Wandisile Nkabinde

Name: Wandisile Nkabinde

Agency: Multichoice

Position: Head of Media & Digital Marketing SA

Years in position: 6 months

Congratulations on your recent appointment as Head of Media & Digital Marketing at MultiChoice! What a big win!

Thank you, it was a big win! I have worked with this team before, so it didn't feel new to me. I felt like I came back home, and I'm loving it.

What are you loving most about it?

It's in the content space, which I'm passionate about, so it's not a forced fit. I get to embrace creativity every day.

What is your media superpower?

Imagination. My mind seems wild that way and growing up I used to spend lots of time drawing and painting. In business I also have a big interest in people, especially people who are not my demographic profile. I like to understand what makes them tick, what they enjoy and what they dislike, so I really listen to people when they talk. 

 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.

Where did your career begin?

My first opportunity was at brand agency, Interbrand Samson, as an intern. I then spent some time at Nota Bene and got the opportunity to learn from the strategy teams working on big accounts like Vodacom. There were long hours involved but I learned about analysis, insights and implementation.

What advice do you have for young people wanting to enter the market?

When I was doing my undergraduate degree, I would spend time at the internet cafe looking for intern opportunities so that when I finished studying, I would have some experience, which would set me apart from others. I wasn't interested in the money, I just wanted to learn. So my advice: be curious; don't be scared to try things; let your voice be heard; don't fear mistakes because you will learn from them; never get involved in the politics; focus on the right things; and do more than expected as you are always being watched so always shine.

The world is faced with great adversity right now. What is the greatest threat to the media world?

Currently, big job losses and salary cuts, coupled with shrinking marketing budgets. Clients are assessing what they are able, and willing, to still pay for and it's going to be tough. But, I think with common understanding between agency and client, we can change the way we do things and offer a lot of value on limited budgets.

Is there space for traditional media?

Ample room for traditional media! We just need to look at what was spent at the Superbowl again this year to realise that there is money and linear television still exists and is doing well. The question is: How will traditional media evolve through time? Humans are not just stuck on screens; we do take walks and we do go to the shops and online and offline will work more closely together.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Besides being told by my daughter that she loves me every day, I don't think I have yet achieved my greatest achievement, but I am still aiming high. From a campaign perspective, when I was at Mindshare, we partnered with Olgily to produce the KFC Soundbite campaign and that campaign yielded the most awards in my career. We won Best Social Media Campaign at AMASA and various other awards from other organisations. I felt very proud to be part of that campaign. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

It's broken into two for me: I'd like to start a non-profit helping the underprivileged through education, and I'd also like to explore the opportunity of running a blue chip company within the marketing space. I have a passion for artificial intelligence and I'd love to strategise on how companies can prepare for the future through AI and machine automation.

What does the word 'Afropolitan' mean to you?

An Afropolitan is somebody who puts Africa and what we stand for first. Wherever you are from, whether Cape Town or Cairo or West Africa, Afropolitans are a community of unity regardless of age, sex or race. It's about driving Ubuntu and sharing opportunities with our young people. I am an Afropolitan. 

Wandisile’s influencers…

Best books: None! Im not a big book reader, though I watch a lot of content. YouTube is my encyclopaedia.

Best film: The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith. Being a parent myself, I understand wanting to give your child a better life, and this character lived for his son, persevered and worked hard. It was very inspiring.

Best live performance: The Lion King, both on screen and in theatre. The story is just so beautiful and had an influence on me as a kid. Also, I’m a huge Pirates fan. It comes from the days when my uncle, in Orlando, would walk me across the road, holding me tight to watch the games. Sport is massive for me. And then there’s always Trevor Noah live.

Most memorable experience: I went to Thailand, which is a very watersports-centric place. I couldn’t swim, so most of the time I was stuck on the boat. I decided there that I would learn to swim. Prince (the other superhero in this shoot) became my swimming coach, and on the next trip to Mauritius I just jumped straight into the sea, and do you know what? I didn’t drown! I could see the fish and I couldn't believe all the great things I had missed for so many years. It was a great experience!

Favourite place: My most favourite place is my late grandmother’s house in Orlando West, Soweto. That house brings back so many memories. Her dream was to see me graduate, and I was the first in our family to do so. She was so proud. I feel connected to her at her house. In broader terms, I like India and Nigeria – both places with character and organised chaos. Love it!

 Watch the interview here: