Roanna Moodley, LinkedIn, Women In Marketing
South Africa,  Women In Marketing

Women In Marketing Interview | Roanna Moodley from Pioneer Group

“The support for single moms is not provided in most companies and children are often left to live without their moms due to moms not having the right support to keep them”

Roanna Moodley

With dreams to be a Doctor, Roanna got bit by the marketing bug after seeing a Coca-Cola ad. From thereon, she threw away her invincible stethoscope and today has her pulse on Pioneer Group’s marketing function as its Head of Marketing. Let’s dive into this segment of Women In Marketing


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

It started when I was a radio presenter and producer at the SABC and quickly learnt how important marketing was to promote my shows and gigs. From then my love for marketing grew. I completed my Marketing Management with IMM GSM and then went on to do my Honours in Business Administration. 

My career in marketing has been immensely exciting. I have worked as a Social Media Manager, Accounts Manager, Marketing Manager and now Head of Marketing. I have been blessed to market some of the most powerful brands and companies both globally and nationally. I was headhunted for my role at The Pioneer Group and was tasked with re-branding and marketing the company and its sub-companies.

You have accumulated an envious amount of experience having worked for top-tier companies such as Discovery, TBWA as well as Jonsson Workwear. What did you learn from these roles and how do you apply experiences in your current role at Pioneer Group?

Roanna, Women in Marketing 1
Roanna Moodley
Source: Supplied

I think it is very important to create value. It is such an important long term investment that truly pays great dividends. Having worked for these large corporates, I have seen that there is a common thread which flows. They all serve their customers by providing value, creating needs, being innovative and always being people-centric. 

What have you learned at Pioneer Group that you had not learned at previous companies?

I gained detailed insight and research analysis on our primary target market, which is the South African black market. I understand their communication structure, culture and behaviours so much better now, which has enabled me to market better. Furthermore, and most importantly, I learnt how to manage my debt better, which is the core business at The Pioneer Group

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?

I actually always wanted to be a doctor too – and even went on to study it for a year and a half after deciding to switch!

I am a believer in making and helping people and things look and feel beautiful. So it made sense for me to go into marketing. I also have an ever-learning mind, which I think is so important to survive in marketing, as it is constantly changing and growing. The moment I knew I wanted to be a marketer was when I was watching TV and an ad played, I would often watch ads and say “I could do that”, so when I saw a Coca Cola smile advert, I truly believed I could make people fall in love with my work just how Coca Cola did for me!


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 day starts with God, water, motivational videos and music. 

Then I dive into my day doing all things marketing. I love mentoring, so I am heavily involved in training and developing my teams. I also train people on leadership and business skills. I absolutely love vlogging – so I vlog for my YouTube channel dFrontRo with Roanna Moodley weekly where I share beauty and wisdom tips. And on the weekends, I dance (Bharatanatyam) and play with my family!

I have coffee in the morning and tea in the evening. Everyday I try to learn something new, so life can be quite interesting for me on most days.

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

Oh yes for sure. Any change like this is a good thing. For a long time, women were not afforded the opportunities that we have now. However, I think we still have a long way to go to really cement us, females, as being represented equally. Women are still underpaid, compared to men globally, which is a battle we must still win. These stats are very encouraging, which shows our time is here, and we are ready!

20190616 ForbesCMOs DataViz ReturningWeb 1
20190616 ForbesCMOs DataViz GenderWeb 1

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?

With any kind of research, the first step is to truly understand what is required and then how we will obtain the desired results. Most of the big decision-makers are still males, who do not understand the market. This shortfall is the reason advertisers don’t understand women because most advertising agencies are led by male CEOs.

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?

Change is not easy. The biggest lesson Covid-19 has taught us, is to be adaptive in nature, innovative and proactive. A successful company is one that is not averse to change, and comfortable with being uncomfortable.

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

Human nature does not like change, and hence companies struggle to transition as managing and motivating teams towards a new norm is challenging. Costing is a huge factor too. Most South African small businesses don’t have the capital to move their teams remotely because they simply don’t have the money. 

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? 

Roanna Moodley, Women In Marketing 3
Roanna Moodley
Source: Supplied

I think we still have a long way to go to make our dominant male senior leaders understand what it takes to be a working mom. Working from home, with a child is extremely challenging, but we find an in-between calm the longer you do it. I think corporate leaders still have a long way to go in truly finding innovative ways to accommodate working moms.

As a mom, I am still expected to deliver, and work at an optimum level and not bring my personal matters to the boardroom. While this is good most times, it doesn’t work in times of emergency or if you are a single mom. The support for single moms is not provided in most companies and children are often left to live without their moms (especially in the black community) due to moms not having the right support to keep them. I think we have a lot of work to do, to find an innovative way to support moms who also want to be power career women.


What have been some of Pioneer Group biggest successes in marketing over the past 12 to 18 months?

I think the re-branding and forming of the group with its sub-companies

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 Pioneer Group?

Innovation is something that is unique, never done before or different. It is something that makes one go “wow”. AI is the future and we have jumped on board by introducing bots on our website. We want to strive to reach people via innovative mediums

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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?

We have all been hit negatively by COVID-19 (except Amazon who made billions!), but we have to be ever-changing and analyze the response to new strategies as we go along. I think influencer marketing still has a strong pull online.

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


Social Media

Editing and Office Tools

Book Apps

Basically my MacBook!

What do you see as some of the major trends in digital in the next 12 to 18 months?

Short videos for sure, and real authentic content creation (whether it is storytelling, original ideas etc)

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

Using my notebook every day to plan my week and asking Google to remind me daily on what I NEED TO GET DONE!


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

‘JUMP’ by Steve Harvey

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

‘Pretty Little Liars’ (I love Shay Mitchell)

A unique message for all young professionals in the marketing industry

Do the Google courses (it’s free), be involved in your craft and master it by walking the walk. Knowledge is power, so always read, watch, learn and upskill. Be Sociable, be fun and NETWORK! Have an opinion on everything! But most of all love what you do and have a blast while doing it!

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

1000 subscribers on my youtube channel – come on – go subscribe to dFrontRo with Roanna Moodley

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

I would love to head up the marketing for a major beauty brand!

Who are some of your female heroes?

Michele Obama, Oprah, My Mom

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

AI for sure. We are making everything smart, houses, cars, phones!

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

Never give up, no matter your circumstance

As Managing Director 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.