“I believe that sometimes when you know you want to head towards a certain direction, you should prepare yourself even when you don’t know which path you should take.”Iviwe Poti
Starting out as an esteemed journalist at SABC, Iviwe has successfully changed gears and is now a corporate communications officer for Isuzu. She shares her journey on this segment of Women In Marketing.
THE JOURNEY TAKEN
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career in marketing? How’d you end up at Isuzu?
Well, 🙂 I was a journalist prior to coming over to Isuzu.
In life, I believe that sometimes when you know you want to head towards a certain direction, you should prepare yourself even when you don’t know which path you should take.
I had the greatest time being a journalist for the SABC, and it offered me so many opportunities, I became a live broadcast presenter and the pressure was great adrenaline, but one day I sat back to think, after all this, telling stories, travelling for work, what next what will I do where will I apply myself, and I knew Communications is my first love so I must remain there. I did a PR course through UCT, just paving the way you know – When the Isuzu offer came up I was so excited and that’s how I landed up as a corporate communications officer.
What have you learned at Isuzu that you had not learned at previous companies?
Wow in this short space of time at Isuzu I have learnt so much. I have learnt that a team holding hands really can go a long way. I obviously had to adapt and change but my job also cuts across; employee engagement and messaging, working with marketing, brainstorming video concept, talking to social media and also communicating with the media and general public.
I am part of a dynamic team. At Isuzu we are all on a first-name basis, which is pretty cool, there is an open door policy and in the passages, everyone smiles and greets. I know it sounds almost impossible because its corporate and everyone is busy – but really the atmosphere coming to work is great, so through the values of the company I actually realised that the employees actually live those values. Each one is able to set their goals and work towards them. I was a tad scared of corporate, but really I have learnt if I do my bit to keep the chain going everything is okay.
Several studies reveal that women account for the majority of purchase decisions including traditional male products such as automobiles, consumer electronics as well as home improvement products. Despite this, surveys show that advertisers still do not understand women. Why do you think this is the case and what should change?
Women should never be put in a box, they generally go for what makes them happy, which is always a surprise for many.
What does the word feminist mean to you?
Taking a keen interest in anything relating to women’s rights..
Who are some of your female heroes?
My Mother and Grandmother :).
What steps can companies take to make their businesses more equal in terms of pay and employees with regards to gender?
Honestly, people must be dealt with as individuals, based on their performance and capabilities.
As a woman in the marketing and communications environment, what challenges do you face within and outside the organisation? What message do you have for other female professionals in the fraternity?
I have not experienced any challenges, or maybe I have not allowed anything of the sort to be a challenge for me. The message I have for professionals is to never be apologetic for who you are, take time to learn and observe but never shy away from applying yourself.
ENTERING THE WORKPLACE
What does your typical day of work look like? How does your calendar look and are you a coffee or tea kind of person?
Coffee, Coffee and Coffee, my day normally starts with a cup, then structuring whom I’ll be talking to and what I’ll be doing, so, at most, it’s my manager and team talking about the next communication to be prepared whether it be internal or external. We’d also discuss our internal magazine, then we would look at our social media.
COVID-19 has been a disruption to a number of organisations. So much that several businesses, small and big alike either having to cut down on staff or being forced to close down. On the same token, however, several organisations have used this time to regroup and use this as an opportunity for change in structure and processes. How has your organisation and specifically, your department, countered against the impact brought by the pandemic?
We continue to work, fortunately for us, we are able to continue with our duties from home. Our managers check on us at least twice a week and mainly to ask if we, personally are okay. Work-wise we are fortunate to be part of a team that trusts us as individuals and I think once there is trust in any relationship there is immediately a motive to excel.
Remote work and video conferencing have become proverbial overnight celebrities. Some say that it has been long overdue whilst others are struggling to adjust this new normal. What is your take on this and how have you structured your work accordingly?
It has opened our eyes to what we have all been anticipating in terms of what the 4IR will possibly feel like. My work, with Microsoft teams, phone calls and texting all is okay.
What makes something innovative? How do you define innovation at Isuzu?
For me I would say, coming together as a team and brainstorming some creative and sometimes crazy ideas, to come out with a great concept representing company values.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Personally I would say WhatsApp, makes life so much easier being able to connect with people via that platform, you can call, video call and text.
2020 AND BEYOND
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information? Physical book vs Reader?)
I like physical books, I’ve just always been that way, currently reading ‘Everyday uBuntu‘ by Nompumelelo Mungi Ngomane. I like books I can relate to, I love African literature even if it’s fiction. The stories keep me hooked. Sometimes to understand leaders better I’ll read their biographies.
A unique message for all young professionals in the marketing industry
Be true to who you are, don’t let go of your dreams, learn and absorb from others and find yourself in between all that.
Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read
Any bucket list items (professional as well as personal)?
Travel, I’d love to see Ghana and go to the UK
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Be yourself, you are amazing and have lots to offer, never stop learning, there is a lot to learn from everyone – Dad
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Nothing is personal in the working environment, everything should make you a stronger professional.
Which superhero/heroine or literature icon exemplifies your personality at work and at home?
Man, id say I’m a Power puff of some sort 🙂