“Teamwork is important and the results of the team are a reflection of everyone’s hard work”Selaelo Matlala
Selaelo manages PR and Communication for Time Square which is owned by the Sun International Group. The travel and hospitality sector suffered significantly due to the lockdown, Selaelo shares the challenges brought by the pandemic 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 Sun International?
My name is Lebogang Selaelo Matlala, my preferred name is Selaelo.
Born and raised in the Vaal, South of Johannesburg. Attended High School at Suiderlig Hoer/High School where I matriculated in 2004, went on to study at the University of Johannesburg APK campus. Didn’t initially study Marketing, but later changed my degree to a Marketing degree.
I ended up at Sun International when I had failed my one major (Logistics Management) and I applied for an internship at their call centre. That’s where the relationship started with Sun International.
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?
Any human behaviour is difficult to understand, that is why there will always be studies to try and understand why consumers, male or female behave in a particular manner when purchasing. I think the crux of it is not having enough females employed in the industry to advise on how women behave and provide that viewpoint to help reach the wider female audience.
What have you learned at Sun International that you had not learned at previous companies?
Well considering it’s the only company I have really worked for, I have learned the below:
Individuality and being authentic to who you are is important. Trust in who you are. Always be loyal to oneself. Teamwork is important and the results of the team are a reflection of everyone’s hard work. Build your personal brand, there are always opportunities for growth, you just need to want to grow. I’m a brand ambassador as an employee, how I speak, engage with others is a reflection of me and where I work
What does the word feminist mean to you?
Equality for all genders
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?
They need to first acknowledge that there is inequality in this regard, you can’t want to transform if we don’t even understand why this is necessary and that there are inequalities. Have an open dialogue about this.
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?
It was the creativity that came with it and when I understood that I could impact people by a tagline, messaging, sound etc, to persuade them to buy a product. I fell in love.
It was in my first year of the Bcom Informatics Degree, the second semester in my Business management lecture, where we did Introduction to marketing. After that lecture, I called my mom and told her that I wanted to change my course to a Bcom Marketing degree.
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 day at work could change from being relaxed and high speed in a second. Always meetings to attend about the hotel, future shows and activations for the casino. Strategy and planning are important in my everyday life. I’m a coffee person..
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 were already planning on how we will proceed after COVID-19 before we had gone into lockdown.
The market and industry have been highly impacted by COVID- 19. The reality is that the hospitality industry will only be opened in level 1, and even then, we deal with the entertainment of customers. All we can do is plan on how we can recover from this. This is what we do on a daily basis, considering ways in which we can evolve as a company from this pandemic.
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’m one of those who feel it’s well overdue, I am however used to working unusual hours, it’s a norm for us in the industry. What it has done now is make visible that we don’t all need to be in the office at all times, we can in the new way evolve in working when we are at our optimum.
What are the most unique challenges you face in your industry and at the workplace? How do you tackle these?
We deal with people’s last disposable income, this is challenging and also rewarding. Means we need to provide a service to customers that they need to remember and would give them timeless memories. This is how we deal with it, provide every person with an experience that they can remember, that they tell their families about and spread word of mouth.
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, however I would like to answer.
I don’t think children would have that big of an impact, it’s just now having to strike a balancing act in structuring and scheduling when you help them with their studies, the same way it wouldn’t impact men that much. There can always be more that can be done. But we are getting there as a society.
What have been some of Sun International biggest successes in marketing over the past 12 to 18 months?
Organising partnership with Viacom (MTV & MTV Base) for our New Year’s Eve Block Party (this was a 2-year deal I managed to close).
What makes something innovative? How do you define innovation at Sun International?
Any idea that changes how we have fundamentally done things.
We have an innovation box, we are encouraged to think up new solutions and challenge the norm.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Google Analytics and Instagram.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Don’t think it’s even a hack, but a to-do list always helps.
What are your thoughts on Marketing and Sales alignment? How do you align your Marketing and Sales team at Sun International?
The most underrated decision is aligning these two.
To us, it is the most crucial as this results in revenue for elementals of our business. There is inclusiveness with both departments and always sharing of information to achieve the same goals.
2020 AND BEYOND
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information? Physical book vs eReader?)
I’m reading The Alchemist again.
I love touching and turning pages, something about a hard copy you feel you go somewhere when you read it, until the turn of the last page.
A unique message for all young professionals in the marketing industry
Be loyal to yourself first and believe in yourself. Be authentic.
What haven’t you solved? What challenge is on your plate?
Any bucket list items (professional as well as personal)?
Professional – setup my own company.
Personal – travel the world.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Always be loyal to yourself and remember your goals
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I see ideas and concepts that normally people don’t see.