Pretoria born Pontsho is the Marketing Manager for PSG Wealth. A gifted wordsmith from a young age, her teachers would encourage her to pursue a career in journalism. Even though she began working as a magazine writer, she sought a challenge and subsequently found herself in the realm of marketing. Let’s learn more about her on this segment of women in marketing
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, PONTSHO. LET’S START ON A LIGHTER NOTE. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
I was born in the north of Pretoria, in Ga-Rankuwa.
My childhood was spent in various places, from my maternal grandmother’s house in Ga-Rankuwa to my later years in Soshanguve – and there were a few years that I lived further out in Hammanskraal (way up north!) with my paternal grandmother. But most of my memories are of spending the festive season in Ga-Rankuwa with my cousins. Back then, we had very little monetarily but were so rich in other ways.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
I’ve always been a bookworm.
I wouldn’t exactly say I was a nerd since I had decent social skills. But my love for the written word and storytelling started early and I was encouraged by my various teachers in high school. That was the reason I chose to study Journalism when it came time to go to tertiary. I heard that journalism was literature in fast-forward – I was sold!
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
A giraffe. It’s gorgeous (I mean, look at those lashes!) and relatively chilled.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
Pasta. It shouldn’t have a million ingredients but should have a delicious sauce. Yum!
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
Easy – travel. I believe the best stories are in the pages of a passport. So I would organise a world tour with my loved ones. And of course, I’ll invest some – get a few properties – just to show I’m adulting.
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
Pursue sounds so intentional LOL. I stumbled into marketing on my way from journalism while looking for a new story to tell.
Let me explain – I started my career mainly as a magazine writer but after some time felt like I needed a change and a challenge. I moved into the ‘corporate communication’ space within financial services as a communication specialist and soon started growing roots as a communicator/marketer. I gained a love of telling the story of the companies I worked for – and here we are today.
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
I’m trying to be team hot water with lemon. On challenging mornings, however, I am team coffee. I always start my day by cleaning out my mailbox and then writing my daily to-do list. If I can’t list my priorities for the day, I feel unsettled.
HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I have not struggled with this or actively thought about it before lockdown. However, it is a challenge now that I’m working from home. With my office being my home, I’ve needed to create clear boundaries. I try to have clear working hours (though I often look up from my screen and it’s way past dinner time) and I do not work on the weekends unless necessary.
I make a concerted effort to dedicate some time to things that have nothing to do with my career. Such as those that bring me joy – be it working out, writing and re-writing my never-ending novel or just a simple at-home facial.
YOU HAVE A GREAT RESUME. YOU’VE WORKED FOR COMPANIES SUCH AS TIMES MEDIA GROUP, KPMG AS WELL AS OLD MUTUAL INVESTMENT. HOW IMPORTANT HAS LINKEDIN BEEN FOR YOU AND WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN LOOKING TO ESTABLISH THEIR PROFESSIONAL BRAND FOR NETWORKING PURPOSES?
Of course, LinkedIn is a great platform to connect with recruiters and possible future employers- that’s what most people sign up for on the site. But for me, it has given me access to some inspiring professionals. I’ve been able to find some amazing mentors on LinkedIn that I learn from as I mould my personal and professional brand.
I’ve also connected with some younger women looking for counsel as they build their careers. So my advice to any young women looking to establish their brand and network is to reach out to those people that align with your aspirations and values. Don’t just follow the person in the shadows – directly contact them to try and build a relationship with such people.
That’s when you’ll gain value from your LinkedIn network.
SABRA MWAURA WAS A FEATURE FOR OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES. SHE MADE A FEW GOOD POINTS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTORSHIP FOR WOMEN. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MENTORSHIP?
Some things I’ve learned about mentorship:
1) No matter what stage of life or career you are in, you can always benefit from a mentor.
2) The trick is to find the right mentor and to manage that relationship so that you both benefit from it.
3) It’s crucial for anyone who is asked to be a mentor to commit to it. Quite often, you find people liking the idea of being a mentor (from an ego perspective) but not being willing to put in the effort or the time. Now, if you have a mentor and mentee that are both committed and in sync about what they want to achieve, this can be a true life nurturing partnership.
4) And lastly, you can outgrow your mentor. You may come to a junction in your life where you realise that you need a new mentor to help you and that is fine.
Be thankful and honest with your existing mentor about this before you start looking for someone else to take the baton. Who knows, your current mentor may have some connections to the kind of mentor you need going forward.
WHAT’S YOUR SMARTEST WORK-RELATED SHORTCUT OR PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
I list the three big things I have to get done no matter what. The workday is full of meetings, and disruptions, and distractions. If you highlight your three big jobs and get those done, you win 🙂
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?
It is more about the reason you’ve job hopped. People don’t see a varied CV as a negative anymore, as long as you have credible reasons for leaving the previous positions.
FOR IT’S 2019 MOST INFLUENTIAL CMO’S REPORT, FORBES LISTED 31 WOMEN OUT OF 50 CANDIDATES (19 MEN). IT APPEARS THAT MORE WOMEN OCCUPY CMO ROLES COMPARED TO OTHER C-SUITE ROLES. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE CASE?
The fact that marketing has a lot more women than many other business functions likely has something to do with it. Also, in my experience, I’ve found that the “feminine” approach has often been well suited to handling a brand with discernment, care and responsibility.
REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN MARKETING, PARTICULARLY, IN SENIOR ROLES IS ON THE UP. IN YOUR OWN OPINION, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT WOMEN STILL FACE DESPITE THESE CHANGES AND HOW BEST SHOULD THESE BE ADDRESSED?
A lot of companies do not give the marketing function that respect and importance it deserves. Often looked down on as a “fluffy” creative role, many marketing departments have to fight for recognition still. The same goes for the many women who are in these departments.
ONE OF THE LEARNING CURVES FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC, IS THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURES TO FACILITATE REMOTE WORK. FOR TECH PLAYERS IN SILICON VALLEY THE TRANSITION WAS RELATIVELY SMOOTH WITH THE LIKES OF FACEBOOK AND TWITTER DESIGNING A FUTURE WHERE THEIR STAFF MAY POTENTIALLY WORK REMOTELY FOREVER. THE ARGUMENT THOUGH, IS THAT THIS IS LONG OVERDUE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY HAVE COMPANIES TAKEN SO LONG TO IMPLEMENT REMOTE WORK OPPORTUNITIES?
Most leaders know only one way of operating and managing a team – under one roof with face-to-face engagements. It’s not easy for them to turn that model on its head, especially in South Africa. However, this country has a relatively young workforce and adopting new ways of working (that include flexible hours and remote working) can make a company an employer of choice going forward.
But it will take a lot of unlearning.
WORKING FROM HOME IS AWESOME! MOST OF US CAN AGREE. HOWEVER, IT IS NOT WITHOUT IT’S SET OF CHALLENGES. EMPLOYEE WELLNESS HAS TAKEN A SIGNIFICANT STRAIN WITH PEOPLE WORKING LONGER HOURS AS A RESULT OF EMPLOYEES BEING ‘ALWAYS ON’ AND NOT BEING ABLE TO SWITCH OFF. HOW CAN EMPLOYERS GUARD AGAINST EMPLOYEE BURNOUT OR IN THE WORST EVENT, LOSING THEIR BEST TALENT?
Communication. Employers need to make it clear to their employees that the expectations are not to be “always-on”. This messaging should come from line managers and top leadership as well. If a work-life balance is seen as a priority, then employees will feel comfortable and entitled to shut down when necessary without compromising productivity.
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?
In my world innovation is creativity fueled by data to create growth. It’s about skillfully mixing art and science to produce left- and right-brained solutions for your business objectives. Leverage the data you have available and then boldly encourage the creativity within your team to identify the opportunities and then plan how to execute them.
HEMAL THAKKAR, BRAND MANAGER FOR BURGER KING INDIA IS A RECENT WOMEN IN MARKETING FEATURE. ONE OF THE KEY AREAS SHE IDENTIFIED FOR CONTINUED GROWTH IS THAT OF INFLUENCER MARKETING. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF MARKETING LOOK LIKE ACCORDING TO YOU?
In an increasingly digital world, successful marketers will be those who invest in agile marketing strategies. We are in a time that will reward imagination and innovation.
You want to be a brand that can quickly pivot its offerings to better react to the “new normal” induced by COVID-19. Or the next “unprecedented’ event.
2020 AND BEYOND
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Believe in yourself and take more risks. It’s okay to not know everything, nothing is rocket science and you will learn it as you live it.
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?
From a professional perspective, like most other marketers, I am learning how to build a brand within the new normal. We have to learn how to ensure our brand story connects with the target audience in a noisy digital space.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
1) Finally finish my book
2) Strengthen the brand presence of PSG Wealth
3) Learn to speak Italian.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
My mother, who was able to stretch whatever she had to allow us to explore our dreams. My aunt, who was ahead of her time when it came to gender roles. She made it clear when I was young that a woman was enough all by herself. And lastly, Oprah, for illustrating to all black people that your future isn’t dictated by your past.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing, I think I would come to be an environmental and human rights lawyer. I gravitate to any advocacy role for the vulnerable in our community.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
It’s ever-growing but the most recent additions are The Queen’s Gambit, Diamond City and Pieces of a Woman.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
One of my oldest friends. The lockdown has made it difficult to connect with her and my other friends. And with both of us being terrible with texts and phone calls, I will wait patiently until we can have a great brunch that bleeds into dinner.
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AMAZING WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO GET IN TOUCH WITH?
Sharmila Jaga – Marketing Manager at Old Mutual Investment Group
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Find a brand that aligns with your values. It will be so much easier to tell their story. Whether you are a designer, digital marketer or events coordinator, you need to believe in what you are selling first.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME PONTSHO. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU AND YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
You can follow me on LinkedIn by just searching for Pontsho Ramontsha. My handle on Instagram is pontshor.
Follow ‘PSG Wealth’ on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to stay tuned to our brand’s exciting growth story.