Achievement in the media industry doesn’t come without a lot of hard work and a huge dollop of talent. This is not an easy business but those who succeed are generally full of passion and chutzpah. So, to have made it before your 40th birthday is no mean feat. Despite nay-saying oldies who have called this feature “ageist”, the industry has shown its approval. The number of motivations The Media received was five times what we had last year.
It is an interesting and challenging task to hold award-winning journalists and station managers up against media owners, strategists and planners so as to choose the best. What is power and and influence? Is it the amount of money you can generate, the influence you have over the public, your ability to get the most out of your team or simply having a nose for a great story and the ability to uncover information that others can’t? We believe it is all of the above.
The criteria for this listing were fairly simple: the person proposed has to be making a real difference in the industry and, if they were listed last year, they needed to have further accomplishments in the last 12 months to remain on the list. Nobody was automatically kept on the list. Also, The Media team did its homework and did not just rely on the proposals we received.
We believe that the following 40 people are the most powerful and influential people under the age of 40 in the media industry. There are few countries in the world where you would find so many young people with such influence over this industry. Hopefully, these youthful leaders are building the foundation for a solid and even more influential media that will withstand any threats.
Congratulations to all of you (and those who didn’t quite make these pages but are surely moving and shaking in the industry). The Media and TheMediaOnline salute you!
News and current affairs anchor for eNews; Age: 33; Industry: Broadcasting
Bikitsha’s three-hour-long, hard-hitting news and current affairs show, News Night, continues to be extremely influential. Bikitsha holds decision makers to account through her hard-hitting interviews. She has won several prestigious awards including the Mondi Shanduka Newspaper Award for creative journalism and a Sanlam Award for Excellence in Financial Journalism.
This journalist is one of the most well-known and trusted voices in the political economy of South Africa, having covered most of its major developments over the past 15 years.
Unique: She loves singing and has a penchant for karaoke.
Group MD of The MediaShop; Age: 34; Industry: Media agency
Botha runs The MediaShop nationally. Not only did his team achieve solid growth in revenue and profit in a difficult market in 2011, but The MediaShop was also voted the the MOST Awards’ full service media agency of the year and overall media agency of the year, OHMSA agency of the year and AdFocus media agency of the year. Botha was a judge at one of the most prestigious international advertising and communication awards, The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2011, and was voted media innovator of the year in the MOST Awards (Media Agencies) 2010.
Unique: Botha is a die-hard Cheetahs fan, and is addicted to chocolate and biltong.
Sales director for DStv Media Sales, Age: 38; Industry: Advertising sales
Described as sassy and clever by some and a phenomenal networker by others, Cassim-Surtee heads up one of the most dynamic sales teams in Africa. In 1998, she joined DStv Media Sales (previously Oracle Airtime Sales) the MOST Awards’ overall media owner of 2011 and has worked in a variety of its business units including SuperSport, KTV, Sky, BBC World and CNN. Her achievements include Oracle’s market strategy and SuperSport’s successful commercial sales pricing model. She was nominated for the SA Women of the Year and SA Business Woman of the Year for her role in media in the country.
Unique: Cassim-Surtee was the first woman in SA to apply for a boxing referees’ licence and is a qualified soccer commentator and linesman.
5FM morning show host and director and founder of One on One Productions (Pty) Ltd; Age: 34; Industry: Broadcasting
After five years on 5FM, Cliff has taken listenership ratings to record highs. His wit, wisdom and influence over listeners has garnered him a cult radio and Twitter following. Off air, he developed the first Personality App for iPhone and iPad, pioneered integrative social media/radio campaigns, and wrote a book called ‘Gareth Cliff on Everything’.
From his introduction to media on Radio Tuks in 1998, to being the breakfast show host on Talk Radio 702 and then 5FM, to his role as judge on M-Net’s Idols, he has become one of South Africa’s most loved and loathed broadcasting personalities.
Unique: Cliff suffers from ADHD and almost became a lawyer.
GM of 24.com; Age: 38; Industry: Digital media
As the general manager of 24.com, Cohen oversees a business that reaches more than four-and-a-half million digital consumers in three languages in a number of African countries. After heading up News24.com’s publishing business, Cohen was promoted to GM of 24.com last year. This is no small feat considering that he is a self-taught techie, “with a degree from the school of hard knocks and a major in learning”. He is also a founding member of the online publishers association (DMMA).
Cohen was 17 when he started out as a night shift copy boy on Business Day, running through reams of wire copy on old mainframe systems and taking news items to the relevant reporter or editor.
Unique: Cohen has a fondness for economics, technology and Irish Single Malt, and has not bought a newspaper in more than five years.
Deputy MD of Starcom MediaVest Group; Age: 37; Industry: Media agency
As the director of Starcom MediaVest Group’s Media Implementation Department and the Africa Department, Collins is one of a handful of people in SA with a comprehensive understanding of the African media landscape. In one year she has extended SMG’s Africa footprint from 32 to 41 countries, driving the business forward in its most successful year yet. She has acted as judge in the 2009 and 2011 Roger Garlick Awards, and sits on the South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF) Committee. Her commitment to research in Africa has earned her the Pan African Media Research Organisation (PAMRO) achiever of the year award.
Unique: Collins is an advanced diver, and has just recently started breeding her horse.
Group head of news at eNews; Age: 39; Industry: Broadcasting
Under Conroy’s watch, eNews has grown from a 30-minute nightly bulletin to a multi-channel news operation and 24-hour news channel with over 500 staff. Conroy was appointed news editor in 2004 and was tasked with turning around the ailing news brand. He oversaw the growth of eNews ‘Prime Time’ and launched the eNews Channel on DStv award. He has a multi-disciplinary approach to brand management and incorporates hands-on involvement with editorial, marketing, HR, business, strategy and recruiting. Conroy also oversaw the launch of eNews Africa and eNuus on kykNet.
Unique: In 1996, he spent time on highest mountain on earth with the first South African Everest expedition team.
MD of Page Three Media; Age: 37; Industry: Media agency
Page Three Media rose from relative obscurity to win the MOST Award for specialist agency in 2011. Dearnaley and her company deliver strategic and innovative media solutions using independent and well-networked media individuals. She has been key to its success and, with her partners, Dearnaley has sourced over R1 billion worth of business over four years.
She recently negotiated an international partnership, selling 70% of the Page Three Media to PHD – a global innovator in communications planning.
Dearnaley graduated from the AAA School of Advertising in 1995 as the top graduate and cut her teeth as a media strategist in both the UK and SA for five years across major blue chip accounts.
Unique: Dearnaley is a closet karaoke singer.
Jacques du Preez
CEO of Provantage Out of Home (OOH) Media; Age: 39; Industry: OOH media
After starting Provantage in 2003, Du Preez developed the company into the fastest growing out of home (OOH) media owner in South Africa. Provantage has since been at the forefront of changing the OOH media landscape and reaching consumers in innovative ways. Du Preez cites passionate obsession, teamwork and like mindedness as the company’s key to success.
Du Preez began his career slogging it out cleaning fridges at Nestlé, and soon graduated into a marketing director position at ComutaNet. His willingness to challenge the status quo in the very competitive OOH media industry landed him the MOST Award for media owner innovator two years in a row (2010 and 2011).
Unique: Du Preez is passionate about reading, biltong, rugby, and his Afrikaner heritage.
GM of Daily Sun, Sunday Sun and City Press; Age: 35; Industry: Newspaper
Ferreira disproves the theory that journalists lack the mettle to move seamlessly into management. Her portfolio of newspapers has the highest reach nationally with a combined readership of 7 172 000 and R500 million in annual revenue (AdEx).
As Deon du Plessis’ protégé, she was part of the team that built the successful Daily Sun and saw it rise to become the biggest paper in South Africa. She was promoted to general manager at the beginning of 2011. She was also instrumental in the re-launch of Sunday Sun in 2008 that saw a rise in its circulation from 190 000 to 230 000.
She has worked as a crime reporter, radio journalist, communications officer, sub-editor, assistant editor, and news editor at a range of successful media houses.
Unique: Ferreira is a fan of World War II movies.
COO for Kagiso Broadcasting; Age: 39; Industry: Broadcasting
Grubb started at Kagiso in July 2011 and is responsible for the success of Jacaranda 94.2 and East Coast Radio, two key assets in the Kagiso group that together reach an audience of almost four million people. He developed Jafm, the first online listener-driven Afrikaans radio channel. Grubb is also developing business models that will reduce radio’s reliance on advertising as the primary revenue source.
As former programme manager at 5FM, he repositioned the station from an ageing and exclusive brand to what is now the SABC’s most diverse station. At 25, he was employed at Radio Algoa and was the youngest commercial news editor in the country.
Unique: Grubb sailed as a teenager, but is still teased today for “placing consistently at the back of the fleet” – always coming last in competitions.
MD of MEC Group South Africa; Age: 35; Industry: Media agency
Before being snapped up by MEC Group South Africa this year, Gunning was MD for Carat (Johannesburg) for almost two years, where she grew billings to R900 million and won blue chip business from clients such as Cell C, Nokia and Renault.
This media agency guru began her career at Media Compete in 1997 and rapidly rose through the ranks into a management position. She worked for Starcom and FCB Headspace before her appointment as head of strategy at Nota Bene. She has worked on several international and big brands, including Coca Cola, MTN, Vodacom and Tiger Brands, and has won Roger Garlick, Raptor and Media Cannes awards for her work.
Unique: Gunning was her school’s sportswoman of the year when in matric.
Station manager for Talk Radio 702; Age: 38; Industry: Broadcasting
Gwangwa is a lawyer by training, and began her career in broadcasting at the then Independent Broadcasting Authority (now ICASA) in 1998. She took over the reins at Talk Radio 702 in 2005, after a successful stint as regulatory affairs manager at Primedia.
She helped maintain its position as the number one news and talk station, leading the team that grew its audience from 238 000 to 665 000 listeners, and guiding it to win the Station of the Year Award two years in a row at the MTN Radio Awards. She was the Women in The Media Award winner in 2008.
Unique: Gwangwa enjoys spending weekends in her pyjamas, when she shuts out the world and just dedicates her time to her daughter.
CEO and founder of The Habari Group; Age: 35; Industry: Media and marketing communications
Hewlett grew the Habari Group from a start-up in 2004 to the six-division strong company it is today. He was appointed chair of the Online Publishers Association in 2008 (now Digital Media and Marketing Association) and guided this sector for three years.
This digital media, below-the-line marketing and advertising innovator jointly launched South Africa’s first dedicated digital advertising and publishing awards, The Bookmarks. Habari Media is the official sales partner for Facebook in Africa and has an annual group turnover of R150 million.
Unique: Having grown up in Zambia, Swaziland, Mozambique and Belgium, Hewlett attended 12 schools and is proud not to have been expelled once.
Daily Maverick political columnist; Age: 23; Industry: Online media
Hlongwane’s Twitter profile (@ComradeSipho) describes him as: “mildly amused. Raconteur. Roisterer. Roarer. Gorger”. Hlongwane is the epitome of an up-and-coming new media journalist, and has, according to Gus Silber, become an opinion-shaper in the online sphere. “His witty and passionate columns and opinions … stir intense debate.”
He won the best columnist award in the Western Cape leg of the 2011 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards for his regular column in The Big Issue SA. Silber says Hlongwane is “the very model of a modern non-journalist who journals a heck of a lot better and smarter than a lot of journalists”.
Unique: Hlongwane was born left-handed, but was forced to write with his right hand when he started school.
Executive producer for Talk Radio 702; Age: 30; Industry: Broadcasting
In his role as senior producer on Talk Radio 702, Jojwana helped double the audience figures of the Afternoon Drive Show. His role was pivotal in Talk Radio 702 reaching the 600 000 mark in audience figures in 2011. He won Best Talk Producer of Year in the MTN Radio Awards 2010.
Jojwana is described as having an acute understanding of the rapidly changing world of media with the advent of social networking and the internet, and is responsible for content management on The Afternoon Drive and Early Breakfast Show.
Unique: Jojwana started out as a copywriter for a travel agency. He can also move his ears independently of each other.
News editor for City Press; Age: 30; Industry: Newspaper
Joseph was writing stories at the age of 11 when she tagged along with her father Ray Joseph, then Sunday Times Cape bureau chief. Her passion for working copy, brainstorming ideas and planning with reporters landed her the position of news editor at Cape Argus at the tender age of in 28.
Executive editor at The Cape Argus, Gasant Abarder, says she is a dynamic and perceptive leader who thinks on her feet, and is always firm but fair in the newsroom. Having just been appointed news editor for City Press, Joseph is destined for great things in the media. In 2010, she won the 1st for Women in The Media Rising Star award.
Unique: Joseph’s second-choice career is as a stand-up comedian.
Primedia Broadcasting group editor-in-chief and head of Eyewitness News; Age: 36; Industry: Broadcasting
Katopodis is a force to be reckoned with and has been instrumental in shaping Eyewitness News as a leading news brand. She is known for her hands-on approach, and has been extremely vocal in the fight for media freedom and has openly challenged government with regards to the Protection of State Information Bill.
She has taken up battles against unconstitutionality, exclusion and the ANC’s attempt at electioneering on the Primedia Broadcasting premises. Katopodis showed her commitment to uncovering stories when she went undercover, while heavily pregnant, to investigate illegal abortions.
Unique: Katopodis has a morbid fascination with aeroplane crashes and a great passion for shoes.
CEO of The SpaceStation; Age: 38; Industry: Digital display advertising
Since his appointment as CEO of The SpaceStation in 2009, Luscombe has been working to grow the digital advertising sector in South Africa. Under his leadership, the company has won three successive MOST Awards for the best digital media sales team in South Africa. He was previously GM of 24.com Advertising Sales, and was also deputy GM of Sales for Oracle Airtime (now DStv Media Sales).
He has raised the profile of The SpaceStation network to that of a dynamic and efficient marketing vehicle offering unique user engagement and branding opportunities.
Unique: Luscombe enjoys surfing, golf and a host of endurance sports. He has completed five Duzi canoe marathons, as well as the Two Oceans marathon.
5FM station manager; Age: 31; Industry: Broadcasting
At the age of 29, Mohamed was the youngest station manager 5FM had ever appointed, and has since helped the station reach 2,35 million listeners, its highest listenership figure to date.
She has worked on a number of high profile events and campaigns, including some of the biggest music concerts and festivals in South Africa, and 5FM’s Power of Five campaign. She began working with Primedia Broadcasting in 2001, and became marketing manager for the station in 2005. Mohamed has also worked for MTV Networks Africa as marketing manager for MTV Base.
Unique: As much as she loves new music, Mohamed is a closet Michael Bublé fan.