As chairperson of the Ogilvy Group, Nunu Ntshingila is one of the highest ranking women in advertising in the country.
Nunu Ntshingila is the only African representative among 30 international advertising and marketing executives on the Ogilvy worldwide board, having worked her way up from being a trainee acount manager.
She’s just returned from a board meeting in China, where one of the topics was Ogilvy & Mather South Africa’s win of five Cannes Lions at the International Festival of Creativity – including a much sought-after Gold Lion.
What is the secret of your success as a woman working in male-dominated fields?
To stay true to who you are, whether you are a man or woman. I believe people must bring their strengths to the job and be honest in dealing with their shortcomings and building on them.
Your greatest achievement?
My appointment to the Ogilvy & Mather worldwide board as the representative from Africa was more important than any of the awards I’ve received. It is significant because it highlights the important role our country plays globally.
Your most difficult business decision?
Those that could fundamentally change people’s lives are the hardest ones to make.
What is the biggest challenge Ogilvy faces in the developing pan-African communications network?
Africa is not a homogeneous continent. It’s an exciting space in which to operate. Importantly, communication needs to consider the cultural nuances in each country for it to be effective. At brand level, the single greatest challenge is to create big pan-African brands that resonate in every market.
What still gives you a thrill in your work?
Brands and branding will always have a special place in my heart. I also enjoy being part of creating new paradigms, of creating the future.
Your mentors or business greats?
In South Africa, someone I feel an enormous amount of gratitude towards is Wendy Luhabe. She has been phenomenally supportive of me over the years. My greatest mentor is Ogilvy chairman emeritus and CEO, Shelly Lazarus. She has the marvellous ability to drive business with both compassion and excellence.
3 Core principles I live by
1. Be fearless. Learn to overcome your fears. Success is sometimes more about the fears we have conquered and less about the audacious goals we set ourselves.
2. Be compassionate.
3. If in doubt, do what your instinct tells you is the right thing.
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