Celebrating female leaders: Stories from the front lines of business and media

Celebrating female leaders

During Women’s Month, we can’t think of anything more fitting than celebrating female leaders – the women we share our space with. Hustle Media is a testament to female entrepreneurship, a women-owned and led enterprise.

Over our seven-year journey, we’ve had the privilege of collaborating with remarkable women as clients and peers from other marketing agencies with whom we’ve forged strategic alliances.

There have been many. Here are three lights that shine bright in our world that we would like to share with you. Their wisdom and their quirks!

Amori van Zyl

Business development director
Mustard Seed Relationship Marketing

Amori leads with compassion and heart, but don’t let that deceive you – she is a legendary new business closer. With her gentle approach towards her suppliers, we’d probably jump off a bridge backwards if she asked us to.

What advice would you give to young women aspiring to make their mark in the media world?

Tackle every task with passion and enthusiasm, no matter how big or small. You’ll not only learn a great deal but will also get noticed and move up the ranks quickly. Enthusiasm and initiative are qualities that people greatly appreciate in team members. Be kind to your colleagues, share a laugh, or join in one; shared laughter is memorable.

How do you balance your personal and professional lives, especially in such a demanding industry?

You can’t do everything simultaneously. Fully focus on whatever is in front of you, whether work or family. Trying to juggle both simultaneously can mean you won’t excel in either. Set clear boundaries and stick to them. Sometimes, you might need to rise early to work while the kids are still asleep. While it shouldn’t become a regular occurrence, it can make you feel more prepared and relaxed as you start your day. Resist the urge to answer that work call after 6 pm when it’s family time. Be truly present in the moment.

Looking back at your journey so far, what is one piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?

Don’t hesitate to take risks; things often have a way of working out. You’re in charge of your destiny, so dream big, act on those dreams, and push forward. Continually keep in touch with friends and acquaintances you meet along the way; they form the foundation of your support network. In the business world, relationships are invaluable.

Now for something a little lighter! What is the most embarrassing or funniest thing that has ever happened to you during a client meeting?

During the Covid era, I was in a crucial Teams meeting when, suddenly, a mud-splattered naked figure appeared on my screen. My 6-year-old had decided to apply ‘war paint’ and dance around in the background, completely nude! While it brought a moment of levity and laughter to the meeting, I was mortified.

Mahlape Nyakane

Founder and chief skills officer
The Skills Mine

Mahlape is a pocket-sized powerhouse brimming with passion for people, skills development, and nurturing professionals’ careers. She’s driven by a purpose so infectious it’s impossible not to catch her enthusiasm.

What advice would you give to young women aspiring to take the leap into entrepreneurship?

My advice is simple: Just start! Register the company, begin small, and dedicate daily time to your business. Don’t fret over perfection at the outset; progress comes through refinement. Every day, invest effort into enhancing your venture. Remember, success is a journey of continuous improvement. Starting a business might seem daunting, but many successful entrepreneurs begin with modest steps. Allow yourself to learn along the way, and don’t hesitate to seek guidance from mentors or peers. Believe in your vision and capabilities.

How do you balance your personal and professional lives, especially in such a demanding industry?

Initially, I struggled with feeling constantly ‘on’, but now I’ve embraced setting boundaries. I unapologetically disconnect from work in the later evenings and on weekends, allowing me to recharge and focus on being a sister, partner, friend, and other roles beyond my profession. This intentional (though not always easy) separation between work and personal life has proven instrumental in preserving my well-being and sustaining my enthusiasm for both realms. I always aim to achieve a holistic and multidimensional life.

Looking back at your journey so far, what is one piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?

I’d advise my younger self to embrace authenticity and resist the urge to dim my light to conform or seek acceptance. True growth comes from staying true to oneself, not blending in. Striving for success requires embracing individuality and aiming for greatness unapologetically.

Now for something a little lighter! What is the most embarrassing or funniest thing that has ever happened to you during a client meeting?

Early in my recruitment career, I had a client meeting with a big corporate. Armed with what I thought was a fantastic business profile, I unwittingly presented it with a few spelling errors and struggled with some recruitment jargon. Adding to the awkwardness, I completely butchered the talent manager’s name. With remarkable patience, he pointed out the errors and guided me in enhancing my approach to stand out authentically rather than relying on generic content. This was a valuable lesson, reminding me to invest time in refining my offerings and paying meticulous attention to detail when engaging with clients.

Tanja Gerber

Strategic marketing director
Mustard Seed Relationship Marketing

We have collaborated on numerous campaigns with Tanja, and her continuous stream of creative and innovative solutions for clients never ceases to amaze us and razor-sharp wit. We personally know her dog mentioned below, Daisy. We adore you, Daisy, but we want the entire world to know that you are a little bit too ‘hood’ for such a small creature.

What advice would you give to young women aspiring to make their mark in the media world?

Discover your passion and identify your niche. Then, delve into researching, reading, and learning everything you can about your field of interest. Embrace creative thinking, tackle industry challenges with innovative solutions, remain vigilant for opportunities, and occasionally venture off the beaten track. Moreover, as you progress, generously share your knowledge and help others embark on their journey alongside you.

How do you balance your personal and professional lives, especially in such a demanding industry?

Caffeine and humour aside, is there truly a formula for harmonizing personal and professional spheres in such a demanding industry? Engaging in a captivating and personally rewarding career often blurs the boundaries between personal and professional life. However, I am equally fervent about safeguarding my leisure time. I ensure it’s spent wholeheartedly engaging with my family, and, of course, I rarely skip my early morning coffee walks with my dog.

Reflecting on your journey thus far, what’s one piece of advice you’d offer your younger self?

To my enthusiastic and wide-eyed younger self, I’d share my most significant lesson: the conventional path isn’t the sole route to success. Life’s trajectory need not be linear. Each lesson learned, choice made, and experience gained shapes your journey’s subsequent stages. Pay heed to these stepping stones along the way.

Now, for something a touch lighter! What’s the most embarrassing or funniest incident you’ve experienced during a client meeting?

Not involving me directly, but in a recent online meeting, a client’s microphone failed to mute, resulting in a brief yet vivid conversation that left all participants in stunned silence. As the meeting host, I should have promptly resumed to salvage the situation. However, plagued by second-hand embarrassment, I remained awkwardly silent for just a bit too long!

We hope you enjoyed the read as much as we enjoyed writing it.


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