By Charndré Emma Kippie
Educated at the University of Johannesburg and WITS Business School, Katherine Mary Madley is a Board member of MASA who completed a Bcom Marketing degree which only fueled her passion for the Marketing field in South Africa. Today, as Game’s Vice President of Marketing, she is inspired by her purpose of leading smart people and bringing out the best execution in teams in order to win. Katherine Madley has spanned an ambitious and rewarding career of +19 years in blue chip business, 13 of which have been spent in Executive roles.
What got you into the field you’re currently in?
Regarding Marketing, I read about the ‘4 P’s of Marketing’ in my Business Economics textbook when I was in Grade 10, and I knew instantly that Marketing was the way forward. My interest in marketing has been insatiable ever since and I love learning more and more about it (However, I am very selective on who I listen to. Only credible people count, and I avoid the snake oil).
What excites you the most about your role?
I like to grow my people into the best versions of themselves and I like to see a queue of customers waiting patiently early in the morning outside a Game shop on a special day (like a store opening or a big event). I just absolutely love watching them with a leaflet in their hands waiting for our doors to open. The fact that a customer knows our brand, saw our products and adverts and woke up early to come and get them excites me no end, they trust us and I appreciate that so much. I get the same thrill when I watch traffic numbers build online to come into our ecomm shop to get something special there. I take the fact that people trust the brand I look after very seriously and it’s an honour to be here.
How is your business enhancing the South African economy?
The four pillars of economics are land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship, and Game touches all four every day. We have hundreds of shops and invest in South Africa, as well as the rest of Africa. We attracted Foreign Direct investment with Walmart, who is the major shareholder in our parent company Massmart. We also proudly partner with local suppliers, both small and large, who help us streamline our operations and services. So from a small maker of clothes in South Africa to a huge multinational, we are in every layer of economy building and proudly so.
Do you think your field is diverse in terms of gender equality?
In the CMO side and VP Marketing side, I do see gender diversity in South Africa and we are slowly getting better at overall diversity. The advertising agency side needs attention though, especially for more female leaders. My agency partners are well diversified, but I don’t see it in other agencies.
What are your top 3 tips for ensuring the success of women in your field?
- Marry the right person – honestly this is the best career decision you can make. If you are partners who support each other’s goals and agree on the main things, the sky’s the limit.
- Choose a boss over the scope of work and/or company every time. A great boss is gold and will grow you to be the best version of yourself.
- Learn to negotiate properly and respectfully. Know more than the facts, do more than is expected and know your worth.
What have been some major obstacles in your career, as a woman, and how did you overcome them?
I have worked for one or two horrible bosses in my career. If you find yourself in that situation, whatever you do – don’t leave until you find a better boss in or out of your organisation and you have secured a job with them. Walking out is not the answer, don’t fall off the radar. Be respectful and do your job above and beyond but don’t tolerate the horrible things, make plans to move and surround yourself with family and friends that are emotionally reliable to help you through. Horrible bosses are short term, your reputation, well-being, self respect and career is long term – so protect it.
What are your goals for the future?
I have a small list of annual personal and professional goals that I tend to on a daily basis and I give myself strict reviews on often. I also have a select group of close friends that hold up the mirror to me which I appreciate, as do my own family which I am very close to – they point out my strengths and weaknesses and have my best interests at heart. One of my key goals is to nurture my relationships – that’s very important and meaningful and I am very blessed to have such good ones, iron sharpening iron.
What advice do you have for young women entrepreneurs who aspire to work in your field?
I am having the time of my life in marketing and retail, I hope you will too. If you like relationships with people this is the world for you. Just keep learning from credible, educated and experienced institutions and people and form your own views too, your gut also develops in this industry, trust it. Do more than is expected every day and surround yourself with winners. Iron sharpens iron and when you are leader one day, please throw the rope down and help as many up as you can.
I am here today because of Faith, Hard work and relationships with independent magnificent diverse people. I have also been extremely blessed beyond measure by mentors that have lifted me up along the way, even when I didn’t deserve it they stopped and helped me. Most of them are still in my life today and are still giving me a piggy back up the hill. Apart from my own family who have clapped and cheered all the way other major mentors in my life, the late Jenny Needham, David and Alban Atkinson from Ince; Edward Kieswetter who is now at SARS; Zelda Roscherr from RMB ( Mrs Incredible); Louis Jordaan from RMB; Llewellyn Walters, Andre Steyn, Brian Leroni and Andrew Stein from Massmart; and lastly John Anderson and Marinda Dippenaar who are the cleverest and kindest people I know.
I never get a chance to thank them publicly so here it is, I am taking it. There are one or two more, but they are deliberately shy and don’t like being called out. You know who you are, so thank you.
*For more, check out our bumper 16th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here.
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