Rirhandzu Manganye Women In Marketing
Women In Marketing,  South Africa

Women In Marketing Interview | Rirhandzu Manganye from Famous Brands

“From observing and engaging the people close to me, COVID-19 has put a strain on moms. It’s been difficult for them to be a full-time employee as they are also required to be a full-time mom at the same time”

Rirhandzu Manganye

With vast experience working in the FMCG sector, Rirhandzu is Debonairs Pizza’s Brand Manager. Even though she wanted to be an actress, she explains how the advertising bug bit her and of course in return, how she probably bites into a Triple-Decker pizza once in a while. Oh, and if you bump into her, ask her what has she baked recently. Let’s read her story, welcome to Women In Marketing


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career in marketing? How’d you end up at Famous Brands?

Well, my name is Rirhandzu Manganye, I was born and raised in Soweto & I am the 2nd born of 3 children. I completed my studies at the end of 2013 at the University of Pretoria & at the beginning of 2014, took a leap of faith by moving cities to start my marketing career. 

I have been working in marketing for the past 6 years (going on 7) – working in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) & Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) spaces. In doing so, I have worked within big multinational companies (Unilever South Africa & Pepsico South Africa) and currently working at Famous Brands Limited.  

Rirhandzu, Women In Marketing
Rirhandzu looking fancy!
Source: Supplied

Throughout my journey, I have been fortunate enough to have worked on some amazing brands such as Cornetto, Rich ‘n Creamy, Gino Ginelli, Knorr soups, Simba Chips, Fritos and currently working on Debonairs Pizza. 

Having started my career in the FMCG space, I wanted to try something different as that’s the great thing about the marketing world- there are different industries in which one can explore. Each industry comes with its own set of challenges and requires you to think differently, hence I chose Famous Brands as it gives me the opportunity to work in the QSR space which is different to what I am used to and constantly keeps me on my toes. 

You have accumulated an envious amount of experience having worked for top-tier companies such as Unilever as well as Pepsico. What did you learn from these roles and how do you apply experiences in your current role at Famous Brands?

The experience gained at Unilever & Pepsico, I would say shaped me to become a well-rounded business person, who thinks of the business in a holistic way and not purely operating from a “marketing point of view”. I say this because within the roles I was in, I was required to not only be the marketing representative within the project teams but the project lead in most, if not all instances when it came to pursuing opportunities to launch products & campaigns in the market. 

To successfully fulfil these roles, one is required to understand how the business operates as well as the purpose of each function and the impact thereof to the total business in order to be able to make informed decisions. Decisions on whether opportunities are sizeable enough to pursue & are the opportunities going to provide a competitive advantage that makes business sense.

The same is required in my role at Famous Brands, the different dynamic in this instance would be the heightened pace and agility required to perform in my role.

In a nutshell, I learned that marketing is beyond pretty pictures, TV ads, activations and presentations etc- its business with a dash of bells and whistles. The products, services and campaigns are well thought out and as a result, are packaged in a way that is attractive to the consumer/customer. It’s a balancing act between making the consumer/customer happy as well as the business.

You obtained a BCOM in Marketing Management from the University of Pretoria (girl you fancy!). In an article written by Glassdoor, it has become seemingly easier to apply for work at companies such as Google, Apple and Starbucks as they do not require applicants to have a degree. How can young women utilise the internet to upskill themselves particularly if they cannot afford to obtain a formal education?

I would say online courses, e-books & internships would be a great combination, reason being:

Online courses are available for free or for a small fee from reputable institutions and offer great learnings, of which I have come to realise during this lockdown as I have enrolled in some. The courses are relevant in the sense that the material is constantly being updated, discussion groups from peers who are also taking the course offer a great place for healthy debate and the user is not restricted to one subject matter when it comes to selecting which courses to enrol in.

There are some good E-books available that are related to different subject matters that people can download and digest.

Internships are the practical side of things. I encourage young women to seek internships or job shadowing opportunities on the internet in order to get a glimpse of the type of work that is being done in the industries/professions that they may be interested in. Although formal education is preferred, some skills may be taught on the job and what better way to start, than with a good foundation.

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’s growing up, right?

Haha, so the funny thing is I actually wanted to be an actress, however, it’s not something I wanted to study towards, I wanted to be discovered. So when leaving high school, I was under the impression that one day whilst minding my own business and doing my job creating TV ads the lead of the ad will not show up to the shoot and I will need to step in, in order to make sure the job is done to sell the products & from there- boom, I am discovered! 

So you can imagine the confusion when I went to varsity and I am expected to take some business modules such as accounting, economics and statistics. Out of curiosity, I went with it, to see how this goes because I thoroughly enjoyed my marketing modules.  As time went on, it started making sense as the assignments from the marketing modules required the thinking & understanding of the business modules that I had to take.

Now, I would say I am a fair academic student so I didn’t mind the learning – I just needed it to make sense. So when it all started to come together (probably in the 2nd semester of 1st year), I just kept falling in love more and more as the discussions in class, the examples of the type of work done by the people in the industry, guest lecturers, explanations of the thinking behind all the “Why” things were done the way they were in the marketing world made me so excited, hungry to participate and make an impact in that space.

When I started my first job and subsequently moved to other jobs, I have not been disappointed and each time I learn something new – it keeps me going. I would say this career choice has been a pleasant surprise, I did not think that I would enjoy this for so long and still feel like there is more to be learned. The fortunate thing I guess is that as the world and consumer habits change, so does the way we do certain things on the job, hence there has not been a dull moment.


What does your typical day of work look like? How does your calendar look and are you a coffee or tea kind of person?

Wow, so as cliché as this may sound- no day is actually the same. It depends on what I am working on at the time- but I would say, meetings, a bit of time to do the work (briefs, forecasting, project management, food tasting, shoots, recordings, presentations, attending consumer groups and, and, and). My calendar is always full, constantly on the go as I have quite a few stakeholders that I interact with on a daily basis and I am juggling a few projects at once.

Coffee or Tea: I would say both. Coffee in the morning & tea in the afternoon. 

Forbes has an annual ‘The World’s Most Influential CMOs’ report. For the year 2019, one of the key highlights from the report was that 31 of the 50 CMOs were women whilst there were 19 men. In your opinion, is this a positive representation of gender equality?

I would say to a great extent yes because, in the world of marketing that I have been exposed to, there is ample opportunity for men & women, it just so happens that marketing is pursued predominantly by women hence the results reflect as such.

20190616 ForbesCMOs DataViz ReturningWeb 1
20190616 ForbesCMOs DataViz GenderWeb 1

To me, this sends the message that the person that is best suited for the job is who will be appointed vs it being about the gender of the person as what Forbes has defined as influential is skewed towards the impact that the individual makes through their words and actions – which boils down to who the person is and not their gender.

Closely linked to the previous question, 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 further show that advertisers still do not understand women. Why do you think this is the case and what should change if research says that 50 of the most influential CMOs are in fact women?

I would say this is probably the case because, advertisers & businesses may be holding onto the picture of a stereotypical woman and thus portray her as such with the notion that the consumers will better understand the character portrayed if they are presented in a stereotypical manner. 

In order for this to change, I would say that businesses need to be comfortable with not playing it 100% safe all the time and take the risk of portraying women in a different light but it still needs to be a true representation of the evolved women.

Systems around remote work and video conferencing are increasingly becoming a staple to most organisations. To illustrate this, according to the infographic created by Visual Capitalist, Zoom is now worth more than the 7 biggest airlines in the world at a whopping market capitalization of just over $40bn. Working from home/remote working is an aspect of modern-day work that has been long overdue. Why do you think most organisations who are seemingly able to convert to this way of work have struggled to convert? Furthermore, how have you and your organisation structured your work since the COVID-19 pandemic? Any key lessons?

I believe that remote working has been embraced a while back by some organisations and not by others. From the observations, readings and conversations with people, it seems that multinational companies are the ones who have been accepting of this concept from a while back as it has been tested in other countries within their organisations, thus the benefits have been realized and the concept has therefore been rolled out accordingly.

Visual Capitalist Graph, Women In Marketing
Image source: Visual Capitalist
Data source: Barchart

Other organisations, however, who have had trouble converting- (in most instances are local organisations), I believe maybe this way due to habit and being used to how things have always been. Almost an “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” view. Within these organisations, however, there may be people who believe in remote working but there aren’t enough people leading by example, so it has not been normalized and may not be confidently sought after by others within the organization.

For me, under the strict lockdown, the days have not changed as such in terms of the expectations on the delivery of work as the location has changed and not necessarily the requirements from each individual. We scheduled more catch ups in order to ensure we were all on the same page when it came to the work we were doing.

In addition to this, of which I believe was great- one of the catch-ups in the week was not about work but rather to touch base on how everyone is feeling, what people have observed with this new world etc. This formed a good sense of comradery and a reminder that we are not ignoring what is happening but we are working on coping with it and navigating the new normal together. 

As a mother, how has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the way you work? Furthermore, should organisations be cognisant of mothers? Is enough being done to cater to new parents, specifically mothers? 

I am not a mother but I felt a need to answer this question. From observing and engaging the people close to me, COVID-19 has put a strain on moms. It’s been difficult for them to be a full-time employee as they are also required to be a full-time mom at the same time. So balancing their time has been a challenge because they are faced with distractions in their households and aren’t able to focus solely on work causing them to have to work late nights in order to catch up on the day’s work when the children are asleep. 

Yes organisations need to be cognizant of moms because they are now performing two roles at once, which was not the case before and therefore flexi hours need to be considered. 

By the looks of things, it does not seem like moms have been singled out to cater to their environments and rather a blanket approach to remote working has been applied. We are probably operating under the impression that we have the same or similar working conditions (like we did at the office) or that since we are at home, people should have more time to do the work which may not be the case.


BCG published its innovation report for 2019 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? 

I would say it is a different & creative way to meet existing, new or unarticulated needs.  

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At the time of publishing, an article from The Digital Marketing Institute estimated that the influencer marketing industry will hit the $10bn mark by 2020. Whether it is B2B or B2C, it is evident that brands and organisations have had their own success with this model of marketing. How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect this industry going forward and do you believe there is still a place for influencer marketing?

With COVID-19, I think it may help highlight the importance of this form of marketing as with limited resources and not trying too hard, the influencers are somewhat compelled to be more authentic and creative in their homes which will make their content more believable.

People are also spending a lot more time on their screens during this pandemic so I believe there is still space for influencer marketing as the power of word of mouth is huge. So to have the consumer’s favourite influencers promote a product increases the credibility of the product in the consumer’s mind. 

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Debonairs Pizza App, WhatsApp, Banking apps, Spotify, Youtube, Microsoft Outlook & recently Microsoft teams

How do you leverage data to inform your decision-making?

Having data means I have information that will guide me on deciding how to better segment who my audience is, what they are interested in, when to communicate with them as well as how best to do so. 

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

I would say the Eisenhower box on how to be more productive. It helps decide not only what is urgent & important but goes a step further on giving guidance on what needs to be done, planned, delegated & deleted to improve productivity.  


What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information? Physical book vs eReader?)

I actually read multiple books at a time. I am currently reading ‘Daring Greatly’ by Brene Brown, ‘Lies In Her Boots‘ by Yamkela Tywakadi & ‘Becoming‘ by Michelle Obama. 

I prefer to read hard copies as the experience is just different vs an e-Reader. An eReading experience feels like I am on my phone, thus I tend to want to multitask between apps if I am reading soft copies of books.

What is on your Netflix watchlist/How do you relax?

To relax I listen to podcasts, my 3 favourites:

  • Jesus & Jollof (by Yvonne Orji & Luvvie Ajayi)
  • Elevation sermons (by Steven Furtick)
  • Super Soul Conversations (by Oprah)

Other than that I bake or watch TV.

A unique message for all young professionals in the marketing industry

Bring your true self to work, get to know your consumer, be engaged & understand the business you work in. Be more than the bells & whistles, be a person of substance.

What haven’t you solved? What challenge is on your plate?

How to picture, define & operate in the new normal world? What habits will I need to pick up or drop beyond the obvious ones? How do I prioritise what stays and goes to suit the new normal?

Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read

Morgina Makama

Any bucket list items (professional as well as personal)?

  • I would like to have an international stint 
  • In my next life, I would like to work in either Beauty, Banking or Broadcasting 
  • I would really like to go to Paris

Who are some of your female heroes?

  • Winnie Madikizela- Mandela 
  • Dr Sindi Van Zyl
  • Meghan Markle 
  • Michelle Obama
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Beyonce Knowles Carter

What does the word feminist mean to you?

One who supports that all genders should have equal rights & opportunities 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Show up fully & be your best at all times

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As a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Managing Partner 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.