Last year, Primedia Broadcasting turned over a whopping R1-billion, no small feat in a tricky economic climate. At its helm is CEO Terry Volkwyn, winner of the 1st for Women Insurance Company Women of the Decade in Media Award, a woman, her colleagues say, “leads outside what is required”.
“The social initiatives – such as Lead SA and Crimeline – are nothing short of significant, her support of sport is amazing. The news arm of Primedia, Eyewitness News, sets the news and political agenda,” said Sandra Gordon, CEO of Wag the Dog and publisher of The Media magazine.
“Terry has not only significantly enabled the growth of broadcasting in South Africa, but, through her corporate social responsibility initiatives, has inspired a nation to be active citizens,” said Gordon.
“The awards’ purpose is to celebrate women’s outstanding contribution to the economic, social and political landscape primarily through their roles as media industry leaders. All of our finalists fulfilled this criteria, so it was a tough and complex process to name a winner.”
Volkwyn told the audience that she was relieved to have won, as the pressure from her team was enormous. She said she was “apprehensive” on the morning of the awards when cars arrived in her driveway, disgorging hair and make up artists.
“I’ve been a finalist twice and never won, so I’ll take this one, thank you!” she laughed, and congratulated her fellow finalists, Ferial Haffajee and Esmare Weideman.
“To my senior management team – 50 / 50 men and women – thank you. Without your support, drive and crap, this wouldn’t be possible. And to staff, all 350 of you, you make it happen.
Volkwyn said she appreciated the vote by the judges. “These awards are a great motivator,” she said. “But on a serious note, the glass ceiling is there to be broken and I saw to the young stars, it’s up to you to take it to the next level. The media industry is a vibrant one, and we have to keep it to high standards and serve superior, high quality journalism. We have a responsibility to maintain the highest ethics and morals.”
Volkwyn believes in order for South Africa to flourish, and reach its highest potential, corruption and greed have to be rooted out. “It is the root of all evil in South Africa,” she said. “Media freedom is key. My personal bugbear is that all leaders must be held accountable.”
And it is up to an active citizenry to hold them accountable, she says. “It’s the responsibility of ALL citizens, not just the media.” Volkwyn said the Lead SA project tried to do just that and the fact that deputy president, Kgalema Motlanthe, will be the keynote speaker at the Lead SA second birthday showed that for the first time, government had taken note of the initiative.
On making it to the top in the tough business of media, Volkwyn had some advice. “Never be a victim,” she said. “Play the game, and when you reach the top, you can demand that things be done differently. You known, that certain jokes just don’t fly.”