Nontokozo Madonsela shares her journey to anchoring her position in the world of marketing in South Africa.
She went from outgrowing studying BCom Accounting as a student at UKZN, to embracing her calling into the world of marketing. This gave rise to the woman we now know as the passionate guru of marketing. Nontokozo Madonsela is a valiant force to be reckoned with and is a living example that marketers must avoid doing the obvious in today’s cluttered world of communication. For Madonsela average won’t do. Period. She is a Kwa-Zulu Natal born travel junkie who proudly hails from the small town of Port Shepstone. She was driven by the urge to prove to herself that footprints in the sands of time are not made by sitting down. Her bursting curiosity and hunger for more led her into the bright lights of the city of Johannesburg. “The first two things that stood out for me when I landed in Joburg were the summer storms as well as the beautiful Jacaranda trees,” she recalls.
Madonsela gathered her blackbelt in marketing from working at several major companies in South Africa, namely: Standard Bank, British American Tobacco, Coca-Cola, South African Breweries as well as Hollard. Her tenacious drive recently led to her taking up the executive role of Group Chief Marketing Officer at South Africa’s fourth largest insurance group, Momentum Metropolitan Holdings (MMH). Madonsela’s list of accolades include the Avance Media’s Most Influential Young South African Business Leader award. She has contributed significantly to influencing the perception of retail banking in South Africa by improving the Customer Satisfaction Index by 4.4% through the Standard Bank What’s Your Next? campaign.
She developed and drove a new marketing strategy for Momentum Metropolitan Holdings, leading to the successful renaming and repositioning of the group. This resulted in the two brands regaining relevance in the market for the first time since the 2010 merger. All of that while judging the AdFocus 2019 awards and participating in The Small Big Business Show where she would offer marketing advice to small/medium businesses.
She has spearheaded major campaigns with each acting as the drop of ink that made a million think. The most recent campaign being the famed Momentum Women’s Month campaigns, No Apology For My Success as well as She Owns Her Success. Both campaigns were centred around encouraging women to take up more space, recognising their strengths and unabashedly celebrating their achievements. She admits that the Women’s Month campaigns were the most challenging campaigns to execute due to the magnitude of their reach, “This was my first big campaign with such depth. It featured so many layers that addressed the unequal gaps for women like me. The biggest reason for my passion behind these projects was because they aligned perfectly with what Momentum cares about, enabling success,” she says.
Although she is celebrating two decades of conquering the ever-evolving field of marketing, Madonsela admits that it hasn’t all been smooth sailing as she had many mistakes to learn from. “There had been so many career lows that were caused by not trusting my gut. I had instances where I would have to face the wrath of leadership for not managing budgets tightly. For some time, I struggled to navigate corporate politics with finesse,” says Madonsela.
She managed to overcome these by surrounding herself with incredible mentors and thinking partners who continue to help create a different perspective on her lows.
If there’s anything that involves consumer relations, it will certainly evolve as much as humans do. Nontokozo has observed that marketing has grown from just being a consumer-oriented sector to playing a pivotal role in the overall running of the company, “We are invited to HR and Operations discussions now because a brand is connected to everything that a business does. We’re the scientists of an organisation because not only are our financial resources limited, but the production timelines have shrunk – yet we still deliver good content and we have to do it fast,” says Madonsela.
She also adds that there are certain avoidable mistakes that marketers should combat in order to ensure the growth of the sector’s importance, “Avoid using poor insights and superficial human truths. These result in poor campaign performances,” she advises.
We live in a world where boardrooms are only recently starting to see more women take up executive chairs and, when asked what advice she had for women who want to take up these positions, Madonsela simply says: “Follow your heart. Passion is a huge part of what drives me and without passion, one can limit the extent of the impact that one can make”.
In her downtime, you can find this marketing firebrand whipping up delicious salads and colourful sangrias to prove that she too is a mere mortal like the rest of us.