By Charndré Emma Kippie
Lisa Currey, Managing Director of Hamiltons Advertising, is committed to playing an active role in all aspects of the business, both on the creative and client side, and of course on the ground in the new space with her “Hamfam”. Cultivating a great team has been the most important element, for Lisa Currey, in her journey and within the success of Hamiltons.
A full-service advertising agency, Hamiltons Advertising, is celebrating its 25th year of business this year. The Cape Town-based agency has grown from strength to strength from its humble beginnings as a design studio in the centre of Cape Town’s bustling CBD – establishing itself as a fully integrated marketing agency, specialising in the retail sector. Lisa Currey expresses that she couldn’t be more prouder of all the milestones she’s achieved thus far.
What are your main career objectives? How do you hope to make a difference?
As an owner-run and owner-operated business, my role as MD is very much a hands-on approach and my objectives are not only to guide and grow the business but also to guide and grow the people who make up the business – the “Hamfam”. We are a service industry so it’s all about the people and their talent.
Our company’s purpose is to ‘Cultivate people and create Success’. I hope I have already made a difference in many people’s lives by allowing them growth opportunities – we have many in the agency who have been part of the family for over 20 years, some started as receptionists and now head business units. My personal objective is to leave a legacy that one day my son will be proud to be part of, and of course to grow my clients, their brands and their market share.
Please could you tell us a bit about your background.
It’s a long story, my dream of being a vet was crushed as my maths was not good enough, my family emigrated from Northern Ireland to South Africa in 1981 and after a no-major achievement stint in High School, I graduated in graphic design and worked for 9 years at an agency in Cape Town. Then I really did apply myself. I worked hard, played hard and even studied after hours to go from graphic design to art direction to an IMM in marketing. I studied and worked and grew myself. I wanted more, I wanted to realise my dream and surround myself with like-minded people. I started Hamiltons on a wing and a prayer, and it turned out that for the first few years I was on my knees a lot – it was a good grounding and a great foundation.
We had some very successful international clients and thrived for a while. Then the carpet was pulled out from under us when the clients exited the country. I looked closer to home and came across a family business called Fruit and Veg City. How that changed the course of my life and theirs. From 5 stores to over 120 stores later, my team has grown this little David in the world of Goliaths into one of the most loved and respected fresh produce retailers in the country. Freshstop at Caltex has been another brand born from infancy in the Hamfam stable.
What excites you the most about the work that you do?
The feeling of success in any form or fashion excites me. Leaving a meeting where you know you put your all into it, briefing the team on a brainstorm where we know we could change the life of a brand with our output, building relations with our clients so they feel like family and we truly care about their business and, most of all, being the “Mum” and business owner that is successful in her own right and contributes to over 40 families – largely thanks to the individuals that work for the “Hamfam” and love what they do.
In your opinion, how can businesses work towards making their business culture more inclusive of women, in SA?
We happen to be an agency that is 80% female. I think possibly I do this already subconsciously, but I do appreciate and understand the need for the gender mix. The world is quite evenly split on gender so we need to realise we need each other and it should be a symbiotic relationship. Women add such a different aspect – we feel, we connect and yes we are more emotional, but even if you are marketing a bot, it’s an important balance to have in any business.
What 3 tips do you have when it comes to implementing solutions in your field?
- Look at all the options, there is never a one size fits all. The world is changing, and fast. This last year has been a tremendous example of that.
- You have to adapt, mix it up and not be scared of change. Innovation is key, and then sit as a team, look at each other’s strengths and assign the tasks accordingly.
- Never put anyone in a position that doesn’t amplify their strengths. A good leader always surrounds themselves with strong people.
Where do you see South Africa’s Advertising sector going in the next 5 years?
I have no doubt that it is constantly evolving. Yes, more digital, less print, more virtual, more e-commerce, fewer bricks and mortar. It is a scary and hairy journey that we are on, and we need to fasten our seat belts! What remains important is to always remember your customer, each one has a different need and it is important to have a 360-approach to utilising all the media around us. Be customer-centric in all your efforts.
Have you read any books or listened to any podcasts that have inspired you and your career thus far?
I so loved Growing Greatness by Pepe Marais from Joe Public. It was, and he is, so inspiring and down to earth and I really connected with his business purpose. Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey has been very influential in my business, not only in his transformative spirit, but as the founder of Wholefoods, this brand has been at the forefront of my innovation inspiration.
What is your ‘why’ i.e. Bottom line? And how do you stay motivated?
I must love it. I need to know, I need to understand, I need to be passionate and convinced, I need to feel success in whatever form or fashion. It may be a great meeting, a heartfelt chat, cheers at the end of the day. It just has to be REAL.
Outside of work, are you involved in any extracurricular activities and/or community outreach projects?
I am an animal lover. I support Fisantekraal Animal Welfare (FAW) in any way I can and undertake personal fundraising through fashion for a cause (my other passion) or pro bono work at the office. I have a 17-year-old son, so that also takes up some extracurricular time that I wouldn’t miss for the world. I do spend time planning the very best family holidays – that’s my passion, filling the bucket with the best memories and spending invaluable time with my family and friends.
What advice do you have for young women/future generations who aspire to work in your industry?
- Always have high hopes.
- Look for opportunities in everything you do and do not be scared of change.
- Surround yourself with YES WE CAN people and use their strengths to enhance yours.
- Always be compassionate and humble even when you are flying high.
- You got it girl, go for it.
*Interested in discovering more inspiring stores about Top Women? Check out the 16th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here.