater productivity and profitability to the agribusinesses that are supported by the entity.
AT THE TIME OF PUBLISHING, THE DIGITAL MARKETING INSTITUTE ESTIMATED THAT THE INFLUENCER MARKETING INDUSTRY WILL HIT THE $10BN MARK BY 2020. WHETHER B2B OR B2C, IT’S EVIDENT THAT BRANDS AND ORGANISATIONS HAVE HAD THEIR SUCCESS WITH THIS MODEL OF MARKETING. HOW WILL THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AFFECT THIS INDUSTRY GOING FORWARD AND DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS STILL A PLACE FOR INFLUENCER MARKETING?
I believe there is still a place for influencer marketing. Consumers nowadays purchase authentic experiences and products that have been produced within harmonious environments and that are socially responsible.
Storytelling is becoming a big way of marketing services and products and therefore the influencers become the storytellers that reach the desired target audience.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF Agribusiness Development Agency BIGGEST SUCCESSES IN MARKETING OVER THE PAST 12 TO 18 MONTHS?
The biggest success in Marketing over the past 12 months has been placing our brand on social media platforms with content that is relevant to our target audience (more especially the youth and women) including success stories from our beneficiaries. This has positioned the ADA brand to create a unique impression to our target audience and also influence the youth to engage in agribusiness because the agriculture sector is one of the most sustainable sectors that can positively contribute to the country’s economy.
WHAT’S YOUR SMARTEST WORK-RELATED SHORTCUT OR PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
Benchmarking from other “like” organisations that are better at something than myself has been one of my most productivity hacks.
2020 AND BEYOND
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? (WHAT DO YOU READ, AND HOW DO YOU CONSUME INFORMATION? PAPERBACK VS EREADER?)
I am Currently Reading – ‘The Awakened Woman‘ By Dr Terrerai Trent, I am a paperback fan☺
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
A fall from grace
Love is war
AS WE LEARN TO LIVE WITH COVID19 IF YOU COULD REPLACE THE HANDSHAKE AS A FORM OF GREETING, WHAT INTERESTING NEW GREETING WOULD YOU INTRODUCE?
Eye contact and a nod just like the Chinese do.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
Ms Dipolelo Moshe, I hope she is doing well in her new venture…she is my friend and inspiration.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Be an opportunist and be open to learning, be creative and adaptable. Always begin with the end in mind so that when life happens you do not get derailed from what you ought to achieve, that goal will carry you all the days of life. Respect people that you will meet in the industry and make as many connections as you can. Have integrity and most of all have fun!
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
RELAX! Everything will fall into place in its own appointed time. Whatever is meant for you will be for you and grace will locate you wherever you are.
WHAT CHALLENGE IS ON YOUR PLATE? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PAIN POINTS YOU ARE TRYING TO OVERCOME IN YOUR LIFE WHETHER PROFESSIONALLY, PERSONALLY OR BOTH?
As a young woman, I am challenged by the thoughts to start a family or to do my PHD, I have to make a decision soon on what I will have to start with.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS (PROFESSIONAL AS WELL AS PERSONAL)?
Earning a PHD
Funding one student towards tertiary education
Buying myself a Mercedes Benz GLA
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES?
My mother – that woman is strong, she started a primary school in my village that I also attended, though there were challenges in her time she managed to triumph over those because she was dedicated to the development of young minds through education, arts and crafts and music. She managed to raise strong independent women as well as an independent hard working only son. (my siblings)