Each year Avance Media honours the most influential young South Africans. Nontokozo Madonsela is one such trailblazer who has motivated and inspired others to do better and achieve more through her work.
Earlier this year, she felt humbled and honoured to be named the most influential South African in the Business category.
Nontokozo has dedicated her working life to driving change and making an impact on society. And she has loved every minute of it. But she’s quick to assert that she’s just one person, and attributes much of her success to the amazing talent which she surrounds herself with - whether in her corporate life or her private business.
“You don’t have to do it all. As a leader, my role is to inspire others, to make space for my colleagues to do what they need to do, and to shape the direction of the business.”
Despite the traditionally male-dominated executive environments in which she operations, Nontokozo is certainly not intimidated by all that testosterone. In fact, her success demonstrates how she navigates the business world with grace, dignity and confidence.
Nontokozo attained a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), specialising in marketing, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and she has almost 20 years’ experience in this field.
Her current role is as Chief Marketing Officer of MMI Holdings. Here she oversees the company brand as well as the Momentum, Metropolitan, Multiply and Guardrisk brands.
Nontokozo believes that, as a woman, she is able to view things differently, to empathise with the market, and ultimately tell better stories. However, she admits that, to be taken seriously as a woman in corporate life, she’s had to be absolutely clear on her expertise and her experience.
She adds, “I am not apologetic and I don’t undersell my experience. I’ve come across people who think marketing is putting up balloons and selling cupcakes. I make them understand that it is a thinking and technical discipline. You have to balance head and heart.”
Apart from her stellar career, Nontokozois a co-owner of Spa88 in Parkhurst. How does she balance a successful business with her demanding career?
“It is impossible to keep my hands on everything. I have a fantastic partner and a great team who I trust.” Having a shared vision ensures that she doesn’t need to micromanage, and one-on-one coffee sessions help to keep her people from feeling disconnected.
Unsurprisingly, Nontokozo believes that if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re simply not big enough – something which she instils in her boys. “It’s normal to have moments when you are scared. But never stop pursuing your dreams, your ambitions or agenda. In the words of Joyce Meyer ‘Do it afraid’!”
She adds that a culture of learning is so important. As a child, Nontokozo witnessed her parents achieve multiple degrees in the field of education late in life while providing for their children, and giving them the love and attention they needed.
Similarly, she is living her dream and still makes time to be a hands-on, attentive mother.
Strong Female Role Models
Along with her belief in lifelong learning, Nontokozo argues that it is essential for women of all ages to have strong female role models to aspire to.
“We need each other! I’ve found my mentors’ ability to challenge and shape me is only possible when I am able to be honest.
As women we need to create that environment and safe place where we can be authentic and vulnerable with each other.”
For Nontokozo you really can have it all, the successful career, a happy family and a life outside of work. But she cautions you against striving for perfection. Simply enjoy the journey you are on.