Sharlenee Moodley featured image for naughtybanana
Women In Marketing,  South Africa

Women In Marketing 2023 Edition ft. Sharlenee Moodley from Fireblade Aviation

Sharlenee Moodley, originally from KwaZulu-Natal, shared her inspiring journey in this segment of Women In Marketing. Highlighting her rise from humble beginnings to a leadership role at Fireblade Aviation. The COVID-19 pandemic served as a catalyst for her to complete her studies, reflecting her resilience and adaptability. Throughout her career, Sharlenee remains humble, attributing her success to the value of hard work.

Personal Background:

Thanks for taking the time to participate in our ‘Women In Marketing’ feature. Where were you born, and what childhood memories stand out for you?

I was born in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal. I have so many great childhood memories; to single out one would be difficult. Growing up in a small town and coming from humble beginnings is the backdrop I can share. I did simple yet memorable things as a child. I was such a tomboy, so playing cricket, swimming at the public pool, building a tree house all stand out for me 🙂 

Sharlenee Moodley in a helicopter. Supplied for Women In Marketing interview

Describe your high school and college years. You were the coolest one, right?

I was by far not the cool one! The funny one, most definitely. I have always been the talkative and class clown; that has never left me to date. I still love to engage and believe in having fun in everything I do. 

What’s your favourite meal that you wouldn’t share with anyone?

Biryani. I love my biryani. 

What would be your plans for a sudden $10 million windfall if you were to receive it tomorrow?

Buy a plot of land, open a facility for abused animals, ensure my family are well taken care of and live my life just protecting and saving all things furry. 


Can you share an interesting fact or hidden talent not found on your LinkedIn profile? Previous Women in Marketing candidate Anastasia Hamel says that she can breathe fire!

So, I love to sing. I love music – it lights a fire in me. Many people don’t know that I can sing. I also love making TikToks with my dancing German Shepherd, Poncho 🙂 

Career and Work:

How do you typically start your day, and are you #TeamCoffee, #TeamTea, or both?

I got introduced to Spearmint tea. So I guess you can say I am #teamtea. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in marketing? Didn’t the “I want to become a doctor” bug bite you?

I wanted to become a Vet. At the time, my family was not in a financial position that would allow me to study to become a Vet. I never really had marketing on the list of career choices.  I have always been creative; I’ve always been able to be an innovative thinker, but I never knew about marketing. I believe that Marketing chose me. It allowed me to do what I do best. It’s something that comes naturally. 

If you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life, and that describes my passion for marketing, especially strategic marketing. 

You hold a BCOM in Marketing and Management Science from IMM (You Go Girl!!). Considering the rise of online educational platforms like Coursera and Google Skillshop, how do you foresee the future of tertiary-based education?

I received my BCOM at a late stage. I started my career by simply learning from those around me. However, I needed to pursue my degree as it provides the foundation that every person needs. I have done various online courses, and they are great. Tertiary-based education is still relevant.

Many industries had to create systems overnight that would enable their respective workforces to work from home due to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s your perspective on remote and hybrid work, and how have you dealt with its challenges? Do you have a preference?

In marketing, I get my spark from those around me. It was challenging to some extent. A hybrid-work approach is more favourable as this creates balance. For me, the challenge was the isolation. Online meetings are unable to offer the human contact that people need. I was able to adapt to it, however. When the time came to move into a more hybrid environment, it worked much better for me as I now had contact with employees, clients and stakeholders. On the other hand, I got quiet time working remotely, which allowed me to be more productive. 

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AI is the hot topic of the day, most specifically, generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Google Bard. How do you address the challenges you face in your day-to-day responsibilities? Any particular tools you’d like to plug us with? 

I love this world we live in. The technology is mind-blowing – it provides a great experience in both professional and private settings. However, no matter what technology may come, you still need that human aspect to manage it. 

According to the WEF, the pandemic caused a 4.2% reduction in women’s employment compared to 3% of men (from 2019 to 2020). How can organisations better support women and mothers, especially in light of the pandemic’s impact on women in the workplace?

I am blessed to be in an organisation that supports women and mothers. As a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, and most importantly, a professional, we need balance. Wellness programs within the organisation play a pivotal role. What you implement to support (not just women) for mental health, self-care etc. is the magic ingredient to nourishing a positive work environment.

Graph showing employment levels amongst genders from 2006 until 2021
Source: ILO

How can organizations ensure equal opportunities for women to advance into executive positions?

Culture and mindset shifts are important. However, you need the right leadership team to drive this narrative. We live in a world where women can do what men can do; organizations need leadership that is aware of this. I have a GREAT leadership team. My managing director is female and is, by the way, the first female in the business to lead that role.

Our executive team (which includes another female and three other males) focuses on skills, experience and passion to grow the business. This is the type of leadership we need that drives a new age culture, not a culture that focuses on whether you are male or female but whether you are skilled, experienced and have a passion for what you do. 

2023 and Beyond:

How have you been since the start of the pandemic, and have there been any significant personal or professional moments from then until now?

The pandemic changed my life. I used this opportunity to complete my degree, where I had two years left, and I completed my final modules in just a year. I used the opportunity for self-reflection, to look at where I was, where I needed to be and what I wanted. Ultimately, it led me to change jobs which led me to where I am today – right where I want to be. With all the bad that was apparent during the period, I was able to create some sunshine in the rain 🙂 

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?

I would not give myself advice per se. I would give myself a “fist pump”, lol. Our past and choices lead us to where we are. My journey has never been easy. There have been many bumps in the road and times when I felt the need to give up, but I never did. I always choose to wake up and see the brighter side of things. I always choose to be happy. I would tell my younger self to make the mistakes she makes, to make the wrong choices. Eventually, they build you up and take you where you need to be. 

What are your goals or aspirations, whether related to your professional or personal life that you hope to achieve in the future? We are positive that we will see you in the Forbes’ Most Influential CMO’s list.

I always strive to stand out without the spotlight. I want to be known for my creative projects and to have an impact on the lives of the people around me. I want to create a legacy through the work I do. As far as my personal goals are concerned, when achieving success, I strive to do so with humility. I want to remain humble through achieving ultimate success in all I do. 

Who are some of your sheroes?

My best friend whom I’ve been friends with since we were three years old. Our story and upbringing are similar. She is such an inspiration to me. She has worked hard to become a lawyer and is highly respected within the Pietermaritzburg community. She gives back so much and expects nothing in return. She has always been my sheroe and always will be. 

What are you currently reading, and how do you consume your content?

I’m reading a book called ‘The Universe Has Your Back’ by Gabrielle Bernstein. I am old-school, so definitely paperback 🙂 

What are you currently streaming that you’d recommend?

Believe it or not, I am watching The Mentalist for the second time 🙂 

You wake up one day and before you know it you are nearing retirement. What would you like your professional legacy to be? Furthermore, what do your colleagues and superiors admire about you the most?

I want to be known for being part of the key change in making the business the success that it is destined to be. 

What am I admired for… hmmm – I think my humour as well as a passion for what I do. Furthermore, my ability to be a creative problem solver has served me well. 

Share a unique message for young professionals in the marketing industry.

Let your passion direct you. It is through that passion that we create and innovate. Never doubt yourself and most importantly, always have fun when doing what you do 🙂 

Thank you for your time, Sharlenee. We hope this interview will inspire future leaders and other Women in Marketing. How can people follow you and your company on social media? 

They can invite me via LinkedIn – Sharlenee Naidoo. Same with our company Fireblade Aviation


As Managing Director at naughtybanana, I am responsible for leading and managing the organisation’s marketing strategies and business development. I am involved in driving brand awareness, customer acquisition, and revenue growth through effective marketing initiatives, market research, and collaboration with cross-functional teams. I have experience working with clients in various industries such as defi, crypto, music and events, consumer packaged goods to name a few. I am passionate about entrepreneurship and creative problem-solving which help me stay updated on industry trends and foster innovation to drive the organization’s competitive advantage in the market.