Tracy is a Digital Practitioner at I Heart Digital. The Durban born creative loves to dance and her passion for the arts allowed her to explore other interests such as writing and music. If the Swiss Army Knife was a person! Tracy shares with us her burnout experience and explains why its important to switch off from work in order to rejuvenate. Very important, especially in these times we find ourselves in. 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, TRACY. LET’S START ON A LIGHTER NOTE. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
I was born and raised along the sunny and humid coast of Durban, where I spent most of my childhood playing on the beach and swimming in the ocean. From an early age, I started Ballet classes, for which I had talent! My love for dancing encouraged me to pursue a life of studying different forms of creative art; from acting to writing, singing, and music. Little did I know, I would make a career out of my passion for creativity.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a love for words. My grandmother was a published author; she wrote children’s books and travelled across South Africa to promote her work at local schools. She was my heroine. I dreamed of one day being a paid writer, and well, I guess I have reached that goal by creating content for Social Media, Websites, and Blog articles.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
In High School, I was a total nerd!
I had been involved in the performing arts since I was a young girl. My life revolved around extra classes, exams, and after-school musical theatre. I dedicated all of my spare time to ‘being an overachiever’. In High School, I mainly focussed my time on music and singing, which lead me to achieve a personal goal of singing for the prestigious KZN Youth Choir.
I received Full Colours for this achievement (still super impressed with that)!
The choir toured South Africa performing in concerts, competitions, and so on. We also spent some time at SABC studio recording an album each year. Singing for KZNYC was one of the best things I have ever experienced in my life with the most incredible memories.
During the lockdown, I took part in a choir Alumni reunion, where we recorded ourselves (at home obviously) performing a choral piece by Rachmaninoff called ‘Bogorodietse Devo’. We did this to help spread peace and calm among those struggling during Covid-19 hard lockdown earlier in 2020.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
If I could be any animal, I’d be a honey badger 😛 Not just because they are adorably cute, but because they are known as one of the most fearless animals on planet earth!
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
Pizza! A fresh and hot pizza, sporting a delicious thin crunchy crust, woodfire oven-baked, with all of the cheese!
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
I would invest my money in philanthropy.
My days would be filled with looking for those deserving of a boost in life and provide them with better opportunities in education and employment. Or, I’d help them to develop their entrepreneurial spirit and ideas. In turn, they would create more employment opportunities and relieve the pressures of our ever-growing poverty line.
WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, DR. LIEZEL BYGATE SAID THAT SHE IS AN EXPERT HULA-HOOPER!
I was a professional Arabic and Egyptian belly dancer during my early twenties. I spent five years training and performing in shows. I have my Grade 2 through B.D.A.S.A.
I wanted to be a professional dancer and teacher. Unfortunately, though, I sustained a shoulder injury that held me back.
My most memorable performance was when I danced for Sheiks, Oil Princes and also the famous Bollywood star -> Amitabh Bachchan!
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
After I realised there was little to no money in the performance art careers in South Africa, I decided to lean into creative writing and media which is, of course, my second love.
Upon completion of my 3-year higher diploma in Public Relations, Media and Communication Science, I realised that I had a knack for the industry and fell head-over-heels in love with it!
I spent a few years hopping around, from company-to-company trying out different departments related to PR and Marketing until I found my home was in the exciting, open-minded, critical thinking, loud, creative, and dynamic departments of 1. Marketing, 2. Advertising, 3. Graphic Design, 4. IT and Web Dev, etc.
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
Well, I start my day off by checking Facebook and WhatsApp with one eye open, like most of the world! I then roll out of bed and head over to the kettle to make a strong cup of coffee and grab a Woolies rusk to munch at my desk. I choose a song that will get me motivated for the day ahead, music fuels creativity! I blast it loudly to wake up and start creating and planning the days’ activities.
HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I make sure that I start work when I am ready, which is usually around 9 am. I have a strict cut-off time in the early evening; I turn off my Mac and put my phone on silent and focus on my homely duties. Unless I have a VIP campaign running, or we are working on a live website project with a tight deadline, I am usually unavailable in the evening for the very purpose of needing to switch off, unplug and destress.
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?
Mentorship is important!
I have had the pleasure of receiving mentorship from industry professionals in the early years of my career.
We are all still friends, and I enjoy touching base once in a while and letting them know how far I have come and how thankful I am to them for what they taught me.
WHAT’S YOUR SMARTEST WORK-RELATED SHORTCUT OR PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
I’ll give you a few:
Work smarter, not harder.
Always under-promise and over-deliver.
Pre-empt the client’s needs before they arrive and then deliver while blowing their mind!
Be humble and always be honest!
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?
Job hopping used to be a big NO-NO!
I had never been one to adhere to other people’s rules, especially if their ‘rules’ made no sense to me and what I needed to do to achieve my goals. Job hopping is only helpful when you have a specific objective in mind.
Take my career for example. When I reached a point of knowing all that I could about a certain job title and had reached a state of no-more-growth (stagnation), I would look for a new opportunity that would aide my end-goal of being self-employed and having my own special Agency brand.
I would not stick around at a company if I felt I did not fit in or if I saw that I was being disrespected or mistreated in any way. There is a right way and wrong way, to end a professional relationship. Therein lies the skill needed to end the relationship amicably, and the life lesson learned to carry with you to your next chapter.
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?
Well, the future is Female!
Although, in 2021 we are encouraged to be more inclusive which means being female doesn’t necessarily apply to the sex assigned to you at birth. But rather, a mental and emotional state of balance that applies to a condition of thinking and operating, interpersonally and also intrinsically.
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?
The most common challenge women face is sexual abuse and discrimination of intelligence based on the mere fact that we are Female. It is assumed that women are not smart if we have long flowing curly locks, a pretty face, big beautiful eyes, large breasts, and a great set of legs.
And we will most certainly be treated as if we cannot cope, nor possibly grasp anything that requires even a moderate form of intelligence.
Which isn’t true!
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?
My opinion is, people were groomed to be ‘managed’ by superiors and taught to be told what and how to do their job on time, or else, they would be put in the ‘naughty corner’ so to speak.
Although management is still a necessity, people can get the tools to be self-managed, it just takes some training and application of certain NLP tactics and supplying software that is available to ensure tasks are completed properly and on time.
Being self-employed and a freelancer for over ten years, we all learned how to do this and what programs worked best for remote work, well, to work!
The only issue that is quite a big one, in my opinion, is the loneliness and the isolation that comes with working remotely and from home. People need people!
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?
I have experienced this burnout. Many years ago!
What that lesson taught me is that humans cannot work 24/7, simply because Social Media does not have an off switch. We need a break. We need to turn off our brains, and to separate working online from playing online. And that’s OK
AY! Set reasonable times to work, and times to switch off and play! Do not ever cross the healthy and reasonable boundaries you have set with your company, or client (unless there is a real emergency).
Make sure to GO OUTSIDE AND SOCIALISE WITH REAL PEOPLE!
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?
A product or an idea, in this case referring to artificial intelligence, is then innovative when it stands out from the rest and truly makes the end user’s lives much easier.
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?
The future of marketing, according to what I am observing in 2021, is more and more REAL people with talent, sporting REAL products or services that apply to people of similar interest.
Relevance, relevance, RELEVANCE!
2020 AND BEYOND
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Take all of the risks, learn all of the lessons, and make sure you have good-hearted, trustworthy, and REAL people in your life who don’t say YES to everything you say!
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?
The challenge I am facing with a start-up business that is 2-years old is, of course, COVID-19 and how the economy has crashed globally. A time to reinvent and repurpose one’s skills.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
Professionally speaking: I wish I could work on the Nandos brand! I believe we would be a good fit!
Personally speaking: I want to travel the world and experience as much as I can till I have nowhere left to visit!
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
My first is my Gran, who is sadly no longer with us.
She taught me how to love writing and poetry. She showed me how to enjoy travel, nature, people, cultures, and experiencing all that I can about my country (and when I’ve seen all of SA, to do the same thing except apply it to the world).
My second, since the USA elections, Kamala Harris is representing us all in the senate!
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I enjoy reading both digital and paperback books! I take pleasure in reading self-help books as well as autobiographies of artists, especially musicians I enjoy!
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
If I could come back and do it all again, I would probably be a Chef who travels the world and cooks for the rich and famous (with my online cooking channel, of course!).
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
1. The Queens’ Gambit
2. Star Trek: Discovery
3. The Crown
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
Honestly, I have nobody that comes to mind. In general, I do try my best to be painfully annoying on WhatsApp and Facebook to keep in touch with people I love and care about all over the world.
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AMAZING WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO GET IN TOUCH WITH?
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Be your unique brand!
Don’t ever conform!
Take calculated risks!
Network as much as you can!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME TRACY. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU AND YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Find us on Facebook -> www.facebook.com/iheartdigital
Follow us on Instagram -> www.instagram.com/i_heart_digital
Visit our website -> www.iheartdigital.co.za