‘Be prepared to take a sharp left when there’s a big pothole in the road’. Charlene Rolls is editorial director of YOU and DRUM magazines, two of the biggest consumer magazine titles in South Africa.
I am 34 years old and so far in my career… I’ve been a journalist, a rewriter, an associate publisher, a deputy editor, an editor, a champion of awesome people and a shoulder to cry on.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned? You’ll never know everything; always be kind to others; really listen to what people (no matter who they are) are saying to you – and also what they’re not saying; don’t be scared to ask questions; don’t be afraid to fail; and always be prepared to take a sharp left when there’s a big pothole in the road.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? I was a cashier at a large fashion retailer while I was still studying at UCT. It taught me a lot about people but I’m glad I’m a journalist now.
The quality I most respect in people is…Honesty.
My pet hate is… Dishonesty and unfairness are pretty equal in the get-my-back-up stakes.
What scares you most? Not being able to do everything I want to do.
My best qualities are… My ability to juggle many things at once. Someone once told me I have a neat, organised brain – I can easily absorb and process large amounts of info and make sense of it quickly. I can also rapidly switch between strategic bigger-picture thinking and focusing on finer operational details.
My worst qualities are… Impatience. I move/work/think fast and I sometimes wish everyone would move as quickly as I do. I can also easily spot when a plan isn’t going to work and sometimes wish I could just be blunt about it – but I know that’s not a great approach in the workplace. I’m working on it!
My personal motto is… I don’t have one. Life is too interesting to stick to just one thing – who knows how I’ll feel today vs. tomorrow or three weeks from now?
A perfect day would be… Spending time with the people I love.
If I could have dinner with someone living or dead it would be… Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Caitlin Moran – if you haven’t read Tina’s Bossypants, Amy’s Yes Please and Caitlin’s How To Be A Woman, get them now.
The gadget you couldn’t live without and why… I hate talking on my cellphone so I’d have to say my iPad mini. I can read mags and books, watch shows and movies and be online without having to zoom in on anything as I sometimes do with my phone. Almost all the apps I use (just a handful) are available on iPad. I can also work on my iPad because I have a great case with a built-in keyboard – much easier than lugging around a laptop.
My addiction is… Reading all kinds of things – I love magazines, books and long-form articles online. Give me a good story and I’m hooked.
My death row meal would be… Do I have to choose?! My mom’s steak pie and her delicious milk tart and my husband’s yum pancakes. And a bottle of good bubbly.
So far 2017 has been… A wild ride! Becoming editorial director of YOU and DRUM has meant there’s never been a dull moment. It’s been great fun though and I’m excited about what the rest of the year will bring.
This story was first published in the May 2017 issue of The Media magazine.