CONFESSIONS OF AN AD GIRL | How I became a digital strategist


For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to work in advertising. The movies always make it look so glamourous, and to me it seems like the perfect mix of creativity and business.

When I was in Grade 11, a friend and I made our way to Cape Town (on a bus from Knysna, nogal) to see what advertising was all about. My aunt Cal runs an amazing post production studio called Priest Post Production and shadowing her for a week really set my dream ablaze to work in the "big city" (Joburg eat your heart out). Granted, she is by no means your average agency owner - not only does she not age, ever, she is a genuinely, extraordinarily lovely person. So let's just say my foray into advertising was equal parts shiny and naive.

I commenced by journey at Rhodes University, where I studied a Bachelor of Arts in Photojournalism and German (my parents were too kind to advocate a pragmatic combination). My third year saw me question whether journalism was in fact a road I wanted to go down. The light and fluffy reason? My inherent desire to wear heels and have access to a stationary cupboard MUST mean this is the wrong path. The real reason? My sensitive soul left my heart aching post most interviews / photoshoots at my inability to help action any kind of social or moral justice to the unheard, marginalized or silenced. Which is not to say that journalism is without power (I have enormous respect for media and the invaluable mouthpiece it creates), I quite simply wasn't very good at it. 

So I decided to move to Stellenbosch to study a post graduate diploma in marketing, at the Stellenbosch Graduate School of Business. I not only thoroughly enjoyed the course but almost instantly realised that digital marketing was what excited me most. The discipline's combination of human psychology (consumer centricity) in an ever changing tech landscape still delights me, well into my professional career.

I was lucky enough to land an internship at a then small agency in Muizenberg called Techsys Digital. I started in the project management team but quickly shifted into strategy, thanks to a die-hard love of Powerpoint, Google Analytics and a voracious appetite for reading and analysing marketing trends. After almost three and a half years there, I decided to pursue a long standing dream to apply for a job at Ogilvy.  Needless to say, I was over the moon to get a job at Gloo, the company which became Ogilvy's digital arm. Eighteen tough months followed of late nights, pitching and an ongoing battle with imposter syndrome. But in the back of my mind, the saying "if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room" drove me forward. That and the best girl gang I could ever have asked for - there are some SHOW STOPPING women in digital. And once I had set out to achieve all the things I had hoped for, I was offered to rejoin Techsys as their Head of Strategy.

I now manage strategists in both Joburg and Cape Town and pursue innovation projects in addition to "bread and butter" type strategy. It is a career path that is thrilling on some days and daunting on others, but I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. The industry is booming in South Africa thanks to larger and larger budgets being allocated to digital and the young bright minds who not only bring the ideas to life, but also make the money go further than it would on any other medium. As for me, I'm still not the smartest person in the room, so I know this is the right room for me.

Alll my love,

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