Tanya Schreuder’s energy is astounding and her passion for this industry is immense. Find out more about the MOST Awards Media Agency Rising Star.
When Tanya Schreuder walks into a room, those who don’t know her could be forgiven for thinking she is a model or possibly a creative in an ad agency. But under that poised and generally smiling image, she is a hardcore business owner whose one career goal is to build Vizeum SA – the company of which she and Richard Procter are joint MDs – into the best media agency in the country (and to have fun doing it).
She is on the right path and her passion for this industry and what she does is contagious.
Schreuder is coming up to her 20th year in this industry, doing what she loves – media and channel strategy. She has a Bachelor of Communications and a post-graduate diploma in advertising. But she had no desire to take this path, and says she stumbled on it. “I went to AAA to become a suit. There was an opportunity to get a bursary in media, which I did not get… But I decided then that this was a path that intrigued me. I have not looked back since I graduated in 1993.”
She worked as a media planner for Bates for two years before moving to Sonnenburg Murphy Leo Burnett. She was media manager at Herdbouys McCann Erickson (1998-1999) where she headed up the General Motors business, and worked on Gillette. She was one of the founding members of Nota Bene (2000-2003) where she helped set up the Johannesburg office and grow the group’s business.
She joined FCB Cape Town in October 2003 and grew the team from three to 11. She was made group media director for FCB Headspace in April 2006 and was responsible for the group’s integrated media offering, among many other tasks.
And then, the moment Schreuder regards as career defining, happened in September 2007 when she and Procter launched Vizeum South Africa. She says that day was the most memorable and nerve-wracking of her career. “We believed that we were launching something really special.”
Since then, she says, she learnt to run a media business the hard way. “You can only really learn on the job…no book could have prepared me for how tough it really is.”
Schreuder says she is the eternal optimist, but what she describes as her worst character flaw is what makes the impossible possible: “I am oblivious to time and the fact that it is limited, so I believe I can get way more done in 24 hours.” And when the stress really hits, she keeps going with her “belief that all will be okay in the morning”.
And since Vizeum launched, she says, her proudest moments have been when the company pitched and won the Coronation media business and when they won Finweek’s Small Media Agency of the Year in 2011.
Outside of running her business, Schreuder is a mother of two young children. How does she cope with it all? “I try to not go to bed feeling guilty. I truly love what I do and I have two wonderful children who have quality time with their mom rather than just quantity,” she says. “And of course I have a husband who is very supportive and is a wonderful father.”
And when she needs cheering up, her favourite thing to do is “dance around the living room with my kids to very loud music”.
When the job is done (if it ever is totally) and she has time to kick back, Schreuder says: “I enjoy just being with my family, reading the latest international fashion magazine on my iPad. Ok and I will admit it…doing a little bit of shopping!” Or perhaps she might be caught making her “to-die-for lemon meringue pie”.
Her children are the centre of her universe and she says when they grow up she hopes they will say: “My mom was always there for us and she made sure that we always felt loved.”
In the industry, she hopes to be remembered for “inspiring new and fresh talent into media strategy”. She explains how she plans to achieve that: “I lecture when I can and it keeps me inspired and ensures that I don’t lose sight of what I love about this industry.”
But if all else fails (and it won’t), she may be tempted into the career she would have chosen if she hadn’t fallen into media – fashion. Are you surprised?
This story was first published in the September 2012 issue of The Media magazine.