Andile Qokwen

Name: Andile Qokweni

Agency: Media Shop

Title: Business Unit Manager 

How was the Afrpolitan shoot?

It was very nice actually. One doesn't often get a chance to get recognition. Some of us have been working in this industry for 10 years now, and unless you are winning awards year in and year out, it's rare you get profiled or recognised, so it was nice.

Where did it all start for you?

It started in Cape Town in 2008, when I began working for the agency that Donald Mokgale is now MD of – Carat. Back then I was sending Donald briefs at Posterscope for outdoor because I required someone who knew Johannesburg well. So, we already worked together as juniors. At some point we all crossed paths at Aegis and Mindshare, too – so I've known these guys for a very long time.

What is your advice for other young people coming into the industry?

What we are finding is that young people coming into the industry want to be strategists overnight. But the reality is that you first need to understand the industry – you need to understand how insights work, how buying works, how planning works, and only then can you start to worry about writing strategies and ultimately moving into management. So be patient!

 Once upon a time, six interns entered the media field and proved that hard work, grit, creativity and pure determination are the right qualities to get you to the top.

What are your thoughts on mentorship?

We were lucky that there were a couple guys in the industry that we could learn from and, of course, it's always better when you learn from someone who has actually done it. But it's not easy to find mentors who are willing to offer their time and to impart their knowlege, but it's important because it feeds into the notion of inclusion. Look at the guys around me – there is a strong pool of talent and we need to be the ones to carry the torch. We need to offer the youth a solid base of advisors and mentors.

Has digital killed the radio, outdoor and publishing star?

You must look at the rate of adoption. In first-world countries, traditional media may be under threat because digital there is strong and they are early adopters. This is not the case in South Africa. It is reported that 60% of South Africa is on a digital platform, but there is still 40% that is not using digital. That 40% may have a lower LSM but it still has value. So, you have to look at the dynamic for each country. People are still consuming media on radio, on television and outdoor because they are still using their cars. Publishing will need to adapt quickly though.

Andile influencers…

Best book: The Art of War – that is one of my favourite book. I almost feel at times in advertising that it is all about developing an action plan and reading the Art of War you need to understand what you need to go into battle, presenting to clients is like going to war to convince them to do something you believe in.

Best film: The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. There’s a theme developing here…

Best live performance: Trevor Noah. I went to watch Trevor Noah at the Nando’s comedy festival in 2008. He was a main act. He wasn’t big nationally, though I literally walked out I said that the guy was destined for greatness. In all honesty I was totally blown away. His accents showed a diversity that represented what South Africa is today.

Most memorable experience: Having a child. I have a 3-year-old son. I guess before that I was like a Lone Range and enjoyed doing what I wanted. But for the first time I understood what it was all about. Unconditional love. This little person is fully reliant on me to become something in life. That is quite a humbling experience.

 Watch the interview here: