By Gomotsegang Motswatswe
It’s not enough that businesses simply be focused on the bottom line without regard for the communities and people that surround them and contribute towards their success. For Lianne Williams, the Marketing Director at Vuma, ‘doing good’ for and by these communities and empowering her team to be extraordinary, are crucial aspects of her role and backed by Vuma business values. “I firmly believe that every person has something to offer another person and the world,” says Williams. We took some time to delve a bit deeper into what makes this marketing maverick – and self-confessed hippie – tick.
“I have had the privilege of developing and leading teams where I have seen people grow in leaps and bounds. Their output ultimately speaks to and shows in improved business performance. I want to make a positive difference in the lives of others and use the resources, tools and opportunities available to me to share with others to grow and shine the brightest they can.”
Williams points to Vuma’s ongoing support of initiatives such as GirlCode, which aims to empower women and girls with tech skills, as a key example of the importance of purpose-driven organisations that are focused on the bigger picture. She adds that empowering more female youth with STEM skills to be able to pursue careers in tech is a major priority, “which is why we push to include girls and young women in every Vuma initiative and encourage training and the use of technology in the development and enhancement of skills regardless of sector or industry.”
Williams believes that collaboration and partnership aligned to common goals are crucial for the success of these initiatives and uses her role and resources to initiate the right conversations in closed meetings as well as public platforms, getting the message to reach other individuals, corporates and organisations.
Having built a career as a marketing and communications specialist spanning 18 years, Williams harnesses her skills, which lie formidably in market research and data analytics, to help drive change through Vuma’s many community-focused projects.
Most recently, these have included the My Community Connects platform, which gives young and talented individuals from previously disadvantaged backgrounds the chance to share their gifts, from dance and design to sign language interpretation. Williams is also passionate about helping realise Vuma’s vision of connecting every registered primary and high school to free 1Gbps fibre broadband internet through its Fibre to Schools initiative, aimed at driving digital transformation and breaking digital barriers.
The success of these initiatives depends heavily on Williams’ ability to make the right calls and lead her team effectively. As such, her leadership style is rooted in trust that the right people are in the right roles to fulfil the required deliverables and avoids micromanagement entirely.
“I don’t follow a particular leadership style. I believe different stages of development within a team and organisation require different leadership styles to achieve goals. For example, urgent outcomes may require a more authoritarian, autocratic leadership style where a decision needs to be made quickly, instead of transactional leadership where more time is afforded for short term goals or charismatic leadership where an organisation or team requires a deeper connection and level of engagement to move forward or to work through a crisis,” she says.
She is one of many social change-makers at Vuma, identified this way for their shared passion for making a real and tangible impact in South Africa. In this way, Williams is empowered to explore how technology can be harnessed for the greater good in South Africa. For her, this means delving into how technology can amplify and extend the reach of important messages to people no matter where they are, and how brands can better serve the communities in which they operate.
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