“I think that people still believe that women do not have the ability to take the lead”Melanie Williams
Melanie Williams is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Stratogo. Believe it or not, she initially wanted to be a lawyer. She got bit by the marketing bug and is now a part of the exclusive club for cool professionals. Yes, Marketing is cool! Let’s read her story in 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 Stratogo?
I have such an interesting journey in marketing. Started my career in marketing right at the bottom of the pack in a law firm (where marketing of law firms was just starting up). I worked my way up in the legal industry for a number of years, where I was involved in mergers & acquisitions, brand management, tender management, communications etc.
I later moved provinces and worked at LexisNexis for almost 5 years as a Marketing Campaign Specialist. I then decided that campaign management was not for me and applied for the Marketing & Communications Manager position at Stratogo where I was successful after many interviews and tests.
What have you learned at Stratogo that you had not learned at previous companies?
Stratogo is a recruitment business and I came from a legal background of Marketing. I learnt so many different things on how to do business. I became more involved in sales and business development, website management, a lot more people management and most importantly Customer Experience Management.
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 people still believe that women do not have the ability to take the lead. I have been in positions where I have not been taken seriously and it is a continuous battle to have to prove myself.
What does the word feminist mean to you?
To support the equal right of women
Who are some of your female heroes?
Michelle Obama, Thuli Madonsela, Fatima Meer, Helen Joseph and so many more.
What steps can companies take to make their businesses more equal in terms of pay and employees with regards to gender?
To see the employees worth and the job they are doing, be it female or male.
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?
Inside – Some male peers look down upon you when you have an opinion.
Outside – Top male clients don’t take you seriously when talking to them on serious topics or matters.
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?
So wrong, I wanted to be a Lawyer, studied to be one, but never went into that career. I am an extrovert and always had the flair of being creative, putting my thoughts on paper and I absolutely love working with people. I fell in love with marketing way back, when the legal industry could not do open marketing so it was an absolute challenge 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?
A typical day starts with all social media, website and online queries. I have a plan that I have every week and try to stick to it almost 100%. My calendar has a few set meetings every week and if need be it fills up during the week. Definitely 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 at Stratogo have used this time to ensure that the business continued to run as best as possible. With the great leadership that we have this pandemic has been a little bit better to deal with. We have ensured that the brand has stayed alive and there are new and exciting things to come.
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?
The new normal has been challenging in so many ways but the ways that we have adapted and the support received has been spectacular. Everyone working together to form a better Stratogo.
As a mother, how has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the way you work?
Yes, it has because you have to be a teacher at the same time as well as do your job.
Furthermore, should organisations be cognisant of mothers?
Stratogo is one of the most cognisant organisations when it comes to mothers, they have always allowed the flexibility to parents within the business.
What have been some of Stratogo biggest successes in marketing over the past 12 to 18 months?
The biggest success is that people are starting to recognise Stratogo’s new brand. It has taken time but for me, it has been my biggest success. The business has come from being pure Labour Brokers to HR Solutions Partners
What makes something innovative? How do you define innovation at Stratogo?
With the services that we offer and how it is offered. We look at the needs of the customers and adapt our offerings to suit them.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Teams, Mailchimp, Canva
What’s your mobile strategy?
I am in the process of developing a Stratogo app.
2020 AND BEYOND
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information? Physical book vs eReader?)
At the moment I am reading online study notes.
A unique message for all young professionals in the marketing industry
Always ensure that you personally are properly marketed before the rest
What haven’t you solved?
The way marketing should be handled.
What challenge is on your plate?
Getting people to trust marketing professionals.
Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read
Any bucket list items (professional as well as personal)?
To complete my MBA and personally to go skiing.
Which superhero/heroine or literature icon exemplifies your personality at work and at home?
I have to say SuperWoman