“I wouldn’t advise people to stay in toxic environments or where they are undervalued and not given opportunities to grow, if you feel like moving on, do it”Neo Moloko
Neo is the Digital Marketing Administrator at Liquid Telecom. While most of her peers simply consumed TV ads, she fell in love with how they were brought to life. Suffice to say, she knew at that point she had found “the one”, where careers are concerned. Welcome to this segment of Women In Marketing
THE JOURNEY TAKEN
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career in marketing? How’d you end up at Liquid Telecom South Africa?
I am Neo Moloko, born and raised in Diepkloof, Soweto. I went to High School at McAuley House School for girls and then moved on to doing a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications at the University of Johannesburg.
Marketing was not my first choice because of my father’s influence, I first applied for accounting, and when I didn’t qualify for that, I wanted to do something in Strategy and I found Strategic Corporate Communication and I fell in love with communications and strategic thinking.
My role at Liquid Telecom came through my LinkedIn profile and to some extent through manifestation. You see, as a varsity student, whilst travelling on the N1, I would always imagine myself having a job for one of the businesses along the N1, LOL. I digress, I had been retrenched from Kaitoma Creatives, then I decided to upload my cv on my LinkedIn profile as the conventional way of applying for work wasn’t working out well for me. The Cloud product manager at Liquid Telecom, Claudia Ferro, noticed my profile and sent me a private mail to offer me a part-time digital manager role and I have been enjoying my time there.
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?
My love for marketing came from enjoying analysing adverts while watching tv, not so much so the production but how they came up with the concept and what message they were trying to convey. Upon doing some research, before heading to university, I understood the work and strategy that goes into it, hence I chose Strategic Communication. In my career, I have always tried to assist businesses better position themselves digitally and create meaningful interactions with their customers in order to better cater to their needs.
You have accumulated an envious amount of experience having worked for top-tier companies such as the University of Johannesburg and Kaitoma Creatives. What did you learn from these roles and how do you apply experiences in your current role at Liquid Telecom South Africa?
At UJ I worked as a communications tutor, I learnt some valuable lessons there. I am naturally a very quiet person, speak when spoken to. Therefore, being a tutor allowed me to get out of that shell, trying to get second years to listen to you is a challenge. As a result, I learnt how to assert myself, enhanced my presentation skills and conquered my fear of public speaking.
Kaitoma Creatives granted me with the platform to learn everything I now know about communications. Our MD, Paul Moeng, was a great mentor and he taught me how to deliver my strategies, create excellent positionings and value propositions for our clients. In addition, I learnt the skill of client relations, which also taught me people skills and how to help and answer to the needs of a client.
I will forever treasure the lessons learnt at Kaitoma Creatives and Bluevine Group, who introduced me to digital marketing. I am currently at Liquid Telecom and the transition from agency to corporate was a hard one, I had to learn to let go of control from a lot of things and that was a hard thing for me. However, I am learning a great deal and I am enjoying my new journey for what it is.
You obtained your Honours in Strategic Communications from the University of Johannesburg (girl you fancy!). According to 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?
Although I have an Honours degree, it is a “nice” to have because it has opened many doors for me and placed me in a position in the hiring selection.
However, during the course of my career, I can establish that short-courses and digital certifications have more value, especially in my line of work. More of the practical learnings, I received knowledge from my Google certifications and LinkedIn Learning, this is why I encourage most of the women around me to do the certifications and learn by doing, practice all the time. In addition, online certification gives you access to templates where you can learn and make mistakes, so by the time the job comes along, you are ready for it. I am busy with other certifications because digital is always changing.
What new skills have you picked up during lockdown? Our online learning platform, #21CSkills is designed to equip #students, #developers and #startups with the digital literacy you need to succeed in the 21st century. Find out more about signing up at https://t.co/gHYedlf360 pic.twitter.com/57bKBsOMRj— Liquid Telecom (@liquidtelecom) May 14, 2020
Forbes published a report about how employers can prevent their employees from job-hopping. What’s your opinion on job-hopping? Does it hurt or aid one’s career?
I haven’t been job hopping, so I can’t speak from personal experience.
However, I have been around colleagues that have done that multiple times and have not struggled. Therefore, I wouldn’t advise people to stay in toxic environments or where they are undervalued and not given opportunities to grow, if you feel like moving on, do it.
Sheryl Sandberg made an interesting remark in her kick-ass biography ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead’ that “searching for a mentor has become the professional equivalent of waiting for Prince Charming”. What’s your take on mentorship and how best should women navigate this?
This has been difficult for me as I haven’t been surrounded by many women in the industry.
However, there are two sides to the coin. I am not one to put myself out there and try to find a mentor because I have a preconceived notion that they are inaccessible. I had a mentor, she guided me through my digital career, however, she wasn’t always available and our relationship included me doing some work and her guiding me through it. I wish I had some women in the industry that I had a personal relationship to guide me in navigating my way through digital because it is a male-dominated industry.
Although this may be the case, I understand the unavailability of some women, as accomplished as they may be, they are still fighting for their recognition in the boardroom and fighting their way out of the patronising male ego.
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 new environment is very different from my previous one.
Before, I would get to the office at 6:30 or 7:00 am and start the day by checking my mails and calendar over a cup of coffee, when the rest of the colleagues arrived at work around 8:30 and we would have breakfast together and catch-up. During the day, I would be swapped with campaign planning, client meetings and presentation, and reports until 4 pm.
When I am not too busy, I would do a short course and learn something new. In my new environment, it is very flexible, I can work from anywhere so there is no need to be at the office constantly.
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 think it’s great that more women are holding this title as we are the buying decision-makers. There hasn’t been enough representation in many spaces for women. Therefore, I appreciate seeing more women on lists such as this.
Closely linked to the previous question, 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 indicate 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?
In marketing, we still have a long way to go in terms of research.
There are many papers conducted and found online. However, some of the papers still include biases and assumptions. There is still a high misrepresentation of our society even from us women. I sometimes see ads on tv with a married couple and a little boy and girl selling toilet paper, that’s all good and well but that is not exactly the same family construct, its biases like that that keep us thinking the same way in our communication and marketing.
Women go through so much and we cannot box them into certain products. Therefore, more conversations need to happen with women and not about them in a separate room.
COVID-19 has brought with it a disruption that has affected several sectors of the economy across the world. Several businesses, small and big alike were forced to downsize whilst others even filed for bankruptcy. On the same token, however, several organisations have used this time to regroup and use the challenges brought on by the pandemic 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?
The organization I work for is in the telecommunications space, our work is virtual and has led digital transformation in many other companies. Therefore, we have been fortunate enough to not have been in a position to restructure.
Systems around remote work and video conferencing are increasingly becoming 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. With that being said, working from home/remote working is an aspect of modern-day work that has been long overdue. Why do you think most organisations have struggled to implement remote work systems? Furthermore, how have you and your organisation structured your work since the COVID-19 pandemic? Any key lessons?
Before the pandemic, there was really no need to create a virtual workplace unless your organisation made it possible for you to have one. Now, however, businesses are forced to look at new ways to conduct their business. Organisations did not really have the need to have remote working spaces.
Marketing objectives will most likely change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. How has your organisation pivoted where marketing is concerned and how important is it to have a digital marketing strategy?
Leveraging on digital platforms has never been more important because it has now become a way for brands to create conversations and engage with the customers in real-time as opposed to creating chat-bots.
Digital platforms allow marketers to reach consumers exactly where they are and at the appropriate time. However, not all digital platforms work the same and consumers interact differently to each. Therefore, the need for a strategy is crucial. As Liquid Telecom, we have campaigns running to assist organisations in getting virtual working ready through our “Liquid Virtual Workplace” campaign.
The campaign has been running digitally, on our website and our social media pages.
What have been some of Liquid Telecom South Africa biggest successes in marketing over the past 12 to 18 months?
I have only been at Liquid Telecom for 5 months and the only campaign I have been part of is the LVW Campaign which was a great success in terms of introducing more companies to remote working.
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? How do you define innovation at Liquid Telecom South Africa?
I would define innovation as creative and forward-thinking that disrupts to provide better solutions. At Liquid Telecom we identify ourselves as technological disruptors and we offer digital transformation through our wide network.
At the time of publishing, The Digital Marketing Institute estimated that the influencer marketing industry will hit the $10bn mark by 2020. Whether B2B or B2C, it’s 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?
The need for influencer marketing has grown in the past couple of years and it is still growing. Real influence, however, is getting people to buy the product you are offering. Influencers have been affected by the pandemic to a certain extent, more particularly in the tourism space. However, there is always an opportunity to create content.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
How do you leverage data to inform your decision-making?
Data is very important when it comes to marketing and communication as it informs us as a business what the customers need from us. We are able to create a more seamless customer journey and tend to their needs.
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 ‘Zulu Wedding’ by Dudu Busani-Dube, I’ve also had time to read Trevor Noah’s ‘Born a Crime’. I prefer physical books, my eyes cannot handle e-books. I enjoy reading books that take me away from my own reality, I love being taken on a journey.
What is on your Netflix watchlist?
13: The Kalief Browder Story
When They See Us
The Big Bang Theory
Becoming the Michele Obama documentary
A unique message for all young professionals in the marketing industry
Never stop learning and don’t be afraid to tell your own story. Storytelling is the best form of marketing.
What haven’t you solved? What challenge is on your plate?
At this point, nothing.
We are always looking out for awesome women in marketing to profile. Who would you like us to interview in future?
Busisiwe Skosana, founder and owner of Azanian Pulse Management
Any bucket list items (professional as well as personal)?
Being on a digital transformation panel without exclusions
To travel more
Who are some of your female heroes?
My mother, Thandi Mangwane
Dr. Sindi van Zyle
They are trailblazers within their field.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You can either try and fail or it works out, either way, you come out with a new learned experience.