For this segment of Women In Marketing we chat with Mpho Hlalele who is the Marketing and Communication Manager at Microsoft. The Free State born marketer hopes to compete in the Comrades Marathon one day. What a Winner! Let’s learn more about her
LET’S GET PERSONAL
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES?
I was born in Kroonstad, Free State.
The first four years of my life definitely as I am the firstborn. I am the first grandchild from the maternal side of my family. My first doll’s name was Carol and we fought a lot as she would keep slipping as I tried putting her on my back.
SHOW OFF TO OUR READERS. ANY HIDDEN TALENTS YOU CAN SHARE WITH US? A CLARINET STAR IN THE MAKING PERHAPS?
Future Comrades finisher
WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
Start a family business that would create a legacy for the future generation.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!
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 loved reading magazines at an early age and was always fascinated by what goes behind the scenes. Whenever I saw the Editorial Team for e.g. I would imagine their adrenalin-filled lives.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL IN THE WORLD, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
A Lioness. Own the space. The pride. I am Mothership.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T LEARN FROM YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE ALONE?
I love pictures.
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 was #teamcoffee until recently, I jumped ship and now #teamwarmwater first thing in the morning while I go through my day with Cortana. My executive assistant, thanks to O365.
HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
Planning. I am fortunate enough that I was an Executive Assistant in my previous life. It helps me maintain order in my life. I make notes, use the calendar, sticky notes you name it to ensure that I am in control of the day and not the other way round.
YOU HAVE ACCUMULATED AN ENVIOUS AMOUNT OF EXPERIENCE HAVING WORKED FOR TOP-TIER COMPANIES SUCH AS SIEMENS, DISCOVERY INVEST AS WELL AS NOKIA SIEMENS. WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THESE ROLES? HOW ARE YOU APPLYING THESE EXPERIENCES IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE AT Microsoft?
Tolerance and respect.
These two qualities go a long way, especially when working on a global level. As South Africans, we are diverse enough. Now add different time-zones and accents to the mix and you can have a disaster if you’re not a tolerant and respectful individual.
YOU OBTAINED YOUR CERTIFICATE FOR BRAND AND MARKETING MANAGEMENT FROM VEGA (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?
Social media etiquette is pretty much a needed skill. Young women should start positioning themselves on social media and follow their prospective employers. One of the beautiful things about Covid-19 was how most companies came to the party to up-skill their communities. Create a learning path and be committed to completing the courses and update your LinkedIn profiles.
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?
This is solely dependent on the reasons for job-hopping. The world of Advertising and Marketing requires passion. If this is not evident from the individual, I am afraid job-hopping is justified. The company and employee’s brand values need to align somehow.
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?
The most important ingredient is passion. And as females we’re very passionate beings *winks*
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?
Security. Remote working
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?
Mentorship is crucial and takes some time to find the right one. I was able to only found the right individual in 2019.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS SOME OF THE MAJOR TRENDS IN DIGITAL IN THE NEXT 12 TO 18 MONTHS?
As Marketers, in-person events have always been our big wins. However, Covid-19 took us out of our comfort zones with webinars being the leading marketing tool. We’re going virtual in full-force in the next 12 to 18 months and changing the landscape of what used to be in-person activities.
2021 AND BEYOND
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I am reading ‘And Then Mama said…‘ by Tumi Morake. Definitely a paperback reader, with a personalised book-marker.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
Schitt’s Greek, Frankie and Grace, Greenleaf and interesting enough Dirty John Betty Broderick
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?
As a hugger, this has been quite a challenging time for me. So close enough would be to lock our eyes as we greet, as they are the windows to our souls and also aren’t covered in masks.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
Mam Ruby from the office canteen. I did call her a few times after lockdown and haven’t been able to lately and really hope she’s well.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
It looks all fun and games, but it’s hard work and requires integrity. Don’t ever take your contribution for granted.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
You don’t have to have it all figured out. Take your time.
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?
Trying to overcome the loss of my little Sister. She passed away last year, two days after my birthday and I have never been the same. At 42, I felt like I was introduced to death for the first time. Her loss hurts a lot.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
I would definitely love to study further and avail myself to mentoring young and upcoming Marketers.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES?
I have a special place for single working Moms. They are my everyday heroes.