‘The ice cream says it’ll be okay, so I’ll go with that’”: Vanessa Raphaely is content director at Associated Media Publishing (AMP). The Media asked her 20 questions.
What drew you to the media? I was born exactly as my mother Jane Raphaely’s first magazine, FAIRLADY, hit the streets for the first time and as a result I’m not sure I ever had any say in what my career would be. I suspect I’m the product of a breeding programme! On a tough day, I dream of managing a parking garage, or a storage facility… I imagine those jobs would be less hassle than an industry undergoing massive transformation and I know they have massive margins.
Do you have any hidden talents? I’d have to say… no. Unless you call robust common sense and toughness hidden talents? I certainly think they’re under-rated. I suspect there’s still a perception that women employed in the kind of media in which my sister Julia (MD of our company) and I are, tend to be more fluffy, frivolous and glamorous than we are. I’d say that we are not the stereotype.
What superpower would you like to possess? I’d like to be the good fairy at the christening, with an ability to wave a magic wand and ‘make it all alright’.
What is your best characteristic and your biggest flaw? I think I have a brain that works very creatively. I see things other people don’t. I am awash with flaws.
If you weren’t in the media, what would you be doing? I would be chief innovation officer somewhere, but as a consultant. I have children whom I quite like. I want to see more of them. I need freedom and stimulation, travel, running on the mountain, walking on Keurbooms beach. I don’t love meetings, people- or project-management, or badly ventilated office spaces.
What moment do you regard as career-defining? The point when I realised that it was time to do everything I had always done one way for my entire very rewarding career, completely differently. At AMP, we don’t want to be saddlemakers when people are driving cars.
What have you learnt the hard way? That thinking or saying “I told you so” doesn’t help anything. A creative, off-centre thinker has to find a way, when they’re not being heard, to show, not tell.
What is the best and worst advice you have ever been given? My father said, “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden” whenever I whined about how tough work was. Julia and I have always been in it through the hard times. We look for a way out, not the easy way out. Bad advice? “Come on, Vanessa, another mojito won’t hurt.” I’m a cheap date and terrible company after two glasses of anything alcoholic.
Whom do you admire most? My husband.
What quote best describes the way you see the world? “The ice cream says it’ll be okay, so I’ll go with that.” It’s from a cartoon by Marc Johns that’s on my wall.
What is your favourite holiday destination? Keurbooms beach… and the business class lounge of any airport, going anywhere. Skiing with my kids down a mountain.
What book do you wish you had written? Anything by Elmore Leonard (I can’t write for toffee, though, and love good literature too much to produce something bad, so I’ll probably never write a book).
If you had a tattoo, what would it be of? I have a love/hate relationship with tattoos. I’d never have one myself. The best ones are beautiful, but mostly they’re just conformist. And ill-advised.
What are you addicted to? Second helpings. My iPad.
What are you most afraid of? Being old, infirm and not loved by my children.
What do you regret? Not much. I’ve had a totally privileged, lucky, blessed life. I always regret that second mojito, though.
What cheers you up the most? My husband: he won’t stand for ingratitude. Finding a solution to a problem. A run on Table Mountain Road. Haute Cabrière with the girlfriends. My two stupid but affectionate dogs… and, because I am a ‘Jewish Smother’, the sight of my kids getting off the bus after their three weeks of camp at the end of the year.
Did you ever feel that you were in your mother’s shadow? We’re very different, as anyone who knows us will tell you. I can honestly say no. I left South Africa when I was very young and forged my own career overseas before I returned. I do think there is a bit of a perception that Julia and I were born lucky, and that’s right. You can’t be luckier, as a woman, than to have great female role models.
What is the future of magazines? Print will be one of the (currently) four platforms any successful media house will publish on.
What are your goals? Freedom and stimulation. A good night’s sleep. Children who love me.
This story was first published in the June 2014 issue of The Media magazine.
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