Nosipho Matlala featured image, women in marketing
Women In Marketing,  South Africa

Women In Marketing 2024 Edition ft. Nosipho Matlala from Ogilvy South Africa

Nosipho Matlala, Creative Group Head at Ogilvy South Africa, shared her illustrious background and career journey with us on this segment of Women In Marketing. Born and raised in Durban, Nosipho excelled academically, which kept her focused and away from trouble. She has a passion for storytelling and was inspired to pursue a career in marketing and advertising to enhance narratives in the industry. Nosipho shared how the challenges of COVID-19 expanded her creative capabilities and how she actively raises awareness about mental illness in the creative industry. Additionally, she discussed her use of Generative AI tools and how this technology has assisted her in her role

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?

Born and raised in KZN in one of the biggest townships in Durban (UMlazi NUZ). One of my most cherished childhood memories is playing house in the neighbourhood forest with my friends. I always played the role of the mom, of course. The forest was quite spacious, and we decided to make it our little sanctuary. We scoured the neighbourhood for old, unwanted furniture, collecting whatever we could find to build our makeshift home. We even cooked there, lighting a fire and using tins to prepare our meals. We’d sneak into our homes to steal ingredients, adding an element of adventure to our forest escapades. It was our special hideaway, where imagination and camaraderie thrived.

Childhood photo of Nosipho. Provided for Women In Marketing

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

Hahaha, I love that you think I was the coolest one. Well, if wearing the longest skirt in school, carrying the heaviest bag, taking extra subjects just for vibes, and still passing at the top of my class was cool, then I guess I was! Take me back to high school so I can tell my classmates that. Honestly, I was a bit of a nerd, and it kept me far from trouble, so I’d say that was pretty cool! I would say, though, that college got a bit better.

I became more open to cool hangouts and fun activities, balancing my studies with a more vibrant social life. It was a time of growth and new experiences, making my journey even more exciting.

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

Ikabishi (Cabbage), rice, and boerewors on the side—my grandmother’s meal. She cooked it for us a lot when we were growing up, and I still love it. Best believe I am ready to throw fists if I ever have to share this meal. No way! It’s an absolute fave.

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

A sudden $10 million windfall… hectic! Firstly, I’m going to Paris for breakfast. Just kidding, but I would build my dream home and build a home for my mom. I would give back to my church and other charities, open education trusts for my kids, and travel the world. Lastly, I’ve always wanted to do this: I’d buy all the ad space and give it to small businesses.

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!

Lol, wait ok! This feels like the perfect time to finally expose something: not many people I know are aware of this, but I was part of a band with three boys and me as the only girl. We recorded songs that have been on YouTube, and I can’t delete them because I forgot my login details for that account. Anyway, I released a mixtape and thought I was going to pursue a career in singing. You’re so lucky—I’m going to give you a scoop on one of the songs, titled “Incwadi Yothando Afro Mix” by Nosi. Check it out below:

Career and Work:

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

Oh, I’m mos’ definitely #TeamCoffee! Typically, I start my day at Seattle Coffee for my daily dose of their Grande Cappuccino with a pump of vanilla. Then I head straight to the office around 9 a.m. to start my day. On some days it’s Gym from 7 am-8 am, then Coffee run, then Office.

Nosipho, on her coffee run. Provided for Women In Marketing

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

Funny story: my reason for choosing a career in marketing was due to feeling uninspired. Let me tell you the story. One evening, I was at home with my grandmother, watching the news. During the ad break, a Joko tea commercial came on—the one with the grandmother cleaning a hall, set to the song “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” I remember it like it was yesterday. I loved the ad; it was joyful and cute. But then, as the camera panned out and I saw how big the hall was, I realised the woman cleaning it looked almost as old as my grandmother.

Growing up with my grandmother, we drank a lot of tea. If you grew up with a grandmother, you know tea time is a staple. I remember feeling so relaxed and exhausted after drinking tea—there was no way I could muster the energy to clean a whole hall, and neither could my grandmother.

Nosipho at work, provided for Women In Marketing

That ad made me angry because, while I understood the message—that Joko tea gives you the push you need—the execution threw me off. From that day, I decided that I wanted to create better narratives for our grandmothers and communities. I wanted to sell products in a way that truly reflected who we are and how these products make us feel. My grandmother would never have the energy to clean a whole hall after drinking tea, and I felt it was important to represent that reality in marketing.

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?

I enjoyed working remotely or in a hybrid setup at some point because it was beneficial for me as a mom. I got to spend a lot of time at home and still be able to work, which I found very advantageous. COVID-19 taught us that you don’t always have to be at a specific place to work. It helped foster trust between employees and companies, fostering a more flexible working environment.

The Future of Remote Work, According to Startups. Women In Marketing 3
How productive is remote work? According to Visual Capitalist

Working remotely required a lot of personal growth, discipline, and accountability. I enjoyed it because it helped me grow as a creative and take responsibility for my work without being micromanaged. However, the challenge came when the work-life balance was not recognized properly. There were times when the expectation to work full hours or even overtime, blurred the lines between work and personal life.

The entitlement some companies had over employees’ time beyond regular work hours became a significant issue. While remote and hybrid work has its benefits, companies must navigate it properly. Some have managed to strike a good balance, while others still struggle with recognizing and respecting work-life boundaries.

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

AI couldn’t have come at a better time, especially as ways of working and processes were becoming unnecessarily cumbersome. AI has shown that while human authenticity is irreplaceable, there is a level of thinking and assistance needed to best leverage and improve our ideas. 

As an Art Director, it’s crucial to professionally and creatively articulate your ideas in a way that they can be understood and well-supported with a strong rationale. Top of my AI recommendations is, of course, ChatGPT—it’s a girl’s best friend (don’t tell anyone, but I wrote this and asked ChatGPT to proofread it for grammar and spelling).

Next on my list of AI platforms that continually save me in my daily endeavours is Midjourney. This platform has been an absolute lifesaver for storyboarding and visual storytelling. However, I’ve recently learned that Midjourney pulls its content from various platforms, which means some material could be copyrighted.

Therefore, I advise thoroughly vetting it for brand commission work to avoid legal complications. Despite this, it’s an amazing platform, and I love that it’s continuously improving and evolving, making the future super exciting. I’ve also explored some audio generators and voice-over platforms. While I haven’t found anything amazing yet, I have a big interest in finding the perfect one.

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?

One thing I have noticed is that the pandemic really said; you can get it done at home which then poses the question: why go back? 

The workforce needed to adopt a more flexible work model after the pandemic, such as remote work options. Continuing to offer remote or hybrid work models can accommodate the diverse needs of women, especially mothers balancing childcare and work responsibilities. This is crucial, considering that when the pandemic hit, working moms felt the impact the most. Juggling work and childcare simultaneously took a toll on their mental health.

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

Therefore, implementing extended paternity leave is essential. This means ensuring generous and gender-neutral parental leave policies that allow both parents to share childcare responsibilities. Additionally, mental health support, including counselling services and stress management programs, is vital for overall well-being. Lastly, promoting a culture that values work-life balance through policies and practices that prevent burnout and encourage well-being is essential for a healthier and more productive workforce.

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

Hectic! The fact that it’s 2024 and we are still having to speak on these issues is on its own but here we are. Well, organisations can ensure equal opportunities for women to advance in executive positions by focusing on merit and qualifications rather than gender. By offering equal opportunities for all to thrive, we can break down the historical hierarchies that have limited women’s growth.

Both men and women go through the same rigorous education and training; therefore, the playing field should be level when it comes to career advancement. Prioritising human potential over gender distinctions will lead to fairer opportunities and better organisational outcomes. This human-first approach is the foundation for meaningful change.

2024 and Beyond:

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

I would say: avoid debt—save up and buy things with cash. Also, be authentically you. The industry needs more truth and originality. Don’t be afraid to explore your creativity and show the world who you truly are.

What are your personal or professional goals and aspirations for the future? We hope to see you on Forbes’ Most Influential CMOs list. No pressure!

In the future, I see myself growing professionally as a creative, thriving in a leadership role where I guide and empower a larger team with authenticity and truth. I want to inspire creatives to dig deeper and excel – to always strive for Gold. 

Nosipho going through her art, provided for Women In Marketing

I aspire to help people emotionally, potentially working in the therapy or psychological space. Having observed the prevalence of mental illness among creatives, I aim to merge my psychology knowledge with my creative background to support and heal creatives, enabling them to produce ideas from a place of emotional well-being. In the past I’ve explored art to reach out to those struggling with mental illness, creating works that convey the internal, often misunderstood, emotions associated with these conditions. 

I have an illustration project titled ‘Mental Squad’ which explores various mental illnesses through illustrations designed to evoke understanding and empathy. My goal is to continue pushing the boundaries in this area, fostering healing and generating powerful, healthy ideas.

Who are some of your sheroes?

My heroes and sheroes? That’s easy. At the top of the list is every Black Woman excelling in the industry. There’s nothing more powerful and inspiring than seeing women in spaces where they were once excluded. I deeply admire and have a huge crush on all these Black Women who have overcome immense challenges to be where they are. Their achievements are groundbreaking and inspire the next generation.

A special shout-out goes to my best friend, Bibi Bonnecwe. She is truly killing it, she’s a powerhouse and my personal shero.

Another group of sheroes are all the moms out there. As a mom myself, I see the incredible strength, grace, and love that women bring to the world. Despite societal pressures, they continue to thrive in their roles. Women are a tremendous powerhouse, and I have immense admiration for all women out there, big or small, who wake up every day and push forward.

Nosipho's kids. Provided for Women In Marketing

What are you currently streaming that you’d recommend?

Currently, I’m watching ‘The8Show’ on Netflix, which has a concept similar to *Squid Game*. Koreans have mastered creating compelling concepts around childhood games, and this series is no exception. It features eight individuals trapped in an eight-story building, forced to participate in dangerous and tempting game shows. Each room has a timer that allows them to earn money based on their time spent there and participation in activities.

The participants, who are in desperate financial need, were randomly chosen and had to select a key upon entering the building. The series delves into their backgrounds and how they ended up in this situation. As the story progresses, it explores themes of greed, money, and societal hierarchy. The higher floors have better living conditions, while the lower floors get the leftovers, mirroring societal structures and the disparity between the rich and the poor. The show gets increasingly dark as the experiment unfolds, revealing the lengths people will go to for money.

It’s an intense and thought-provoking watch, reminiscent of ‘The Platform’ on Netflix, illustrating how the rich consume the resources of the poor. Check it out, it’s worth the watch.

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?

Nosipho with colleagues. Provided for Women In Marketing

In retirement, I hope my professional legacy is that I stood for great ideas and pushed people to their limitless potential. I want to be remembered for my humour and as someone who made good jokes, believing that I’m an entertaining person. My colleagues see me as tough because I teach tough and push them hard, driven by the belief that there are no limits in this industry. They’ll say I always gave people choices: to be the quiet one in the back or the memorable loud one.

I value hard work and good ethics, and while I may come across as strict, it’s because of my commitment to my purpose and upbringing. Ultimately, I hope to be admired as a woman of truth who speaks honestly, no matter how intense it may be, both professionally and personally.

We are always looking for amazing Women In Marketing to profile. Who would you like us to get in touch with? 

Bibi Bonnecwe for sure!

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

To young professionals in the marketing industry: the industry demands resilience. Be prepared for your ideas to be criticised and sometimes rejected — develop a thick skin. Enjoy the journey and bring your authentic self to the table. The most impactful ideas are those that come from within and resonate with people because of their authenticity. Strive to create ideas that live beyond presentation decks and can change someone’s life. Above all, enjoy yourself, stay away from drugs, and never drink and drive, despite the prevalence of alcohol in the industry.


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.