Born and raised in the City of Gold, Sasha-Lee is the founder of boutique agency, Putty Perfect. Harnessing her creative prowess from an early age, Sasha-Lee’s interest for marketing and communication was natural. With more people working from home due to lockdown restrictions earlier in the year, she touches on why discipline is important especially in achieving a work-life balance. Let’s jump into 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 the city of gold & dreams, Johannesburg, in a little coloured township next to Soweto called Riverlea.
One of my fondest memories is helping my parents in their spaza-shop which I practically grew up in. I would do my homework in the shop, take naps on a bed of cooldrink crates and of course I enjoyed my anytime supply of sweets. It was the way they made a living for us and to put me through the best schools they could afford.
SHOW OFF TO OUR READERS. ANY HIDDEN TALENTS THAT MOST PEOPLE WOULDN’T KNOW OF? A CLARINET STAR IN THE MAKING PERHAPS?
I’m very good at playing pool. When I was younger, my dad had pool tables in his shop and I would practice and challenge all the boys in the neighbourhood to a game- I beat many self-proclaimed champions.
WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
If I won the lottery, I would probably invest most of it into my businesses, I’d invest some of it offshore, donate as much as possible to all the charitable causes I adore and then ensure that my parents and in-laws can retire comfortably.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU ABSOLUTELY WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!
I love seafood. I am always reluctant to share my prawns or calamari with my fiance, so the chances of anyone else getting a bite is slim to none.
YOU OBTAINED YOUR BA IN GRAPHIC DESIGN FROM THE GREENSIDE DESIGN CENTER (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 love the internet!
It has created so much more opportunity for those who cannot afford to access traditional education. Young women have the world as their oyster as there is a rise in the creation of opportunities to empower women. There is always someone, somewhere giving out a free course, webinar or tools that can be utilised as education.
I advise young women to be sponges and to use the free knowledge out there to their advantage. You don’t need a certificate to have the knowledge. I’ve done many free courses, where I couldn’t afford to pay the fee for the certificate in the end, but I still left with the knowledge which is the key takeaway.
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?
When I was in school, my career choice changed with the seasons.
From a teacher to psychologist and even social worker, each year I changed my mind. But I’ve always been creative, even as a child. In particular, imagery and words are my choices of poison. When I started working, I always pushed myself and my job to the limits. I was always creating new concepts and more work for myself, never satisfied with just doing my “official job”.
Working in marketing departments as a designer, allowed me the freedom to branch out of my comfort zones and play in other areas of marketing. I love the hustle of the marketing department. Pretty soon, I was learning about marketing strategies, plans, social media, digital advertising and so much more. In my last corporate job, I created my very own position as digital manager. I had learnt all I could as a designer and I needed to move on. Now I’m fully immersed in the world of social media marketing.
YOU HAVE ACCUMULATED AN ENVIOUS AMOUNT OF EXPERIENCE HAVING WORKED FOR TOP-TIER COMPANIES SUCH AS AUTO TRADER, PRIMA TOYS AS WELL AS GRANADILLA. WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THESE ROLES AND HOW DO YOU APPLY YOUR EXPERIENCES IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?
I don’t think I can even begin to list the things I’ve learnt from my experiences in all those remarkable companies.
The best lessons were always more than business, they were life lessons. Some of my best managers taught me how to treat people and be a true leader. Some of my favourite colleagues taught me work ethic and resilience. These are all traits and lessons you want to have as a business owner and entrepreneur- because your customers’ and network’s perception of you becomes your lifeline.
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?
I’ve recently joined a mentorship programme where I am a mentor to young professionals.
I feel that mentorship has become very much a vanity tool for those who mentor and has drifted away from helping mentees find their feet within the industry or profession. I feel like you can assist yourself as a mentee by simply following people who you admire and inspecting how they react to or handle certain situations.
If you are a mentor, the aim should always be to help the mentee find their answer, never to impose your experiences or answers on them. We are all walking different paths, so your advice or experience may not suit them, but you know better how to help them find their way.
ENTERING THE WORKPLACE
WHAT DOES THE TYPICAL DAY OF WORK LOOK LIKE? ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
Haha, I’m both, #AsLongAsItsHot.
I am usually on social media the moment I open my eyes, checking for the latest news and content. I check my calendar for the day and then I get out of bed. I start my day with a shower and green tea- then I get settled into working. Throughout the day I drink plenty of water and have one coffee in the afternoon as a pick-me-up.
I am often at my desk all day with a couple of stretches in between. Before lockdown, I used to love my #OfficeAnywhere and used to work at different coffee shops- I loved the buzz. During the day I service all my clients and then toward the end of the day and often into the night, I work on my admin and content.
HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I try to not have overlapping time. So when it’s work time, I work and when it’s lifetime, I make sure that work doesn’t interrupt. Weekends are for family and fun. There is a time and a place for everyone and everything. When I am with family, I make sure that I am fully in the moment and not taking anything away from that quality time.
I have set times for business and make sure that I don’t cross those boundaries. I also make time for my wellness and health to ensure that holistically I am taking care of my mind, body, family and business.
HOW HAS THE TRANSITION BEEN FROM BEING AN EMPLOYEE TO NOW BEING YOUR OWN BOSS?
Working for someone else is vastly different from working for yourself. I had to assume responsibility for generating my income, every sale and contract is gold. I’ve had to learn how to be financially independent and insecure because no two months are ever the same. I dictate my hours so I also dictate how much work I get done and how much I procrastinate- there is no-one but yourself to answer to.
HOW BEST WOULD YOU DEFINE GREAT LEADERSHIP?
Great leadership for me would be not having to lead at all. It’s about being beside your people, not ahead of them, yet having the vision to see ahead where others don’t. It’s about empathy and integrity. Wanting to help others to succeed as much as you have and letting their greatness shine through.
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?
I wouldn’t promote “job-hopping” as such. Many employers are looking for stability and loyalty and a sign of this can be how long you’ve remained at a company for. However, remaining at one company for an extended period doesn’t mean that you need to stay in one job or position. I encourage all young professionals to seek growth within the company and never be afraid to do more and be more.
Millennials and Gen-Z have increasingly shown bravery in leaving jobs that don’t benefit them to the fullest, and I think we can all learn from that. Employers don’t hold power over you. If making a move from one company to the other empowers you financially, academically or even emotionally, then you should do exactly that. Job hopping can at times create the wrong perception, but calculated moves can significantly catapult your career.
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?
Not really. Marketing has always been female-dominated because it has always been perceived as an industry where one needs to be more emotionally in-tune, and society has labelled women like this. So for years, marketing was seen as the “woman’s job” and sales and operation as “men’s”. For me, equality works both ways.
I am pleased to see many more men coming into the marketing industry and many more women taking on positions of leadership on boards, in operations and sales.
COVID19 HAS BROUGHT WITH IT AN UNPRECEDENTED DISRUPTION TO THE WORLD. SEVERAL COMPANIES ARE NEARING BANKRUPTCY WHILST OTHERS HAVE BEEN FORCED TO EITHER CLOSE-DOWN 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?
Have empathy. In marketing, we are used to shouting about our brands and products and in a time like this, where the world is suffering and people are not only fighting for their livelihood but also their lives, we need to take a breath and be human.
A good marketing strategy in general is customer-centric and focuses on giving value to the customer. We now need to be human-centric and show empathy and share in the world as we all adapt to the changes which are out of our control.
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. WITH THAT BEING SAID, WORKING FROM HOME/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?
I think the notion of “if I can’t see you, are you working?” has hindered many organisations.
To their defence, everyone is different and some people simply don’t have the desired discipline to work independently and manage their own time and expectations. The need to work from home has allowed organisations to see that many employees are more productive from home, where they are more comfortable. This has opened the conversation that all employees shouldn’t be painted with one brush. I hope that Flexi-working will be embraced more, especially in South Africa, where we tend to be a little more conservative than other countries.
STORYTELLING SEEMS TO BE THE NEXT RISING BUZZWORD. WHAT’S THE PUTTY PERFECT SOCIAL STORY? HOW ARE YOU TELLING IT IN AN INTERESTING WAY?
My story is simply that of a young entrepreneur who is taking on the world one step at a time. I try to tell it through my work and personality. I try to let my actions tell my story as each action is a building block to my brand, experience and legacy.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF PUTTY PERFECT SOCIAL BIGGEST SUCCESSES IN MARKETING OVER THE PAST 12 TO 18 MONTHS?
My successes are my happy clients. However, some of our wins have been:
- Recently featured in True Love Magazine: 7 Ways To Master LinkedIn
- Recently featured on a podcast: I Work For Me
- Featured Future Females: Fearless Female Friday
- Recently featured on a blog: Women In Business
- Helped creatives survive COVID: #CreativesChats&Coffee
- Guest Judge: 2019 ROAR Awards
- Speaker at 2019 MADEX: #MillenialMindset
- Published my book: ‘The Castles We Build On Love & Ruin’
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 PUTTY PERFECT SOCIAL?
I think innovation is doing something that in its simplest form solves an issue that people don’t know they have until they experience not having/using it again. It is not always elaborate or fancy – in its core, innovation is problem-solving.
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 OWN 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 think as brands and companies scale back and try to find more efficient ways of spending marketing budget, as well as the improvement of tech and apps, we may see more and more use of influencers on campaigns. The standard for influencers is rising with regards to ads and product placement.
Why would a company still spend R1mil on one TV advert when they can get 10 unique adverts and exposure for a fraction of the budget?
WHAT APPS/SOFTWARE/TOOLS CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT?
It would probably be all the apps on my phone that allow me to have mobility. Gmail, Google Calendar, Slack, my social media scheduling tools, my time tracker tool and my FNB banking app.
HOW DO YOU LEVERAGE DATA TO INFORM YOUR DECISION-MAKING?
I think all decisions need to be data-led. Data gives us information from real experiences and makes life easier as you don’t have to guess or hypothesize anything. I make sure that I compare numbers and forecast a trend based on those numbers – that helps me then make informed decisions.
WHAT’S YOUR SMARTEST WORK-RELATED SHORTCUT OR PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
Planning and scheduling everything.
I get the most out of my days when I plan, be it content or meetings etc and then I schedule it all to free up both time and mind space. If you have to remember every little thing whilst constantly working, your brain will short-circuit.
2020 AND BEYOND
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I am currently reading ‘Dutch Courage’ by Nick Paige who is a South African novelist. I love reading everything in all forms.
When it comes to paperbacks, I enjoy lighter reading like fiction or poetry. The smell of the paper and the act of flipping the pages call for relaxation. When I read up on the news, industry-related content- or anything that is not for leisure- I enjoy doing so either on my phone or laptop as e-books, blogs or articles. That’s when I am actively engaged and I can do so on the go. Technology is beautiful in that way.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
I am a big Apple Plus fan, so I enjoy productions there. I just finished ‘Home Before Dark’ and ‘Central Park’ and am currently watching ‘Ted Lasso’ and ‘Defending Jacob’. On Netflix, my watchlist consists of ‘Jane The Virgin’, live contests like ‘Sugar Rush’ and ‘Glow Up’ and any true crime documentaries.
AS WE LEARN TO LIVE WITH COVID19 IF YOU COULD REPLACE THE HANDSHAKE AS A FORM OF GREETING, WHAT INTERESTING NEW GREETING WOULD YOU REPLACE IT WITH?
I’d love to see people greeting each other with love- so I would replace the handshake with the Sign Language sign for ‘I love you’. I think we need more love in the world, especially during a pandemic.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
I generally try to keep in touch with everyone important in my life and social media makes it so easy for us to contact anyone we wish to. I haven’t spoken to some awesome colleagues from my last job and I hope they are doing okay.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Take your time. I think the marketing industry is so fast-paced and sometimes it can feel like you know a lot and are at the top of your game, but as time progresses, you’ll soon discover that there is much more to learn holistically. Take your time to learn before you decide to teach.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
You can do absolutely anything that the next person can do. Stop doubting yourself, put your blinkers on and focus on your strengths. Believe in yourself and your strengths. When people tell you what you’re good at, believe them and believe in yourself.
Give yourself a break. You always give 200% and sometimes when you feel tired, just rest and then get back on it. Resting is not the enemy, it’s not a bad thing.
WHAT HAVEN’T YOU SOLVED? WHAT CHALLENGE IS ON YOUR PLATE?
I am working on establishing my foundation that would help take care of underprivileged children’s needs at the foundation level, like reading/books, proper sanitation, school necessities, lunch, etc. Children are very close to my heart and we need them to have a good childhood experience to grow into good adult humans.
I would also like to attend more speaking engagements, it is my passion to carry over the knowledge that I’ve learnt and if I can speak/teach then I’m content.
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING OUT FOR AWESOME WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO INTERVIEW IN FUTURE?
Chiquita Patrizi was my mentor, boss and is now a very close friend. She is a veteran in the Marketing industry and would be perfect.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
Establishing my foundation as well as travelling to all my bucket list destinations.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES?
I have many female heroes for various reasons, most of whom I admire their work ethic, determination and what they’ve achieved.
Some include, but are not limited to, my mother, Farah Fortune(local), Oprah, Beyonce, JK Rowling, Ika Van Wyk(colleague) and Rushda Moosajee (local) and Nadia Tromp (local & internationally awarded architect).
HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
@SocialWithSasha (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Sasha-Lee Findlay (LinkedIn)