“I learned that no experience is useless and that we are constantly learning, constantly gaining, and constantly evolving”Miliswa Sitshwele
Miliswa is a Social Media Manager for Momentum. With a love for words, she grew up wanting to be a journalist. What changed? Let’s read more to find out 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 Momentum?
My career spans over a 10-year period. I graduated with a Journalism Diploma from the Durban University of Technology. Even though I did not practice as a journalist. My heart belongs to journalism. I started out as a Journalist many years ago at Flow communications. After many years of working there and learning the ins and outs of online journalism, I fell in love with the world of digital. I then moved to Native VML, Woman and Home, Awethu Project, and Momentum. I always say that Digital found me and became an extension of my life.
You have accumulated an envious amount of experience across various companies and agencies, from Flow Communications to Native VML. What did you learn from these roles and how do you apply experiences in your current role at Momentum?
I learned that no experience is useless and that we are constantly learning, constantly gaining, and constantly evolving. Every company I have worked for has allowed me an opportunity to learn and grow – both professionally and personally. I have taken all the learnings that I accumulated over the years and used them to grow in my career. Whether it was writing, photography, managing content uploads on backends, or learning how to edit videos. Everything that I have learned has come in handy.
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?
I think that the world was not set up with women in mind. In the olden days, women stayed at home and raised children. Nowadays things are different and women make decisions and have buying power. Advertisers need to engage with women, have them in those board meetings, and include them in the decision-making process. This will help them get into the mind of women and tailor their products specifically for them.
What have you learned at Momentum that you had not learned at previous companies?
I have learned a lot about creating purpose-driven work. It’s amazing to work with a group of people who don’t ideate campaigns for the sake of it. But people who understand client needs and come up with work that addresses those hassles. I have also learned that one needs to do brave work and constantly push the envelope.
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 think the challenges that I face are similar to what anyone would face. It’s having to prove that you deserve a seat at the table. That you are worth the time and space. My advice is cliche but true. Believe in yourself, in your abilities, and know that you deserve a seat at the table.
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Your name is yours to own. You wear it with pride and you use it to fulfil your purpose. This is the second year that we’ve purposefully changed our name to honour every woman and her limitless potential. Womentum is the action behind our intention, which is to be here for every woman’s journey to success. #SheOwnsHerSuccess.
What made you fall in love with the world of marketing? What particular moment in time pushed you to pursue this as a career? After all, we all wanted to be Doctor growing up, right?
When I was in matric, our school took us on an excursion to a local newspaper – Daily Dispatch. I had always loved to read and write but I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. When we walked into the newsroom, my heart skipped. I was inspired by the energy in the room, people creating and on a high. I knew then and there that I wanted to be a part of that. My dream was to be a journalist but as the world evolved, the marketing bug bit me and I allowed myself to move in the direction that the universe has set out for me.
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?
My typical workday is fast, exciting, and fast-paced. I work in digital and things are ever-changing. I start my day by checking trends on social networks. I then check and respond to my emails. I have meetings for brainstorm sessions and discuss campaigns. I sometimes need to provide insights for campaigns we are running. I upload and manage content on social media platforms. I assist different stakeholders with their digital needs. I sometimes live tweet events and get to sit in the presence of inspiring people from different industries. And so and so forth.
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?
I am one of the people that say it’s long overdue. The world of work needs to adapt to this change. It is no longer about having bums on seats but about output. And for people working in digital and able to work from anywhere in the world, they need to be given that opportunity as long as they check-in with the team and deliver on the work.
What have been some of Momentum’s biggest successes in marketing over the past 12 to 18 months?
Redefining our brand narrative, coming up with campaigns that speak to that narrative, and seeing the difference that we have made in people’s lives. Doing purpose-driven work and constantly pushing the envelope. Not being afraid to fail and producing work that is not average. In our line of work, average won’t do and fear only holds you back.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Canva – a great image editing tool and you can use it on your phone and on desktop. I love Falcon – an ORM tool that I use daily to publish posts, manage communities, and get analytics. Does Instagram count? Cause that is one of my favourite apps at the moment.
What do you see as some of the major trends in digital in the next 12 to 18 months?
I see companies and brands moving away from brick and mortar set up to a more digitally- led and digitally focused world. I see video continuing to dominate how we consume information and moving towards a more human-centric approach as people are now learning what matters and what doesn’t. Both from a personal and brand perspective.
2020 AND BEYOND
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information? Physical book vs eReader?)
I am currently reading a ‘Return to Love’ by Marianne Williamson and ‘Red Dust’ by Gillian Slovo. I prefer a physical book, I always have and I always will. There is something about your fingers running through the pages of a book. The smell of a new book, the covers, and the pages. That is something you cannot get from an e-book.
A unique message for all young professionals in the marketing industry
You have what you need to succeed, whatever that success might look like for you. Don’t listen to the naysayers, listen to your gut. Listen to that inner voice that tells you to keep pushing regardless of how hard things may seem. You will make it.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I have received was from my late mother (bless her soul). She told me to love people and engage with them. Her exact words were, “ I will not be here forever and you will not have me to lean on for everything. Walk into a place with confidence, smile, make friends, and mingle.” I have carried that advice throughout my life.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I walk into a room and I own it. I have great energy and I am able to engage with people from all spheres of life. During my journalism days, I was the one person in the team who could interview the CEO as well as the front desk lady. People are drawn to me and they open up to me easily. It’s like a superpower of sorts.
How do you deal with negative comments or a brand reputation crisis?
When it comes to my work – I long realised that negative comments will come. When they do I use those as an opportunity to teach people. During crisis times, I have learned that it is important to keep calm, gather your facts, buy time and get your facts straight, and never be forced to give an answer that you haven’t carefully considered.