Zethu Gqola, LinkedIn, Women In Marketing (Black)
Women In Marketing

Women In Marketing 2020 Edition ft. Zethu Gqola from Rocking The Daisies

Everything takes time. You have to work hard for everything. There is this social pressure to be successful and have everything figured out by 25 and that is the furthest thing from reality

Zethu Gqola

COVID-19 Was a party pooper. We had a chat with Zethu Gqola who is the Head of Marketing for Rocking the Daisies. The Eastern Cape born creative can play the piano and actually studied music in high school. Her love for festivals came naturally. Let’s dive right in for this segment of Women In Marketing

LET’S GET PERSONAL

WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES? 

I was born in Mount Fletcher, Eastern Cape, and grew up in Matatiele. Some of my fondest memories include afternoons spent with my grandmother in Mount Fletcher, who always encouraged me to follow my dreams, no matter how much they didn’t make sense to others. I also remember when it was so wonderful and safe (as a girl) to play outside in the streets with your friends until the sun went down or go somewhere with friends without parental supervision – something that seems far from ever being a reality today.

And my favourite memories include spending full school holidays in Farview, a village in EC where my other grandmother lived.

SHOW OFF TO OUR READERS. ANY HIDDEN TALENTS YOU CAN SHARE WITH US? A CLARINET STAR IN THE MAKING PERHAPS?  

I took piano lessons from the age of 10 until I was 18 and studied music as a subject in high school. 

Strangely enough, I have not touched a piano in almost 10years. Taking music as a subject made me lose my love and passion for playing the piano as a hobby because of the stress and pressure around it from my teachers and academics. It started as a hobby and ended as a chore that I dreaded. One of the things I regret doing is taking it as a school subject.

WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE? 

I think like everyone else you first want to buy all of these incredible things, but I think I would invest some of it, help my parents and extended family members, assist charities and children’s homes that lack funding back home and maybe start my own business with a little. 

Not all in one go though, everything in due time – starting with locking it away until I’m financially literate and capable of being responsible for such large sums.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!  

I live for beef burgers and chips.

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? 

I moved to Cape Town in 2012 to work as a journalist (Marie Claire in 2012, GQ & Glamour magazines from 2013-2014) which was when I went to my first music festivals (Afrika Burn, Rocking the Daisies, and many, many more) and fell in love with the live entertainment and festival culture. 

I remember in 2014 while watching Rudimental (UK) perform live at Rocking the Daisies, that was the exact moment I felt that I had to do whatever this is and work at the festival. And with the encouragement of Su Little (who was essentially the digital strategist and then-wife of Daisies co-founder Brian Little), she helped me get a job at the event company that her husband owned (which owned Rocking the Daisies).

I started as a PR coordinator and worked closely with the marketing director at the time, and I knew from then that whatever happened in this world, I wanted to have his job (LOL).

IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL IN THE WORLD, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE AND WHY? 

I think in a lot of ways I’m already a chameleon. I fit into my desired environments with ease. Or maybe a lizard – quick on my feet and if you chop off my tail I will grow a new one.

WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T LEARN FROM YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE ALONE? 

Despite that I am still working at Rocking the Daisies, I was retrenched by the company that initially owned it in 2016 (the now-defunct Seed Experiences). Although I ended up doing the social media for their 2016 campaign, I was now doing it as an employee at my new job at the time, at Platinum Seed. It was a heartbreaking year career-wise, but I learnt things at PS that helped me grow into a great social media marketer and strategist.

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 used to be team coffee, but I start my day by getting woken up by my human alarm clock (my 2yo daughter), then we have breakfast and tea together every morning. I used to wake up before her, grab a coffee and go through the news, but I now enjoy dedicating all of my pre-9am awake time to a lovely routine and hangout that we’ve nurtured since the start of lockdown.

HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE? 

The most important thing is setting the boundaries of time. My work time has a start and end time and I have made it clear that I’m unavailable after hours. I used to struggle a lot with drawing the line, but since becoming a mom I cherish the time I can spend with my family or have to myself.

YOU HAVE ACCUMULATED AN ENVIOUS AMOUNT OF EXPERIENCE HAVING WORKED FOR TOP-TIER COMPANIES SUCH AS MARIE CLAIRE, REDBULL AS WELL AS PLATINUM SEED. WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THESE ROLES? HOW ARE YOU APPLYING THESE EXPERIENCES IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE AT Rocking the Daisies? 

I think the biggest thing that I learnt and always take with me is the company motto of Platinum Seed, it’s become the byline of my life essentially and represents my approach to everything that I do:  Be brave. Stay inspired. Keep Pushing. Without ego. No bullshit.

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 the times that I found it difficult to find work, I believed that perhaps it was because I changed jobs quite frequently in my past (less than a year at a lot of places before RTD). 

I think that when you don’t spend a long time in a role, employers think that you’re unable to commit to something, which I understand, but believe it’s quite a skewed way to view things. I job hopped for many reasons, the main ones being toxic work environments and wanting to upskill myself whenever the opportunity arose.

I don’t regret it though, it’s been a part of discovering what it is that I want to do with my life (which is a journey that continues to this day, hence why I wear so many different hats outside of Rocking the Daisies).

FOR OUR INTERVIEW WITH YAEL TAMAR FROM SOLIDBLOCK, SHE REMARKED THAT WOMEN ARE MOST LIKELY TO OCCUPY THE CMO ROLE AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. WITH WOMEN CONTROLLING OVER $20 TRILLION IN GLOBAL SPENDING, WHY HAS IT BECOME INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT TO HAVE FEMALE CMOS IN YOUR OPINION? 

I prefer working with women and being led by women. The only company that I have worked at that was owned by a woman was One-Eyed Jack. One of the most standout factors was just how the women got things done and did them properly and how women-led companies have policies that are mindful of women’s needs in the workplace and life and accommodating to them in more than a general/generic way.

SYSTEMS AROUND REMOTE WORK AND VIDEO CONFERENCING ARE INCREASINGLY BECOMING STAPLE IN MOST ORGANISATIONS. ACCORDING TO  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? 

Micromanagement and obsessive employee watching are the main contributors. 

If you allow your employees to work from home, you let go of some of the power that you hold over them and time that “used to belong to you” no longer does. You can’t control what people do with their time in their personal spaces when they are meeting their employment targets – it makes the probability that they will find time to start their businesses (and possibly eventually leave yours) even higher. 

Visual Capitalist Graph, Women In Marketing
Image source: Visual Capitalist
Data source: Barchart

Alternatively, some people only function well as workers when they are being managed and watched. Some companies don’t like sharing their star talent so they prefer to shackle them to one place to maintain their competitive edge. 

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? 

It’s the responsibility of the employee to establish boundaries and when their time starts and ends and to be vocal to their employers when they are asked for things after hours that they will pick it up the following workday. People need to respect your time.

SHERYL SANDBERG MADE AN INTERESTING REMARK IN HER KICK-ASS BIOGRAPHY ‘LEAN IN: WOMEN, WORK, AND THE WILL TO LEAD’ THAT “SEARCHING FOR A MENTOR HAS BECOME THE PROFESSIONAL EQUIVALENT OF WAITING FOR PRINCE CHARMING”. SHE IS ILLUSTRATING THE NOTION OF WOMEN HAVING TO SEEK APPROVAL OR VALIDATION, ESPECIALLY FROM MEN WHO ARE AT MOST TIMES THE MENTORS. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON MENTORSHIP? 

We launched a mentorship program for RTD as a part of Women’s Month, to teach and create more opportunities for women because it’s something that myself and my colleagues firmly believe in. I love women who offer to be mentors to others (even I have one). 

I would never go as far as getting a male mentor as I generally prefer to work with women, but I believe that it’s a great way to educate and uplift another person and guide them in various ways that will help them navigate their career and campaigns. Searching for a mentor can be hard but it can also be easy. The difficult thing is identifying the person you’d love to have as a mentor, approaching them and getting a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Mentorships are opportunities to help someone who would otherwise have no other way of accessing information or getting their foot in the door of whatever industry. It feels good to help others because someone once helped me too.

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

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 Rocking the Daisies? 

To me, innovation is adapting to change, whether forced or invited, and creating something new or redefining what exists in a way that’s never been done before, and that could include breaking barriers and being at the forefront of something, no matter how big or small. At RTD, that ranges from being Africa’s most inclusive and diverse event to bringing leading technologies to events like a festival app that allows you to find your friends when you lose them on our farm. Innovation comes when you put the interests of your customers first.

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? 

Before Covid, we had a strange obsessive celebrity and influencer culture that focussed a lot on what people aspired to based on what others had. With all of the devastation caused by the pandemic (from job loss to financial ruin and losing loved ones), people are yearning more for uplifting content than anything that seems boastful and unattainable.

I think we’re going to see a shift from the use of the macro influencer to more micro and nano influencers because they’re more relatable to the everyday person. This, of course, doesn’t mean that the star power of a macro influencer is gone, it’s just become less effective and less believable unless that consumer is already a superfan.

ANY RECENT/UPCOMING INFLUENCER MARKETING CAMPAIGNS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE FROM Rocking the Daisies? 

Last year I created the “What I love about Daisies” campaign, which for the first time used ordinary event-goers that I found online to tell the world what they loved about the festival, encouraging others to comment below the posts and share their past experiences for a chance to win something. It’s been our most successful brand campaign to date and won us thousands of new brand advocates and fans.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MARKETING AND SALES ALIGNMENT? HOW DO YOU ALIGN YOUR MARKETING AND SALES TEAM AT Rocking the Daisies? 

What a lot of people have not known is that since 2018 I have single-handedly done all of the marketing, PR and social media for RTD, including being responsible for the main customer inquiry inboxes: hello@RTD and media@RTD and being a community manager to all of its existing social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat). In 2016 (alongside one other colleague) we managed all of the socials together and in 2019 I got an assistant for a short period last year. 

My responsibilities outside of creating the brand strategies include content and paid media strategy, community management, and everything you can think of that makes that outward perception of the brand what it is today. So, for the last 4 years, I have spoken to the people that I sell tickets to and converted many strangers into customers – from lengthy DM chats to resolving issues and trying to effectively implement their suggestions into my work and strategies.

I think that being on the ground on every level, even with the media and for the company as a whole, has given me an advantage that other marketers may not have.  

Having one person manage all of these isn’t the easiest but circumstances have put me in a position where I know my people very well, all 100 000 of them on our database – what they like, what they listen to, what they don’t like, what makes them happy (and still learning), and that’s allowed me to be able to create strategies that engage them on many levels and come up with things that improve their experiences and have high conversion rates from bystander to fan.

I am the marketing, PR, advertising and sales “teams” in one.

2020 AND BEYOND

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? (WHAT DO YOU READ, AND HOW DO YOU CONSUME INFORMATION? PAPERBACK VS EREADER?)

I’m a paperback kind of girl.

I’m currently reading  ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey. I’ve been reading this book for a year (which is the furthest away from being ‘highly effective’ LOL), but I have recently gotten back into it because I am trying to make the most of my time during this strange period in history, and feel that there are areas of development personally and professionally that need to be addressed, in terms of what I value and what I give most of my time and energy to (and how to carry this on forever – or however long as possible).

I hate self-help books, but this hasn’t read like one because, in the year that I have been reading it, it requires you to be practical in almost every chapter, so I’m growing with it as I read along, vs reading and hoping that I apply and grow into the information later.

When I worked as a journalist I used to also review books (Glamour magazine), so reading a novel was always a part of my day in one way or another and something I always made sure to take time to do – from lunch breaks to early morning solo coffee dates, but now that I’m a mom, have a music busier full time and freelance career, I am quite out of time to read as often as I would like.

I’ve tried ebooks, but I’ve found the digital experience detaches me a lot more from the story than picking up a good old book.

With such a busy schedule I consume news media primarily and digitally.

WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?

I decided to cancel my Netflix subscription 2 months ago because I wanted to spend more time mapping out my future and doing all of the things that I’d told myself I would do and learn during the lockdown and watching something was always taking time away from me committing to some goals that I’d made mentally to myself.

Since then I have mastered the art of amigurumi and rebooted by freelance work in music marketing, which have both become highly successful streams of additional personal income. Best thing I ever did!

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?

I am a huge fan of the nod.

WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?

Everyone. Everyone I love I have not seen since this whole thing started and I miss physical interactions and conversations so much. It’s been so long that I don’t even know how to have them when they happen these days (usually in the work meeting sense). Things have been changed forever and I wonder if they will ever quite be the same again.

A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY

Everything takes time. You have to work hard for everything. There is this social pressure to be successful and have everything figured out by 25 and that is the furthest thing from reality and results in so much personal disappointment that you can 100% avoid. Always back up your ideas. They’re as good as the person hyping them up.

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

Life takes quite a drastic turn and everything works out perfectly after 20 November 2017.

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?

I have not yet faced this challenge, but will from 3 January 2021, but being a mom of 2 and a career-driven woman is going to make me face myself professionally and put my work priorities in check. 

I have never missed out on any opportunity because of parenthood – as a matter of fact, it has driven me to achieve more and to excel a lot more than I used to. But I’m also not naive and know that juggling two kids at first is going to require a few months of finding the balance and I will need to work smarter. I work incredibly smart now, so the challenge will be how to level up to that and still be the badass in the boardroom that I am.

ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS (PROFESSIONAL AS WELL AS PERSONAL)?

Personally – I want to live overseas for at least one year (or more) of my life and it’s something that my fiance and I have been working towards for years. 

Professionally – to continue to have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, that I currently have now but have not fully utilised, and always put my best foot forward with every new project. I want to spend my 40s onwards primarily in philanthropy work because giving back and helping where I can have always been so close to my heart and is something that I want to spend the rest of my life doing. I also plan to write and publish a novel in my lifetime.

WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES? 

So many women for so many reasons.

Rihanna because of her chameleon ability to flow between creative spheres and just keep starting empires, Beyonce for her influence and the power she exudes with her presence alone, Farrah Fortune for her incredible work in PR over the years (when I was young I used to see her on TV and wanted to be just like her), Bonang Matheba because she represents The Dream being possible on an immediate level and myself because I have quite literally achieved every goal I have ever set out for myself and often remind myself that I am capable of taking it all, time and time again – because I have.

HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA?

Twitter: @zethugqola

IG: @zethugqola

WOULD YOU LIKE TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR #WOMENINMARKETING SERIES? CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE OUR SIGN UP FORM AND WE’LL BE IN TOUCH

Head of Relationship Management at naughtybanana. I am a father to an awesome boy who thinks highly of me; perhaps I'm doing something right after all. When I'm not establishing new business relationships, you might catch me reading a book or of course, being an awesome dad.