Who is making their name in media agencies across the country? Nikki Temkin tracked down some young, talented guns to understand why they excel and what makes them tick.
Since completing her BA Marketing Communications degree and BA Honours in Strategic Communication, Yamkela Nkanzela has found her perfect niche as a junior channel strategist at PHD JHB. “The job involves media, marketing and communication. I truly love strategy and debating why things work or don’t work,” she explains.
PHD MD Wayne Bishop often hires interns upon the recommendation of lecturers at UJ. “Yamkela was the best intern we’ve ever had and we employed her about a week after she started,” he says. So confident was Nkanzela that barely two weeks into her new job, she was thrust into a Ferrero Rocher pitch and assisting with research into other brands. “Even in massive pitches to clients, she presents confidently,” says Bishop. Nkanzela already mostly runs the CNA account independently. “Clients love her energy, fast turnaround and her fresh insight – it’s simply an asset having her in the room,” says Bishop, “she ticks all the boxes as a strategist.”
For Nkanzela, the challenge of deliberating how to give the client what they want is what makes her excited. She relishes the opportunity to work on a heritage brand and assist them in repositioning and reinventing themselves within the market. “It’s an evolutionary phase for CNA right now – I enjoy putting the pieces together, writing up arguments…the drama behind it,” she affirms. Describing herself as a “Curious person who questions things and doesn’t just accept the norm as it is”, Nkanzela offers an innovative perspective – someone who won’t just go with the traditional because that’s always been the way of doing things.
“I’ve learnt to take initiative but not in a cocky manner. Flexibility is key in this job. The client has a wealth of knowledge so I want to marry that with my modern outlook and find a way to meet. I always consider people as humans not just media owners or clients.”
Known for her incredible enthusiasm, Nkanzela always gives her all, whether for work or for play – she and Bishop won the media agency dance competition at the Spark Media launch. “She’s surpassed all my hopes and is someone to definitely watch,” concludes Bishop.
Outcome focused. Extraverted. Purposeful. These are some of the adjectives used to describe strategic director, Ilsa Gräbe. At a tender age she’s already making a conspicuous mark in the media agency world. “Media is such a dynamic industry and is moving at such a rapid rate,” says Gräbe about what attracts her to the industry.
After completing a BA Integrated Marketing Communications degree at AAA with a specialisation in media management (she was awarded the Top Student in Media Management in 2006), she started out as an intern and then a media analyst for Starcom MediaVest and is now at Carat. CEO of Carat SA, Celia Collins says, “Ilsa has been in the industry for about 10 years and is an absolute bundle of positive energy.” Collins pinpoints one of Gräbe’s strengths as being driven to seek out new ways of working and thinking from a holistic perspective. “She’s at the forefront of what’s happening and does all the training for us within our agency. Our clients simply adore her,” explains Collins.
For Gräbe, the thrill is in teamwork, constantly learning and in being able to engage and collaborate with many different stakeholders, from clients and suppliers to creative agencies. “My favourite part is understanding the targeted consumers and their motivations as well as meeting the different people I deal with on a daily basis.” Her myriad of clients have included Mastercard, Pampers, Nescafé, Cadbury, Airlink and Old Mutual. Gräbe won an Internationalist Media Innovation Award for Dunhill fragrances.
“She’s always full of knowledge and keen to impart it to clients,” adds Collins. Gräbe already gives back to her industry in a multitude of ways as an AMASA committee member (she was the youngest judge for the RGA awards in 2010) and as a lecturer and co-ordinator for AAA’s media course. It’s clear that Gräbe has a knack, too, for teaching and training and her vivacious personality serves her well in capturing the attention of her willing students. “In ten years time, I hope to be just as passionate about the industry as I am now and to be able to continue to give back – for instance in upskilling of the industry,” Gräbe explains, “It’s easy when you love what you do.”
It’s plain while chatting to her that media strategist Lerato Tsotetsi simply loves what she does. A media strategist for Carat, she works across different categories for clients such as Microsoft and Old Mutual as well as constantly pitching for new business. It was never her intention to work within the media, but as a self-described “People’s person” with analytical abilities, her passion and talent was spotted during her marketing communication studies.
In her third year she was chosen as one out of only five people at AAA to be part of the AMASA Learnership Programme. She also won the trophy for the AMASA Top Media Management Student in 2013. She says, “Media is fun but there’s a lot of thinking and rationale behind it. I can be myself and do all the things I’m good at including writing and speaking.”
For Tsotetsi, an interesting part of what she does is giving input into her client’s business objectives and helping them to define what they are. “I’m always learning. We have such incredible tools and market insights at our disposal. It’s all about studying people to create strategy. We have to tap into how to resonate with them.” Tsotetsi was one of the top four students for AAA’s Digital Media Marketing course in 2015. She’s a believer in hybrid strategy and an integrated approach,
“There’s no greater feeling than seeing a campaign go live,” she explains. Carat CEO Celia Collins says, “Lerato is just full of joy and endless energy and always looking for the next thing to learn. Nothing is too much for her. She takes clients head-on and wants to get the best out of them. I predict that within 6 years, she’ll be at the top of our industry.”
Snapped up fresh out of varsity and plunged into the digital media world, Matteo Zambetti, social media manager at SMG Digital, is at the forefront of investigating new social platforms, how consumers use them and in adopting new social media tactics with that knowledge. He’s utilising that insight to drive social media strategies.
“His biggest skill set and advantage lies in his understanding and passion for social media,” explains Steven Waidelich, head of SMG Digital. Zambetti found career direction after completing an online Digital Marketing course through Quirk Education (part of the University of Stellenbosch Business School) in 2013 and realised that he had a knack for it. Since last year, he’s been busily keeping up with what he describes as “The constantly changing tools available to us and updating the tactics for our clients.”
A large part of Zambetti’s job is researching and making sure that he’s knowledgeable about the latest media news and trends. “There’s a lot of learning and relearning,” he says. He’s been heading up new ad innovations and placements on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Linked In; testing to identify what works and making recommendations to SMG’s blue chip clients.
“He understands data trends and analytics,” says Waidelich. For Zambetti the fun part is in coming up with new and clever ways to reach people and using social media tools to drive business goals. “Advertising is so much more accessible now and it’s a lot easier to reach more people and with less cost. In finding ways to target and reach a certain person with a certain profile, there’s a lot less guesswork involved than ever before. We do it by using information that people have provided on social media platforms,” he explains.
In the future, Zambetti sees himself in more of a consulting and strategic role but right now, in the social media space, with his unique and sought- after skills, Zambetti is certainly standing out.
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