The Media magazine pays tribute to some of the most influential women in the broader media industry. Joanna Wright seeks them out.
South Africa’s women in the media have come of age. There are not just a few significant women dotted about, they are now in most key positions and growing. The Media compiled this list of women achieving great things in the broader landscape of the media, from academia and publishing to research.
We pay tribute to these women, partly through the voices of their colleagues and informed industry commentators. While this is by no means intended to be a definitive list, we have found inspiring women who exemplify success in their chosen field.
Academia and Training
Professor Jane Duncan may have stumbled into her calling, but she has since “been at the forefront of media criticism, free expression advocacy and public debate for a number of years”, says Professor Anton Harber. Duncan began temping as a receptionist at what would become the Freedom of Expression Institute, and ended up directing the organisation from 2001 to 2009.
In 2009, she took up her current post of Highway Chair of Media and Information Society in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University. Harber, the director of the Wits Journalism Programme, says that she has produced “a stream of provocative work that includes some of the most interesting and stimulating to come out of this country”. Harber cites as particularly outstanding her “valuable” book on the SABC, ‘Broadcasting and the National Question’, and her recent critiques of ANC media policy.
Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli holds the Unesco Chair in Communication, is a full professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Culture and Media in Society and has published widely on media issues. Says Harber: “Ruth Teer-Tomaselli has a long record of research, writing and teaching that has contributed significantly to the understanding of our media and the debate around it. In particular she has been a stalwart in studying, producing and developing public service media.”
Teer-Tomaselli was twice on the SABC board and was vice president of the International Association for Media and Communication Research. She has consulted with agencies including the World Bank and the UN Development Programme. In her spare time she likes reading detective novels and cultivating bonsai trees.
With a long career in print and media training, Paula Fray “embodies the values and practises of the best of South African journalism”, says Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) director William Bird. Starting out as a cadet reporter on The Star, Fray was later its news editor, and then appointed editor of the Saturday Star, which made her the first woman editor of a mainstream newspaper. She received a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard. She founded her own consultancy for media advocacy, training and project management in 2004, which she still runs today. Between 2008 and 2012, she was also regional director for the development news agency, Inter Press Service Africa.
Fray sits on a number of boards, including that of the MMA. “Her commitment to improving the quality and capacity of media practitioners is tireless, focused and exceptional,” says Bird. “In her work and personal encounters she continues to promote the values enshrined in our constitution, especially addressing gender inequality and meaningful transformation. She is an asset to MMA’s board and an inspiration to those in the media sector.”
Zambezi FoX is the nomme de guerre of Jeanette Minnie, and the name of her consultancy. A comprehensive overview of her activist career would not be possible here – she’s just done so much – but suffice it to say she has worked all over the world on issues of freedom of expression and democratisation since the late 1980s. From 1994 to 1997, she was founding executive director of FXI, which she helped establish. She was the regional editor for a survey on public broadcasting in nine African countries; regional director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa and served as a member of the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s STREAM task team, among many other influential activities.
Broadcasting policy analyst and former SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition co-ordinator Kate Skinner says of her, “For decades, Jeanette has fought for freedom of expression, not only in South Africa but in Africa and internationally. I am in awe of her commitment and of the fact that her energy has never flagged.”
Minnie has recently taken over the deputy chair position of the SOS “and is ready to fight the ever-increasing battles to defend public broadcasting in the country”, says Skinner.
Then there’s Kate Skinner herself. Skinner spent five years as SOS co-ordinator, but stepped down last year to focus on her doctoral research. SOS was formed in 2008 in reaction to what many in academia, media and civil society saw as the breakdown of the SABC. Skinner was involved from the outset. She told The Media Online last year that the SOS has been successful in keeping “the need for a broadcasting policy review on the agenda – through thick and thin … we have managed to push the idea that the SABC belongs to us as citizens of South Africa”.
Skinner’s work in advocacy stretches back to 1994. She headed the communications department for the SA Democratic Teachers Union, was an advisor to the minister of provincial and local government and sat on the FXI board.
“Kate is an absolutely outstanding communicator,” says Bird. “Her skill is all the more impressive given that the issues she usually communicates are complex policy issues – she makes them clear and understandable.
“Kate has an ability to bring people with competing views together and to help them see others’ perspectives and yet ensure that her integrity on principled issues is never shaken.”
Primedia Broadcasting CEO Terry Volkwyn won Woman of the Decade in The Media last year. Starcom MediaVest’s Gordon Patterson describes her as someone who “did success the right way” – growing in a company and moving up the ranks through hard work, a gift for leadership and astute decisions.
Volkwyn has driven Primedia Broadcasting’s success, grown their revenue and their audiences and helped to increase their social responsibility profile with initiatives like LeadSA and CrimeLine. Primedia’s four radio brands – Talk Radio 702, 94.7 Highveld Stereo, Kfm 94.5 and 567 CapeTalk – are some of South Africa’s favourite stations. She has also driven racial and gender transformation at her company.
Volkwyn cut her teeth as a sales rep for Rand Daily Mail and Sunday Express in 1983. She joined Talk Radio 702’s sales department in 1986 and was leading the team at just 26 years old. At 702, and then at 94.7 Highveld Stereo and 567 CapeTalk, she developed brilliant sales teams and grew the stations’ revenue.
Volkwyn was appointed CEO in 2002. In 2003 and 2004, Primedia Broadcasting began to integrate the sales teams and newsrooms of their four stations and Volkwyn drove this process. After the integration, revenue grew at all stations – and phenomenally so at Talk Radio 702. Volkwyn launched Eyewitness News, which has become a highly respected news brand.
While media outside the centres of Johannesburg and Cape Town tend to be sidelined, East Coast Radio (ECR) is certainly not. ECR is currently ranked the number one independent station in South Africa (RAMS 2013). And CEO Trish Taylor can take a great deal of the credit. In her first year alone, ECR grew revenue by 30%.
Taylor has been in media for over 20 years, having started out at the SABC in 1992. The public broadcaster knew they had a star on their hands and fast tracked her for management a couple of years later.
Back then, ECR was part of the SABC. But in 1996, the station became independent and Taylor was headhunted for the position of sales manager. She was appointed sales and marketing director in 1999 and made CEO in 2003. She was just 32, the youngest CEO in the Kagiso group, which owns ECR.
Under Taylor, ECR has won awards including Regional Brand of the Year 2012 at the FNB Top Business Portfolio awards.
Her colleague at ECR, marketing manager Renee Burton, says, “As in most industries, women in media need to shout a little louder to be heard and work that much harder to be seen. But within the realm of radio, Trish Taylor has managed to impact significantly in her day-to-day role. Her instinctive ability to think on her feet and roll out innovation has managed to position ECR as a force to be reckoned with.”
Patricia van Rooyen (or Scholtemeyer, as many still know her) became CEO of M-Net in 2008. Her colleagues over the years know her as a ‘tough cookie’, a phrase she has used to describe herself. Van Rooyen came to TV from print, having been Naspers magazines CEO. During her eight-year tenure with magazines, Naspers expanded from 16 to 65 titles.
Says M-Net’s director of Afrikaans channels Karen Meiring: “Under Patricia’s leadership M-Net has grown significantly from seven to 49 channels. Patricia is an extraordinary person to work with and quite fearless in the decisions that she makes. This makes her an exceptional leader.”
Van Rooyen fell in love with business when she began working in admin at chemicals company WR Grace after university. She joined Quest Personnel in the early 1980s, where she moved up the ranks, leaving the company 10 years later as marketing director. Van Rooyen, then in her early thirties, got her MBA from Wits Business School. She then approached Times Media Limited (now the Times Media Group) and convinced them to hire her as general manager of trade publications. Three years later, Naspers offered her the job of publisher of their women’s magazines, and a year later she was promoted to running the entire magazine division.
Bronwyn Keene-Young is “bloody smart, level headed and professionally tough”. These are the words of broadcast media consulltant and trainer, Howard Thomas, who says he has been following the career of Keene-Young, now e.tv’s COO, for many years.
Keene-Young has a Masters degree and a Bachelor of Law degree and is known in the industry to have a firm grasp of broadcasting from the legal side. She was involved in advocacy before joining e.tv – as head of the monitoring and complaints department for the Independent Broadcasting Authority of South Africa (Icasa) and then head of the Media Monitoring Division for Independent Media Commission. She co-founded the Media Monitoring Project (now MMA) to ensure fairness in media coverage.
Keene-Young initially worked with e.tv as a regulatory advisor and then in a number of capacities before becoming programme director. According to Thomas, she had a lot to do with the channel’s turnaround after a shaky beginning. “Marcel [Golding, e.tv CEO] really turned it around. And at the time, Bronwyn was very much in charge of programming. A turnaround like that is nothing short of a miracle,” says Thomas.
National Association of Broadcasting executive director Nadia Bulbulia says: “Bronwyn exudes passion and commitment and has an incredible work ethic. Her journey in broadcasting has been remarkable and she’s definitely upped the ante in South African television.”
Business of Media and Media Influencers
Print and Digital Media South Africa (PDMSA) counts the most important publishers among its members. The organisation’s CEO is Ingrid Louw.
PDMSA chairperson and Mail & Guardian CEO Hoosain Karjieker says: “Ingrid is hardworking and highly in tune with the dynamics of this industry despite having never worked in print before. She is passionate about its future and its success, and we can be proud about having her as our ambassador at a time when we face numerous challenges at various levels.”
Louw began her professional life as a high school teacher, and then joined Moribo Investments as assistant financial accountant and as HR officer.
Moribo is a division of Thebe Investment Corporation. When Thebe won the licence for the first black-owned independent radio station in South Africa in 1997, KayaFM, Louw joined the team responsible for establishing the new station, as administration and finance manager.
Her career in media continued with Makana Investment Corporation, where Louw was part of the team that set up the company and GABZ Radio in Botswana.
In 2003, Louw joined the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (Nemisa) as acting CFO. She was appointed CEO of PDMSA in 2007.
Louw has been on the boards of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), Media Advertising Print and Packaging Sector Education Training Authority (MAPPSETA) and South African Audience Research Foundation (Saarf), among others.
As CEO of Media24, Esmaré Weideman is arguably the most powerful woman in South African publishing. As a journalist, she gained experience in magazines and newspapers, and when she became an editor (within a year), it was of not just one, but three of Media24’s magazines – YOU, Huisgenoot and DRUM – magazines with some of the biggest circulations in the country.
In this role, she “succeeded in developing finely honed positioning for each [magazine] that resonated with the moving marketplace”, says print media expert Jos Kuper.
In 2011, she was appointed CEO. “She is an innovative thinker who has moved from being steeped in the editorial space, to that of heading a massive print company, recognising the importance of digitalisation on a variety of platforms, while not losing the value of the traditional print platform. She has a massive leadership role to play as CEO, and in helping to guide the strategic thinking necessary for preserving the values of print going forward,” says Kuper.
Clare O’Neil is known as one of those industry gems who can be called upon to tackle the tough jobs that others shy away from. Such was the case when she accepted the chair of Saarf in what is arguably the organisation’s darkest time in history.
O’Neil shook Saarf up, instigated an investigation into AMPS and launched the future-proofing project. She recently declined to accept her nomination for a second term.
O’Neill’s has over 30 years experience in media, spanning both media owners and agencies. O’Neil was among the team of eight who set up e.tv and became the channel’s commercial sales director. At M-Net, she became GM of marketing at Oracle TV Sales. She was MD of media agency, Initiative Media, before joining the SABC in 2001 as GM of TV sales and marketing. “Here she was credited for the implementation of commercially successful practises that secured a healthy revenue base for the public broadcaster in the TV space,” says Kuper.
She left SABC in 2005 to consult, but in 2010 was appointed to the SABC board. Says Kuper: “As a member of the recently dissolved board, Clare appears to have risen above the political divides to jeep her eye on the ball of the commercial imperatives in the advertising space.”
She was the MD of media agency Initiative Media and is a co-owner and director of outdoor company MMAP.
Virginia Hollis was MD of The MediaShop Sandton when she resigned last year to start her own strategic consultancy, Magnetic Connection. She now counts Times Media Group (TMG) and Power FM among her new clients.
Hollis, who has decades of experience in media buying, planning and strategy, is deeply respected in the media industry. She has been deputy chair of Saarf, chair of the Advertising Media Association of South Africa and a judge at the Cannes Media Awards. She was awarded Media Legend at the 2011 MOST Awards.
“Virginia Hollis ran The MediaShop’s Sandton operation for more than 15 years, assisting in building it into the business it is today,” MediaShop Group MD Chris Botha says.
“Virginia has a great passion for training youngsters and showing them the way. She is patient with junior staff, and has a way of making complex media issues appear easy. Virginia also elicits massive loyalty from her people. Her staff is willing to go to war for her.”
Jennifer Daniel has 30 years’ experience in media research in South Africa, particularly in television, and is regional director for Telmar Africa/Asia Pacific. Telmar is a global supplier of advertising media information software.
Daniel’s position is on a level not held by many women in South Africa, says Janet Proudfoot, e.tv GM of Group Research and Audience Strategy.
This is not Daniel’s first stint at Telmar: she worked at the company early on in her career. In between however, her career was in broadcast. Daniel has worked in radio and TV at SABC and at e.tv. At the latter, she was GM for Group Research and Audience Strategy, where she helped to develop the channel to be the second largest in the market.
Daniel has also chaired the Pan African Media Research Organisation, served on Saarf’s TAMS committee, represented the National Association of Broadcasters on the Saarf board and is a member of the South African Marketing Research Association.
“Jennifer is engaging and personable. She has a good grasp of South African media, particularly audience research at the highest level, and is one of the true experts in this field,” Proudfoot says.
“She is forward thinking, embraces the fast-changing and evolving media landscape, and is able to embrace international learnings and apply them here at home.”
Men still dominate the new frontier of digital media. While there is gender parity in online media consumption (this is true for most of the world, according to studies), in South Africa the power players in that space are men like GM of online at eNCA Tim Spira, or online media entrepreneur Matthew Buckland.
But with the digital landscape changing so rapidly and unpredictably, it’s fair to assume that women will soon be more evident, as rising stars like Memeburn/Ventureburn managing editor Michelle Atagana show.
Justine Limpitlaw has been a lawyer since 1994, with a focus on media and broadcasting law. As a communications law consultant (with a degree from Yale), she has represented and advised a range of telecommunications and broadcasting clients on regulatory matters, including licensing and access to information. She has advised major clients including the departments of communications and trade and industry, Icasa, and helped develop broadcasting policy for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.
While she has done significant work with the corporate sector, she has also lent her services to civil society pro bono or at hugely reduced rates. She has been the SOS Coalition’s “tireless” lawyer since the organisation was formed in 2008, says Skinner.
“With the Coalition she has helped fight a number of pieces of legislation, such as the Draft Public Service Broadcasting Bill 2009 that would have shifted the SABC in a state broadcaster direction… At the moment, Justine is helping the Coalition fight for the SABC to be turned into a Chapter 9 institution, like the Public Protector, to help safeguard the SABC’s independence.”
Pamela Stein “has been on the scene for decades now and is really excellent on her field”, says Limpitlaw of the Webber Wentzel partner. Stein has 22 years’ experience and is an expert in data protection, information and privacy law; media and internet law; and employment law.
She has advised a number of major corporations – among them Nike, Cartier, Google and General Electric – on data protection.
She has twice been appointed a judge of the Labour Court and has been the lead attorney in precedent-setting decisions in the labour law field.
In media, she advises a number of newspapers and TV programmes, and has extensive litigation experience in defamation and privacy law. The M&G included Stein in its Guide to Leading SA Women 2008 and 2009.
Two other lawyers, who may not have the same length of experience as Stein and Limpitlaw, but have made a huge impact in media law, are Okyerebea Ampofo-Anti and Emma Sadleir. Although the impact was felt from the work both had done as part of Webber Wentzel, Sadleir recently went on her own.
Ampofo-Anti works in a team that specialises in media law and public law. Her areas of expertise include all aspects of the law relating to information, such as access to information, data protection and privacy law.
Webber Wentzel partner Dario Milo says she “has been an integral member of my team in key victories in favour of the freedom of the media”. These included representing cartoonist Zapiro in the defamation litigation brought against him by President Jacob Zuma, and various submissions made to parliament on the Protection of State Information Bill.
Limpitlaw describes Sadleir (who recently left Webber Wentzel to start her own consultancy) as “clearly the ‘go-to’ lawyer for work on social media issues”.
Sadleir is an expert in social media law, defamation and privacy law and data protection. At Webber Wentzel, her work included making submissions on the ‘Secrecy Bill’ to the National Council of Provinces on behalf of the Gauteng Law Council, and acting as an adviser to clients such as M-Net, Times Media Group (formerly Avusa), M&G Limited and Independent Newspapers on defamation law. She also advises clients such as The Press Council of SA.
Heidi Brauer is famous among her industry peers for her smarts and sense of humour. And it shows in her work. While marketing director of low cost carrier kulula.com, she “really embraced the irreverent nature of the brand”, says renowned strategist Andy Rice.
Brauer is now head of marketing at Hollard. Says Rice: “She is a very well-rounded businesswoman. She came out of a market research background [as deputy CEO of Ipsos and Markinor], but she has managerial experience too. She’s atypical in that researchers are supposed to be confined to linear, rational thinking, but Heidi’s also very creative. She is digitally literate.
“And she’s a lovely, engaging, funny woman.”
Bernice Samuels very quickly made her name at FNB, where she is head of marketing. FNB’s innovative ad campaigns in a usually staid sector have been most effective in wooing consumers. South Africans were amused and annoyed in equal measure by the ‘Hello Steve’ commercials, but few ignored them. Samuels was named Marketing Personality of the Year at the Sunday Times Top Brand Awards in 2012.
Having studied for a BSc, Samuels has said she never thought she’d end up in marketing. Her career in media began in 1996, when she became head of business and strategic development and M-Net and then later CEO of Channel O and New Media.
“My first direct encounter with Bernice was when I was working on the ‘Jock of the Bushveld’ movie [as marketing director]. Bernice was instrumental in getting FNB to align with Jock in a character licensing deal,” says Rice.
“It was quite a brave move, but then FNB is characterised by more appetite for risk in their media approach. They don’t just do the same old thing. FNB has disrupted its category… and had a dramatic effect on all the banks.”
Leadership magazine describes Brenda Koornneef as one of the most powerful women in South African marketing. She is business executive of group marketing and corporate strategy at Tiger Brands – which is the largest FMCG company in Africa, and boasts over 40 brands, including the iconic Jungle Oats and Tastic rice.
Koornneef spent 15 years at Unilever before changing direction and joining the SABC as GM of what was then TV2. She later became MD of the company responsible for the lotto games Ithuba, Viva and Zama-Zama. In 2001, she joined Tiger Brands and worked her way up to where she is now.
The MediaShop director Harry Herber says: “I seem to have known Brenda forever. And even before we met, she was a marketing legend and her reputation preceded her. I often wonder why people reach the top of their profession. And I think one can take a number of cues from Brenda.
“On the one hand we get sharp, insightful thinking with resultant cutting edge demands. On the other hand, she’s considerate, engaging, polite and thoughtful. The complete package. She doesn’t demand people’s respect – she earns it.”
Khanyi Dhlomo is the glamorous media mogul behind one of the country’s most innovative magazines. Dhlomo – who has an MBA from Harvard University – launched Ndalo Media, which publishes Destiny and Destiny Man, both aimed at the upper end of the black market. Ndalo Media is now also publishing Sawubona, SAA’s inflight magazine.
Dhlomo has always seemed set for success. She began her career as SABC1’s first black newsreader and was only 22 when she became editor of TRUE LOVE, doubling its circulation in her eight years there.
Ndalo Media is part owned by Media24. Financial manager at Media24 magazines, Raj Lalbahadur, says Dhlomo’s publishing house complements Media24’s offerings because “it operates in spaces in which the company does not have a strong presence”.
Says Lalbahadur: “Khanyi is passionate about building a business that does good while doing businesss; hence Ndalo Media’s focus on creating content and brand extensions that empower its target market to move forward and make their aspirations a reality.
“She’s been recognised as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum largely because of her commitment to ensuring her business has a positive effect on people’s lives.”
Jane Raphaely has been a doyenne of the magazine publishing industry for decades, having started out in the local industry as the founding editor of FAIRLADY for Naspers in 1965. This British-born graduate of the London School of Economics (with a BSc in Sociology and Economics in 1953) set up Jane Raphaely and Associates in 1983 to launch COSMOPOLITAN in South Africa. Her company (now called Associated Media Publishing) is the leading independent publisher of women’s media brands in South Africa and today publishes HOUSE AND LEISURE, Good Housekeeping/Goeie Huishouding, marie claire, O THE OPRAH MAGAZINE SA, among others. AMP launched many of these titles, but O magazine was a particular coup because in 2002 she managed to persuade Oprah Winfrey to allow AMP the sole international rights to publish this magazine.
Raphaely consolidated her legendary status last year when she brought out her autobiography, ‘Jane Raphaely Unedited’. She has won numerous awards, including Business Woman of the Year (1986), Media Innovator of the Year (1986) and Star Woman of Our Time (1986) and was the first Women in The Media lifetime achiever in 2003.
Two of Raphaely’s four children are in senior management in AMP: Vanessa Raphaely is editorial director and Julia Raphaely is managing director.
Irna van Zyl was Die Burger’s first female chief sub-editor back in 1985 and then editor of De Kat in 1988. She has had a dynamic career in publishing ever since.
Van Zyl was a co-founder of New Media Publishing (NMP), established in 1998 and went into partnership with Media24 two years later. NMP produces top quality custom magazines for clients like Woolworths and DStv. Titles such as TASTE and VISI consistently win local and international publishing awards. In fact, according to NMP, it has won more awards than any other publisher in South Africa.
Van Zyl is now editorial development director at NMP. When Van Zyl was a finalist in The Women in The Media Awards in 2010, The Media magazine wrote her mentoring and commitment to sharing knowledge with those who need it means that NMP is now more than 75% female, with 44% of the staff coming from a previously disadvantaged background.
She helped to set up Mikateko Media, an enterprise development company. Mikateko now publishes Mango Airlines’ Juice magazine and Transnet’s internal communications magazine, One.
“The Yoda of publishing.” This is how Stuff editor and publisher Toby Shapshack describes Gisele Wertheim Aymes. “She’s way better looking, but no less wise,” he adds.
Wertheim Aymes has worked in – and won awards in – many aspects of the media, including marketing, sales and media strategy for over 20 years. She was publisher of Avusa Magazine titles and GM of Innovation at Avusa (now TMG), where she was a member of the strategy team for The Times, and then head of media at FNB. She then formed a company called Aegle Wellness, which bought Longevity magazine from Avusa in 2010. At the time, the magazine was going into decline. But in 2011 and 2012, it posted increases in circulation. Her company last year bought the rights to publish Stuff magazine.
Shapshack says: “What sets Gisele apart is her clear understanding of how business works and how publishing operates. She doesn’t buy into the delusional sentimentality about print that others in the print media do.”
Publishing giant Deon du Plessis was known as someone who could spot talent. Minette Ferreira was his protégée and as GM of Daily Sun and Sunday Sun provided support for his projects. Since his death in 2012, she has steered Daily Sun, much of the time without an editor. She was recently promoted to general manager of Daily Sun, Sunday Sun, City Press and Sondag. Ferreira was also behind the launch of Daily Sun TV, which aimed to bring the stories published in the tabloid to life on another platform.
Kuper, who has worked closely with Media24 titles over the years, says: “I can’t be enthusiastic enough about Minette. She is the next big thing in media. I think she’s absolutely brilliant. She is multi-faceted. She understands editorial, but she’s recently moved into the business side and is really knocking shape into distribution and a whole lot of other things that need knocking into shape.
“She’s going to go far in Media24 – if they are lucky enough to hold on to her!”
Ferial Haffajee is editor-in-chief of City Press but is a courageous media activist in her own right. As editor of both City Press and the Mail&Guardian, Haffajee has been at the forefront of fighting increasing censorship pressures on the media by the private sector, government and politicians. Under her leadership, these newspapers exposed corruption at the highest levels of power that have changed our political landscape over the past 10 years, according to award-winning investigative journalist Adriaan Basson who worked with her on both newspapers. “Ferial goes where others fear to tread: she doesn’t fear controversy and is a firm believer in the power of debate, even at a painful cost,” says Basson.
Haffajee was appointed the first female editor of Mail&Guardian when she was 36, steering it to larger circulation. In 2009, she took on her current role of repositioning the City Press brand. Kuper describes her as an icon, passionate about her views but compassionate with others. “Ferial can be a tiger and a lamb, a wonderful combination for a person in the media world.”
Mathatha Tsedu, a former editor of City Press, says, “City Press has overtaken Sunday Times as being the most quoted publication in the country, which means that people read it and think it is reliable.”
Sunday Times new editor, Phylicia Oppelt, is also a force to be reckoned with. Although she hasn’t been at the Sunday giant long enough to be judged by that, her past speaks volumes. This 2011 winner of The Woman in The Media Award first became known for her independent political views in her Sunday Times column (between 2000 and 2004) when she was appointed editor of the Daily Dispatch. Under her leadership, this newspaper began publishing hard-hitting investigative journalism. In 2010, she became The Times editor taking this start-up to record sales figures.
Says Tsedu: “The paper continued [in Oppelt’s time] to be a trailblazer, especially online, which is one way in which TMG has tried to monetise its content.” He describes Oppelt as diligent and someone with an eye for detail.
Sue Olswang, who worked with Oppelt at The Times as production editor, says: “Her intelligence, her compassion and her vast knowledge of all that is South African – our joys and our woes – are what make her a hugely influential editor. It was an honour working with her.”
Ads24 CEO Linda Gibson has had a long and varied career in media sales: from the community press, to commercial newspapers, to radio and TV. She joined Ads24, Media24’s digital and newspaper sales arm, in 2008. She was appointed CEO in 2009. Last year, she won a MOST Award for Media Owner Legend of the Year.
At Ads24, she has embraced the digital era.
Weideman says, “Linda is a super sharp businesswoman and one of the leading voices in our country’s ad industry. She was instrumental in positionng Ads24 as a one-stop shop for integrated, innovative advertising solutions for Media24’s newspapers and digital publications. Under her watch, Ads24’s Path to Persuasion research has become an invaluable resource offering brands precise and targeted insights into their consumers. In a converged news space, Linda remains committed to creating an environment that empowers her team to embrace change and deliver excellence at all times.”
Those in the know about the outdoor industry (a very male sector of the media) are glowing in their praise of Continental Outdoor MD for Africa Adelaide McKelvey.
McKelvey began her career at Continental in 1997, when she joined its predecessor company CorpCom as a sales executive. She has since risen in the company, “doing it the right way, growing at her own pace and making a lot of friends along the way”, says Starcom MediaVest managing director Gordon Patterson. “She has a solid foundation of knowledge and it shows.
“Adelaide is an amazing woman. She is a consummate professional with a sharp business mind, and she’s energetic and fun – a fully rounded individual… She has brought a level of professionalism [to the outdoor industry] that’s put Continental on the map as a media leader…
“The outdoor industry is production-oriented, sales-oriented, masculine. It was a real rum-and-Coke business! Not a place for sissies. But Adelaide is the sort of individual who would succeed wherever she was.”
The word ’doyenne’ is thrown around a lot, but it fits Barbara Cooke’s role in South Africa’s marketing research landscape. A Woman in the Media Lifetime Achiever, Cooke reached retirement age in 2002 – only to begin a new chapter in her career. After a long career in advertising, she and a partner set up one of the world’s largest research companies, Target Group Index (TGI), in South Africa. Now supposedly really retired, Cooke still works half days at Applied Media Logic as an analyst. Cooke’s former colleagues, media heavyweights themselves, recall her honesty, energy and enthusiasm for her work.
Kuper says: “Barbara has a formidable intellect and a clear sighted way of looking at issues strategically. She is a consummate researcher, and always devotes her skills to the company that she is working for at the time. She is hugely experienced in the advertising and media fields, and was dedicated to bringing TGI to this country.
“Barbara was very involved in earlier years with the then PMA (Print Media Association) where, together with others from competitive companies at the time, she helped to develop the concept of Media Synergy that is being revealed to have a great deal of traction in current times. She is also a lobbyist of note, bringing a great deal of energy to industry matters she feels strongly about.”
TNS is a global market research group, with a massive global presence. In South Africa, its CEO is Karin Du Chenne. Du Chenne has been the boss since February when she was promoted from her previous position as MD. She became MD in 2006.
Her colleague Neil Higgs, senior advisor and head of innovation for TNS SA, says, “Karin’s rise to CEO so quickly is due to her ability to understand both technical research issues and the strategic and tactical business issues of our clients, and bring them together unusually successfully.
“She also can lead from the front and be a real team player. Her warmth and bubbly personality, along with a strong sense of key human values, means also that she relates exceptionally well to people, both here at TNS and also with clients. She’s a true leader.”
Du Chenne has over 20 years’ experience, having been a consultant to major clients in the FMCG, financial and technology sectors. She joined TNS in 1992 and was appointed to the board in 2000.
Du Chenne is married with two sons. TNS regional CEO Kim McIlwaine says, “Karin has all the drive of the energiser bunny, yet manages to combine that with a deep empathy for her people – both her own family and the TNS family. This overt passion and energy fuels a strong strategic mind and she applies that liberally to her clients too, many of whom treat her as part of their team – the ultimate accolade.”
Jos Kuper herself is deserving of the doyenne tag and many who have worked with her will attest to her warm and generous way of dealing with people. With over 40 years’ experience, she is now MD at Kuper Research. According to Cooke, Kuper stands out for her “wealth of experience in social, media and particularly readership and audience research”.
“[Kuper] has recently been tasked by the industry with leading a team to ‘future proof’ AMPS, RAMS and TAMS – industry surveys that are part of the Saarf suite of products. Her experience encompasses both qualitative and quantitative research, and she has had extensive experience in readership research, particularly readership behaviour,” says Cooke.
Brenda Wortley has nurtured DStv’s research arm DStv-i from its birth and is highly regarded throughout the industry. She has been credited for her work in rolling out DStv-i’s innovative subscriber panel. This is only one aspect of her role as director of strategy and research for DStv.
Says Kuper: “She is one of those very rare people who can pay attention to detail and also stand on the detail and see the big, strategic picture. She is also one of those very rare people who understands the total industry and how it works. She understands the research perspective, the consumer perspective and the corporate perspective.”