Thamyn Naidoo, LinkedIn, Women In Marketing
Women In Marketing

Women In Marketing Interview | Thamyn Naidoo from Regent Business School

“Media plays a pivotal role in shaping the thoughts and ideals among communities. This is even more apparent now from what we have seen through the global pandemic and social movements”

Thamyn Naidoo

Thamyn is Regent Business School’s Digital Marketing Manager. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thamyn and her team organised Regent’s virtual graduation ceremony. She is definitely here to slay! Welcome to 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 Regent Business School?

Thamyn Naidoo, Women In Marketing
Thamyn Naidoo

As an early-day millennial, I am amongst the last generation of kids who grew up without the world wide web and social media. There were major environmental changes around the time I was faced with that daunting question after school…”What do you want to do with your life?”. Coming from an old-school Indian family, the expectations were either an accountant, lawyer, doctor or chemical engineer.

I’m a non-traditionalist and learn best from experience rather than books. Not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, I took it upon myself to try a few different avenues. 

Long story short, after a few courses and watching the rapid growth of online media, my keen interest in this platform guided me through various roles, through a variety of industries, to Washington, DC in the USA for a year, and now to my current role as a Digital Marketer at Regent Business School. I am in an exciting place at an exciting time and I enjoy how technology and digital media keeps me on my toes. You can never know it all.

You have accumulated an envious amount of experience working for top-tier companies such as Mr.Price and Flight Centre South Africa. What did you learn from these roles and how do you apply experiences in your current role at Regent Business School?

My insatiable thirst for knowledge and new experiences led me through various industries holding digital marketing roles throughout. Each role provided various lessons (as with all relationships). Some of these are related to ways-of-working, others bring self-realisations and through all of it, I grew.

If you’re not growing and learning, you’re not moving forward. While I enjoyed my experiences with every company I have worked at, both within an agency and client-side, I’ve learned that to be truly happy in my professional career, it needed to align to my personality and my ideals. 

The private education industry is rapidly growing in South Africa. It is up to privately owned businesses to drive the changes needed to uplift our country and support entrepreneurs. Regent Business School is passionate about this and ensuring students have work-ready skills upon completion of their qualification is the cornerstone of the company.

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?

This question made me immediately think of the tv series ‘Mad Men’. It’s unfortunate that this stereotypical marketing, that reinforces stereotypical thinking in society, still prevails. Media plays a pivotal role in shaping the thoughts and ideals among communities.

This is even more apparent now from what we have seen through the global pandemic and social movements. It’s the responsibility of media, brands and advertisers to change these perceptions. We have seen it with some brands. But just some is not enough.

What does the word feminist mean to you?

Someone who is passionate about equal rights for women in both personal and professional realms. The word has coveted negative sentiments as a result of radicals. But every movement that questions or upsets the status quo will always have extremists for or in opposition. It’s important to remember that feminism is a plea for equal rights and not through the oppression of others. It’s rising up without pushing others down.

Who are some of your female heroes?

I have a number of female heroes that speak to various aspects of my personality. First and foremost is my mother who is my Wonder Woman and shows me every day how faith helps you overcome and inspires me daily to do and be better.

Lynette Ntuli is someone I admire as a business leader. I had the opportunity to hear her speak at an MTN summit some years ago and you can’t walk away not feeling motivated. Her unwavering passion as a highly successful black woman in business encourages you to step out of your own comfort zone.

What steps can companies take to make their businesses more equal in terms of pay and employees with regards to gender?

Women within the company should be encouraged to upskill through learning programmes for roles that were previously male-dominated. Companies can partner with tertiary institutions and offer graduate programmes for women.

What have you learned at Regent Business School that you had not learned at previous companies?

I have definitely enhanced my 4IR skills and more in tune with industry changes as well as tech advances. I have learned how important a good, solid foundation in education is, rather than regurgitated book knowledge that may get you a job but won’t build a career.

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?

I do enjoy the taste of coffee but, unfortunately, cannot handle caffeine – not even decaf. So I have become a tea-lover. As a digital marketer, my job entails all things digital, from website to social media to emailers and 3rd party digital advertising.

My days are pretty full-up. After a daily morning marketing team scrum, I follow a digital content calendar that I compile at the beginning of each campaign (as best as I can). Being organised is key to staying on top of your game with multiple things on the go.

Thamyn Naidoo, Remote working. Women In marketing
Thamyn working… Remotely

Also, social media managers will understand that content calendars need to also be agile and allow for changes, especially when there are developments to capitalise on.  Always-on really does mean…always on.

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?

Continuity of work and providing student support were the key focus areas for REGENT when the national lockdown was announced. 

Swift action from our IT department had the majority of the company set up for remote working within a week. The best part about digital marketing and being completely online is that you’re already set up to work remotely. This just wasn’t the norm for the business as a whole prior to COVID-19, but the transition was smooth and everyone has been doing their part to ensure it’s business as usual. In addition, it forced the business to fast-track many of the projects that were on the go to digitize many functions of the business. There is a silver lining to that very dark cloud over the world.

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?

Our daily team scrum is now conducted online. Connectivity has been a challenge for many, as is the case for most South Africans. But a little added patience and understanding from all team members has helped overcome these hurdles thus far. I have to admit that the lines have become very blurred between office hours and personal time and I do struggle on some days to clock-out. It’s something I’m still grappling with. 

The challenge was to still remain connected to our students since halting all face-to-face sessions. The added digital support through webinars and tutorials being provided has been welcomed by many students.

Storytelling seems to be the next rising buzzword. What’s the Regent Business School story? How are you telling it in an interesting way?

At Regent, we’ve found the best way to tell our story is through our students and alumni who share their first-hand experiences. We continuously engage with our Alumni members to follow their progress and share their accomplishments with our online community.

The private higher education market is highly competitive, however, Regent Business School differs in the way 4IR forms an integral part of all our programmes, providing students with work-ready and entrepreneurial skills. I think this quote sums up the RBS ethos: “Knowledge without practice is useless. Practice without knowledge is dangerous.” – Confucius 

COMPANY HIGHLIGHTS

What have been some of Regent Business School biggest successes in marketing over the past 12 to 18 months?

The marketing team has grown over the last two years, ensuring specialists hold key roles within the company. This allowed for many previously outsourced functions to be brought in-house. There’s since been a tighter team driving 360-degree communication.

Digital marketing has become a focus of the business and the measurability and analytics it offers allow for more successful campaigns. It’s also been a great advantage since COVID-19 put a halt on print media at the start of the lockdown. There have been many successes in terms of virtual events, one of these being a virtual graduation ceremony which had over 2000 viewers during the live broadcast.

What makes something innovative? How do you define innovation at Regent Business School?

An innovation is something new that solves a problem or allows for progress – it can be tangible or even an idea. At Regent Business School, equipping students with skills that enhance creative-thinking and drive innovation is a focus of our iLeadLAB. Whether it’s a new way of working to improve productivity or an invention that solves a problem within a community, students gain knowledge on how to capitalise on these ideas.

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

Professionally: Google first of all. I Google things more than 30 times in a day. And the G-suite of apps allows me to seamlessly work remotely between my Macbook and PC laptop. Google Analytics is also amongst my daily check-ins. Hootsuite for a dashboard view of our social pages and a necessity when dealing with multiple platforms. We’re exploring some social listening tools as well. 

Personally: Instagram is my favourite social platform because I’m a visual person. I generally try out a lot of apps that can allow me to do quick image/video edits on my phone, especially since I need to share real-time content at events.

How is Regent Business School changing the approach to marketing, growing brand affinity, user adoption, and engaging consumers living a digital lifestyle?

By staying relevant and authentic, we are growing brand loyalty as we see many of our students begin their tertiary education journey as an undergraduate and finishing with a postgraduate qualification.

Although there are many native online-learning platforms, we know that there’s one thing 4IR will not replace, the human-touch and many people still need that level of engagement to feel comfortable with making their study choice. 

This human element amalgamates with the digitally-supported programmes, to provide a good experience through the student journey. Also, our hands-on approach driven by our iLeadLAB ensures our students are in tune with the digital age.

What are your thoughts on Marketing and Sales alignment? How do you align your Marketing and Sales team at Regent Business School?

The best part about digital marketing is that it allows for quick changes. I am in constant contact with our Sales Team Leader to stay in the loop on campaign performance and lead conversion. I can then adjust my digital campaigns in response to feedback where necessary. And vice versa. It is important for any successful campaign that these two business functions maintain good communication and remain aligned to meet the business objectives.

2020 AND BEYOND

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

I am on a personal spiritual journey and mostly read religious books. Currently on my nightstand is ‘Weird Christians I have met’ by Philip Baker. It’s been an interesting and easy book to relate to my life experiences.

I do favour physical books over ebooks. I already spend enough time in my day looking at a screen and prefer a tangible book when I read – which is usually late at night. But truth be told, I don’t read as often as I would like to, due to eye-fatigue and overload at the end of my day. So audiobooks and podcasts are a new method of consuming content for me.

A unique message for all young professionals in the marketing industry

Don’t be afraid to try because there’s no such thing as failing, only learning. Not trying at all is where you’ll fail – (I’m sure there’s some quote that goes something like that). Whenever I’m afraid, I always question what my fear is based on and if the answer I reach is ‘failure’, I go ahead and do it anyway.

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

Digital marketing is a daily challenge. Algorithms are always updating, social platforms are always changing policies and functionality, and there’s a general overload of content. I try to always stay as up to date as I can, but no one can be ahead of it all, all the time. Learning new ways to cut through the noise is an ongoing challenge.

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

Lynette Ntuli

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

A few years back I was bitten by the travel bug and promised myself to travel abroad every year so I can see as much of the world as I can while I can. COVID-19 has required me to revise that plan for this year but I’m looking forward to doing some local travelling as soon as we’re permitted.

I have my own little novelty cake and edible cake-toppers home-based business (Baked RSA) that’s been running for just over a year now and it’s been my artistic outlet. I have not been able to grow the business as time and space have been a challenge. I’m hoping to find new avenues to grow this in the near future.

What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?

The amount of artificial intelligence we’ve been exposed to so far is only skimming the surface. There’s going to be a much greater impact on industries and in addition our personal lives, both positive and negative. 

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

“Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today.” It’s difficult to always put this into practice but I do try.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

I adapt better than most I think. Professionally, I’m also quite calm and collected which many colleagues have admired throughout the various companies I have worked in. I just don’t believe that getting worked-up about stuff solves anything and there’s usually a solution to every problem.

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Head of Relationship Management at naughtybanana. I am a father to an awesome boy who thinks highly of me; perhaps I'm doing something right after all. When I'm not establishing new business relationships, you might catch me reading a book or of course, being an awesome dad.