Sponsorship Specialist: Youth Sport and Football at First National Bank (FNB South Africa)
Best pitch presenter you’ve ever seen:
While I wouldn’t describe him as a pitch presenter, John Comitis, who is football royalty in South Africa, has an incredible ability to connect with people, from CEOs to ordinary fans. He can sell anything and I’ve learnt an enormous amount just watching him present his ideas.
Best sports marketing campaign (that wasn’t yours):
But I have to give credit to SA Rugby with all their Springbok campaigns. They managed to turn a brand that had a deep association with Apartheid and was seen in a negative light by most South Africans into a beacon of hope for everyone, not just in the country but on the continent. “Stronger Together” has been instrumental in uniting the country and making space for people of colour to adopt the sporting code as their own. Rugby is now an experience that includes Zulu impis, Cape minstrels and iGwijo. The latter being African songs that celebrate cultural event. It is what black South Africans sing to celebrate, to show unity and to remind us of the power within us. Back in the 90s, Jungle Oats had a campaign called “Breakfast of Champions”. Nobody in this country will ever forget the faces of the young athletes they used in that campaign. Iconic!
Best agency (that isn’t yours):
I love the work that Levergy does. I think they have an amazing understanding of fan culture and what really matters to the fan. The work they did during the pandemic was fantastic, shifting seamlessly from live activations to digital ones.
Best young industry talent:
I am surrounded by talented people and unsung heroes so this is a tough one! But I am an all-rounder so I admire that in others. Given this, I’d say Julian Bailey of Cape Town City FC. He heads up both marketing and media for the club, is my right-hand guy there and I’m constantly in awe of his ability to do whatever needs to be done. I’ve seen him manage tough press conferences and VIP hospitality one minute and then pick up training gear off the field the next. He is also an amazing community manager, affectionately known as Admin Wodumo. (Wodomu is isiZulu for joy).His network is pretty impressive. He must be one of the most connected individuals in SA sports and I’m constantly learning about the culture from him.
Best sporting event attended:
Cape Town Sevens – every year
What South African sports events may lack in slickness and technology, it makes up for with heart. All South African sporting events have what we call “Gees” – spirit, heart, excitement, joy in the simple things. Cape Town Sevens manages to create an incredible atmosphere each year with the best local entertainment and the absolute best crowds.
Best sporting event on TV:
I’m a story-lover. And the FIFA Women’s World was full of them. I’m a passionate advocate for women in sports and this tournament was a testament to the struggles, the trials, the overcoming of them and the thriving of female athletes. I’m also incredibly proud of how well our African teams did and the way they stole hearts across the world.
Best brand ambassador:
Thembi Kgatlana for Nike – She has defined excellence in women’s football in every possible way. On field she is an incredible striker, whose prowess was seen in the recent Women’s World Cup. Off the field, she is committed to developing underprivileged communities.
Siya Kolisi for nearly everyone, including FNB – Its no surprise that Siya is a popular ambassador. He is the epitome of what we want all our sports people to be. Consistently great athlete with a heart of gold and a reputation so clean you could eat off it.
Best industry event or conference:
South Africa is light on sporting conferences, which is a shame.
GSport4Girls is a news platform that shares stories about women in sport. Not just on the athletes, but media, sponsorship, PR, etc. I’ve never been to their Annual Awards event, but I’m hoping to score a ticket one day and experience being around the best women in the sports industry.
Best film containing a scene depicting the sports business:
Invictus always gives me goosebumps, reliving the Springbok World Cup victory in 1995. I was in junior high school at the time and Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar lifting the trophy is a moment that affected me profoundly.
And while its not a movie, Ted Lasso is incredible and can happily live in my head, rent-free!
Best book recommendation:
Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet is my life Bible, in a sense. It is packed with wisdom, moderate thinking, beautiful analogies and guidance on every part of your life. “Work is love made visible” has been my career-long mantra and is the reason you would struggle to find many people more passionate than I am about what I do.
Best bar or pub:
A Rastafari restaurant/bar in the middle of Aburi Gardens in Ghana. The owner, Mazola, is such a vibe and the pineapple juice is unmatched. I would’ve happily sat there for days.
Also a bar on a small beach in Paraty, Brazil, where I seriously considered giving it all up to be a cocktail
The restaurant at Jetwing Sea in Negombo, Sri Lanka. Its everything you want Sri Lankan food to be, paired with an incredible ocean view, sea breeze and the friendliest staff. The Fish Curry is delicious on its own but paired with 7 different sides, its out of this world.
This one is tied with an unnamed restaurant in Tehran, Iran where I ate amazing boiled sheep head and organ kebabs. It was much tastier than it sounds, I promise!
Best holiday resort:
I’m not a resort-person, but I’m a passionate traveller. My favourite holiday (not travel) destinations have been Brazil, Ghana, Sri Lanka and the south coast of Turkey. Lots to do, wonderful people and amazing weather.
Best box set:
The Office US!
Best influence on your career:
As someone who was never an athlete (a rarity in this industry), my point of view has always been more fan-centric. So the fans have influenced me more than anything and they are always at the heart of what I do. This includes my father who was the ultimate sports fan. He passed this love to me and even though he was an All Black supporter (boo) and I am a Springbok super-fan, I learned so much from him and sport was our thing.
Best dinner companions (min 4, max 6):
Morgan Freeman – We share many common interests
Basetsana Kumalo – She epitomises the warmth, strength and smarts of African women
Muhammad Ali – Because he’s Muhammad Ali!
Bob Marley – My favourite music artist of all time
Thabo Mbeki – I’d love to pick his brain on Africa
My current manager, Brad Guymer, for balance, since he is one of the most fun people I’ve ever met.
Best job in the sports biz:
For me its about purpose and stories. I’d love to move into the Content space officially one day and use the platform to tell the incredible African sporting stories I’ve seen over the years. T&W are the leaders in this in South Africa. Hint, hint, T&W!
Best professional regret:
I’ve worked on rights holder side and sponsor side, and while I’ve worked with dozens of agencies in my career, I’ve never worked for one. As someone who likes to get her hands dirty, I imagine agency life builds incredible resilience and networks and you aren’t tied down by as much red tape.
Best skill you most covet:
Networking – I’m a people’s person for sure but I’ve never known how to translate that into career success. (Unfortunately) I just have to let my work speak for me.
Best trait you admire in others:
Balance – Those people who wake up early, get through everything they need to in a day, and still have the time and energy for a social life. Right now, my friends and family have to join me at sports events to see me!
Best overrated virtue:
Honesty – Hear me out. Honesty without kindness is nothing.
To be someone who enables greatness in others. To work abroad and travel extensively. And to have an F1 Paddock Pass.