We believe in paying tribute to those who excel and we make a point of noticing the leaders among us. We know that it takes more than just hard work to be a leader and to be powerful in the media industry. And to do so before your 40th birthday says a great deal about you and your career.
Why choose 40 as the cut-off age, you may ask? For the first 25 years of your life, you are learning and only then do you start to become a contributing member of society. So, if within the next 15 years you can become one of the most powerful and influential people in the media industry, you deserve to be recognised.
This is not just about media owners: it covers everyone in the industry, from media strategists, planners and media sales folk, to journalists and cartoonists, among others. And for you to make the list, we consider everything from 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.
The criteria for making the list are simple: the person nominated has to be making a real difference in the industry and, if they were listed last year, they also needed to have improved their track record in the last 12 months to remain on the list.
Almost 200 people were nominated this year and we had a tough task researching and checking out each one to establish exactly who were in the top 40 under 40 in the media industry.
We didn’t ensure we had a correct percentage of people according to race or gender. We looked for those who had the most influence among the nominees.
Here are the people The Media believes are the 40 most powerful and influential people under the age of 40 in our industry. Congratulations! We salute you!
MARCH ASHTON. Editor of Finweek. Age: 31
Marc Ashton is a multi award-winning journalist who began his career in 2005 as a freelance business writer.
In August 2011, Ashton was appointed editor of Finweek. Since then he has repositioned the publication, developed its online presence and rebuilt the brand awareness and team.
He also changed the management style of the magazine, throwing out of the window a lot of the old rules of financial journalism and bringing into the mix a number of promising young new journalists to create an enthusiastic team.
Ashton won the Sanlam Best Newcomer to Financial Journalism Award in 2008 and the Telkom Classic Business Journalist of the Year Award in 2010.
Unique: Ashton enjoys Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books and likes titles by Michael Lewis and John Locke.
ADRIAAN BASSON. Assistant editor at City Press. Age: 32
After 10 years as a journalist, Adriaan Basson is at the top of his game. As assistant editor of City Press, he was a key player in the team that revamped the newspaper into one of South Africa’s best Sunday reads.
As investigative reporter, he has been at the forefront of breaking, game-changing stories like the Richard Mdluli scandal, Julius Malema’s financial troubles and ‘Nkandlagate’.
Basson is fearless and has become an influential commentator on corruption and good governance.
In 2012, he and Piet Rampedi won the CNN African Print Journalist of the Year Award for their investigation into Malema. At the end of 2012, he published the highly anticipated and much talked-about book ‘Zuma Exposed’.
Unique: Basson is a huge music fan. He plays the piano and accordion and secretly admires Lady Gaga, Die Antwoord and Spoek Mathambo.
CHRIS BOTHA. Group managing director at The MediaShop. Age: 35
Chris Botha is one of the youngest media agency leaders in the country, with an agency billing in excess of R3 billion. Under his guidance, The MediaShop is experiencing some of its best successes yet.
Botha and his team launched two initiatives last year. The first, Media Owner Briefing sessions, enabled clients to brief up to 120 media owners on their annual plans. This improved communication between media agencies, advertisers and media owners. They also launched the Media Education Series, offering clients a platform for their staff to receive media-specific education from various MediaShop leaders.
Botha’s team also won Overall Media Agency of the Year, as well as Full Service Media Agency of the Year, at the 2012 MOST Awards for the second consecutive year.
Unique: Botha’s dream job is to be a sport journalist. He is so obsessed with sport that
he used to run his own sports show on a campus radio station, and he worked for
supersport.com as a journalist.
CELIA COLLINS. Deputy managing director of Starcom MediaVest Group. Age: 38
In 2005, Celia Collins was appointed director of Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG), one of the world’s largest brand communications and consumer contact organisations.
Subsequently, she was recognised as the Pan African Media Research Organisation’s Achiever of the Year in 2007 and was selected by the Advertising Media Association of South Africa to serve as a judge of the 2009 and 2011 Roger Garlick Awards. In addition, she sits on the South African Advertising Research Foundation committee.
In 2008, she was appointed head of media buying at Starcom, while retaining her responsibilities as director, and in 2010 she was selected out of 92 global offices to attend the SMG ‘Top Gun’ Leadership Programme in Turkey. She was subsequently named deputy managing director of the Starcom MediaVest Group in 2011.
Unique: Collins bred her thoroughbred mare with a top Namibian Warmblood in 2012 and in December the mare gave birth to a colt.
MINETTE FERREIRA. General manager of Daily Sun, Sunday Sun and City Press. Age: 35
Minette Ferreira was newspaper giant Deon du Plessis’ protégé. He made sure she was “providing skilled editorial and managerial backup for the ‘rigour and order’ he demanded in support of his many projects”, says Jos Kuper, print media research expert. With Du Plessis’ sudden death last year, Ferreira became GM and “steered the Sun ship on an even keel, much of the time without an editor”.
Daily Sun is the largest-selling newspaper in the country and sub-Saharan Africa.
City Press editor Ferial Haffajee describes Minette as “one of few women GMs and a brilliant, path-clearing one”.
In October 2012, Ferreira launched Daily Sun TV on Mzanzi Magic. It is South Africa’s first newspaper television show that aims to bring alive the print stories.
Unique: “Ferreira is a mean hunter, shopper and fashionista, a consummate professional who can swear like Du Plessis when she gets going,” says Kuper.
KEVIN FINE. General manager at Jacaranda FM. Age: 39
Kevin Fine became a household name on air as the host of ‘Kevin’s Rise ’n Fine’ on 5FM, but he is really making his mark runnning the show behind the scenes at Jacaranda FM.
Since he took the reins in the middle of 2011, he has rebranded the station with the pay-off line ‘SA’s best mix of the ‘80s, ‘90s and now’, and helped the listenership to grow to over two million.
Says Nick Grubb, MD of radio for Kagiso Broadcasting: “ Kevin and his team are enjoying great success in a number of new initiatives for the station, from innovative promotions and campaigns to great new on-air content and programming.”
Fine’s efforts won Jacaranda FM two diamond awards at the PMR.africa City of Tshwane Leaders and Achievers Awards.
Unique: Fine founded a sports development programme in 1996 that has educated more than 30 000 children across South Africa and says that he is a “mean djembe drummer”.
STEPHEN GROOTES. Talk Radio 702 and 567 CapeTalk presenter, EWN senior political journalist and contributing editor. Age: 37
Stephen Grootes is one of South Africa’s pre-eminent political journalists. In September 2012, this multi-award-winner took over as host of the Midday Report on Talk Radio 702 and 567 CapeTalk from broadcast veteran Chris Gibbons.
Grootes has excelled in hosting this interactive show that looks at the big news and political issues of the day.
Primedia Broadcasting Group news and current affairs head Yusuf Abramjee says, “Stephen is a dynamic, seasoned journalist who understands radio news. He is an all-rounder with outstanding talent and flair. He is an award-winning reporter who has an exciting career ahead of him.”
Grootes celebrated a decade with Eyewitness News in 2012 when he was also appointed contributing editor to Business Day, for which he writes a regular column.
Unique: When Grootes was little he wanted to be a zookeeper.
ERICA GUNNING. Managing director of the MEC Group. Age: 36
Erica Gunning has a reputation in the industry for being a “doer”. MEC Group CEO Michelle Meyjes says: “She is a natural leader and inspires confidence in everyone she works with.”
Gunning was head of strategy for Nota Bene before being appointed MD of Carat SA’s Johannesburg office in 2010. In February 2012, she joined the MEC Group as MD.
“In a short time, Erica has made her mark. She came into a situation that necessitated transition and she stamped her style of leadership and instilled confidence,” says Meyjes.
In 2012, she became chairperson of the Advertising Media Forum and has “given this organisation teeth and visibility” to tackle industry challenges head-on.
Gunning has won the Rodger Garlick, Raptor and Media Cannes awards for her work, together with Procter&Gamble’s Global Award.
Unique: Gunning loves watching cricket.
SAZI HADEBE. Editor of Isolezwe. Age: 38
Sazi Hadebe oversees Independent Newspapers’ editions of the Zulu titles – Isolezwe daily, Isolezwe NgeSonto (a Sunday newspaper) and the weekly Post – which sell around 700 000 copies a week and cater to over one million readers.
Appointed in July 2012, Hadebe leads a team motivated by a responsibility to meet readers’ expectations. Hadebe has worked for Isolezwe for nine years since its launch, first as a sports reporter.
Under his leadership, Isolezwe continues to grow from the first to the second quarter ABCs in a difficult economy. At 90 092, Isolezwe ngeSonto has reached a new high – up 5.3% quarter-on-quarter and 11.8% year-on-year.
Unique: Hadebe grew up aspiring to play football for one of the top teams in the top flight. Now he is an editor with wild dreams of coaching Bafana Bafana one day.
ADRIAN HEWLETT. Founder of The Habari Group and MACHINE. Age: 36
In 2004, Adrian Hewlett founded The Habari Group, a multi-faceted media and marketing business with footholds in below–the-line marketing, digital media advertising and mass market messaging.
In late 2011, Hewlett led the company through a major restructuring, which saw The Habari Group’s four previously independent marketing divisions – Direct (now re-branded Creature), Big Wednesday, Domino (digital) and Answered – unite to form a single integrated below-the-line agency, MACHINE.
MACHINE is now South Africa’s fourth biggest independent advertising agency, securing an annual revenue in excess of
R40 million, representing 50% growth over the previous year. MACHINE also ranked ninth at the Loeries in 2012.
Hewlett was a finalist for the Financial Mail AdFocus Agency Leader of the Year.
Unique: Hewlett grew up in Mozambique and speaks English, French and Portuguese.
NATASHA JOSEPH. News editor at City Press. Age: 31
When City Press editor Ferial Haffajee was putting together her perfect team to take on a new market in 2012, she convinced diehard Capetonian Natasha Joseph to leave her position as news editor at the Cape Argus and move to Gauteng.
“Natasha is possibly one of the finest news editors in the country,” says Haffajee. “She is a protégé and definitely a future editor.”
Joseph has not disappointed and is an excellent newsroom leader who ensures her team brings only the best news and writing to the newspaper.
Her passion for working copy, brainstorming ideas and planning with reporters landed her the Cape Argus position at 28.
She also won the 2010 Women in the Media Rising Star award and was among the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans in 2011.
Unique: Joseph is a huge fan of musicals, especially ‘Rent’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’.
KATY KATOPODIS. Editor-in-chief of Eyewitness News. Age: 37
Katy Katopodis was promoted to editor-in-chief of Eyewitness News (EWN) in August 2008 and has been driving the news brand’s evolution ever since.
In 2012, Katopodis steered the respected news brand into the next phase of its digital evolution. The website was relaunched with a cleaner look and feel and a whole lot more content. She also introduced South Africa’s first ever cartoon for radio. Her vision included consistently pushing EWN’s social media strategy, which has improved over the last year.
Last year was full of major news stories and Katopodis led teams based in Cape Town and Johannesburg to bring breaking news, analysis and exclusives from across the country, including Limpopo, Marikana, De Doorns and Mangaung.
Unique: As a child, Katopodis wanted to be an actress (and win an Oscar). Becoming a journalist only became an option later.
LISA LEACH. Director of strategy at OMD South Africa. Age: 34
For Lisa Leach, the highlight of 2012 was being appointed strategy director of the largest media agency in South Africa and its subsequent selection as Financial Mail AdFocus Media Agency of the Year.
Since her appointment, Leach solidified partnerships with creative agencies. She is proud of the work they did with Liberty Life in 2012, leveraging the association with judges’ feedback in talent shows, to help them promote the value of ‘good advice’.
Her team helped Frisco Coffee shed its old-fashioned image during a fun-filled campaign in which DJ Black Coffee ‘mugged’ fans all over SA and took Frisco to the top of the trend list on Twitter for a night. On Standard Bank, they leveraged their broadcast relationships to turn around a television series in only three months.
Unique: Leach is a Pinterest addict. “As a social platform, Pinterest helps me satisfy my passion for interior design.”
ANNIE MALAN. CEO of Annie Malan Promotions. Age: 38
Since this leading woman launched Annie Malan Promotions (AMP) a
decade ago, its turnover has grown annually. In
10 years, it has always had a seven-figure turnover and its year-on-year growth has been up to 50% and never less than 10%.
AMP is one of South Africa’s biggest brand activation companies, successfully creating interactive advertising campaigns and driving sales and feet through doors. Malan says that AMP increases clients’ marketshare by anything from two to 24%.
Malan has sales training centres around the country and has trained banking and cellphone company staff, among others. She has also trained 2134 young people as Annie Malan brand ambassadors.
Malan is also an actress and TV presenter. In 2012, she was a judge on kykNET’s equivalent of ‘Idols’.
Unique: Malan is writing a television script and hopes to go into production this year.
IAN MANNING. CEO of MediaCom. Age: 39
Under Ian Manning’s well-respected leadership, MediaCom won the largest media pitch of 2012 (Telkom, 8TA). It integrated and grew its digital division business further to 25% of its staff. MediaCom increased its focus on social media community management and improved its BEE rating to Level 2.
It set up a staff trust to allow ownership of the business by BEE staff and increased billing by about 60% and profit by even more. In total, the company has won R120 million worth of new business.
“He has been a truly transformational leader who has led MediaCom in defining its vision of becoming the modern South African communications agency,” says Britta Reid, managing director at MediaCom.
Unique: Manning DJed in various dodgy bars, at weddings and 21sts before going into media.
CRAIG MCKUNE. Investigative reporter at the Mail & Guardian amaBhungane investigative unit. Age: 32
Craig McKune is a science graduate and former magazine editor who joined the Cape Times in 2008. Since joining amaBhungane in 2011, McKune has uncovered complex state-leasing scams; revealed how Julius Malema was able to hand out tenders to his friends; exposed Cape Town’s mob scene;
been a thorn in the side of presidential contenders; and shown how a US investment fund financed Robert Mugabe’s electioneering in 2008.
“Craig McKune is a patient assembler of delicate forensic puzzles who also has an eye for character and story,” says M&G editor Nic Dawes.
He was among the Digital Journalism Award winners at the CNN Multichoice African Journalist Awards 2012, was a finalist in the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards 2012 and was commended in the Mondi Shanduka Newspaper Awards in 2011.
Unique: McKune plays in a punk rock band.
MPUMELELO MKHABELA. Editor of the Sowetan. Age: 35
Mpumi Mkhabela was appointed editor of the Sowetan in 2011.
City Press editor Ferial Hafajee says he is “a real star and has revamped the Sowetan to find the correct market position”.
Mkhabela started out as a library assistant at the University of Limpopo where he graduated with a BA degree in politics. After completing an honours degree in journalism at the University of Stellenbosch, he joined City Press.
He moved to the Sunday Times as a senior political writer and parliamentary bureau chief. He became deputy editor of the Sunday Independent and then editor of the Daily Dispatch before the Sowetan snapped him up.
Former editor-in-chief of Avusa Media (now Times Media Group) Mondli Makhanya says, “Mkhabela believes in strong debate and editorial integrity, while also embracing the synergy between print and digital media.”
Unique: Mkhabela dreamt of being in the media when he grew up.
CHRIS MAROLENG. Editor of eNews Channel Africa and host of Africa 360. Age: 35
Chris Maroleng left his career in academia in 2008 to launch eNews Channel Africa (eNCA). Maroleng’s team also provides the nightly news for The Africa Channel on the UK’s Sky pay-TV.
Maroleng hosts the in-depth Africa 360
on eNCA, a programme that features African
stories and in-depth interviews with prominent newsmakers around the continent, and in 2011 bagged an exclusive interview with United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
City Press editor Ferial Haffajee says: “His Africa 360 and fine TV style have made him a leading continental reporter, who is given to exposition, not exposé.”
eNCA group head of news Patrick Conroy says that while South Africans may not know him that well, “his impact is certainly being felt elsewhere on the continent”.
Unique: Maroleng used to be an analyst with the Institute for Security Studies.
AISHA MOHAMMED. Station manager of 5FM. Age: 32
Aisha Mohammed was marketing manager at 5FM for three years before she spread her wings to MTV Networks Africa. But, before long she came back (in 2010) to 5FM as station manager.
Under Mohammed’s leadership, 5FM has grown by over a million new loyal listeners to its highest audience to date of 2.35 million.
Also, under Mohammed’s watch, 5FM won Commercial Station of the Year at the MTN Radio Awards and was the only African radio station to be nominated alongside the likes of BBC Radio1 and Triple J (Australia) for “influential international station” at the Worldwide Radio Summit in 2012.
She has maintained 5FM’s status as the Sunday Times Generation Next Survey’s coolest radio station for its seventh year.
Unique: Mohammed has a serious phobia about not being tidy and organised.
PETER MONAISE. Partner responsible for digital and invention at Mindshare. Age: 38
Peter Monaise joined Mindshare in 2006 as one of its directors and became responsible for some of its major international clients.
In 2011 and 2012, he initiated two new portfolios – a digital media team and an invention team that is responsible for new opportunities like content creation, activations and big ideas that extend beyond media. Both initiatives have been extremely successful.
Last year Monaise managed to position digital as a core component of the communications platform within Mindshare and their client base, ensuring integration in the process. Mindshare’s digital billings have increased by over 100% year-on-year, making digital a viable revenue stream for the agency.
Unique: Monaise is sports mad. During his free time, you will find him in a soccer, rugby or cricket stadium, cheering one of his favourite teams.