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Culture Chameleon in Complex Terrain

Culture Chameleon in Complex Terrain

Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

October 14, 2019

Culture Chameleon in Complex Terrain

"South Africa is a perfect place to put social science into practice in the industry especially in post-Apartheid times"

Havas South Africa’s Chief Strategy Officer Tholoana Qhobela, has traveled the world to understand how brands can create meaningful relationships with their international audiences.

The social anthropologist turned strategist has injected a human element into countless successful campaigns for global brands, including Coca-Cola and Vodacom/Vodafone, throughout her twenty-year career.

Returning home, Qhobela shares her plans to put her worldly experience to use, helping Havas South Africa continue to thrive in a socially complex market.

 

How did you start your career working in advertising?

I needed a job practicing outside of academia as a social anthropologist and came across “Campaign” in the career library. I figured it could be a good fit for me.

You studied outside of Africa and have a background in social anthropology. What made you decide to bring your talents to Havas?

I had always intended to return to Africa, and South Africa is a perfect place to put social science into practice in the industry. It’s a pretty complex market, especially in post-Apartheid times. South Africa means being a cultural chameleon. It’s fun, annoying, and challenging.

What makes you excited to go to work every day?

The possibility of great communication underpinned by insight.

How does your experience working on global leading brands like Coca-Cola, Vodacom/Vodafone, and leading South African brands such as Liberty Group and Cell C prepare you for this role?

Each comes with different challenges, from both a consumer and business point of view. Any form of communication gives me the chance to work across consumer and business brands, wherever there is a need.

When managing a team, what qualities (in your opinion) make a good leader?

It’s important to listen, support, and develop teams.

What do you aim to accomplish in your role outside of your direct job description?

It’s my job to raise the profile of Havas Johannesburg in the industry through leadership at every point of the communication cycle.

What have you learned from working in this industry?

It’s vital to be able to shift to a client’s needs regardless of the industry.

What do you love about the industry and what do you wish you could change?

The innate need for creative solutions is the positive. The difficulties are ensuring that our communications are relevant in such a fractured market, where there are the challenges of cross-cultural understanding.

"South Africa is a perfect place to put social science into practice in the industry especially in post-Apartheid times"

Havas South Africa’s Chief Strategy Officer Tholoana Qhobela, has traveled the world to understand how brands can create meaningful relationships with their international audiences.

The social anthropologist turned strategist has injected a human element into countless successful campaigns for global brands, including Coca-Cola and Vodacom/Vodafone, throughout her twenty-year career.

Returning home, Qhobela shares her plans to put her worldly experience to use, helping Havas South Africa continue to thrive in a socially complex market.

 

How did you start your career working in advertising?

I needed a job practicing outside of academia as a social anthropologist and came across “Campaign” in the career library. I figured it could be a good fit for me.

You studied outside of Africa and have a background in social anthropology. What made you decide to bring your talents to Havas?

I had always intended to return to Africa, and South Africa is a perfect place to put social science into practice in the industry. It’s a pretty complex market, especially in post-Apartheid times. South Africa means being a cultural chameleon. It’s fun, annoying, and challenging.

What makes you excited to go to work every day?

The possibility of great communication underpinned by insight.

How does your experience working on global leading brands like Coca-Cola, Vodacom/Vodafone, and leading South African brands such as Liberty Group and Cell C prepare you for this role?

Each comes with different challenges, from both a consumer and business point of view. Any form of communication gives me the chance to work across consumer and business brands, wherever there is a need.

When managing a team, what qualities (in your opinion) make a good leader?

It’s important to listen, support, and develop teams.

What do you aim to accomplish in your role outside of your direct job description?

It’s my job to raise the profile of Havas Johannesburg in the industry through leadership at every point of the communication cycle.

What have you learned from working in this industry?

It’s vital to be able to shift to a client’s needs regardless of the industry.

What do you love about the industry and what do you wish you could change?

The innate need for creative solutions is the positive. The difficulties are ensuring that our communications are relevant in such a fractured market, where there are the challenges of cross-cultural understanding.

Patricia Murphy is a content creator with a background in digital health and lifestyle journalism. She loves to chat and tell stories.

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