As the managing director of one of South Africa's leading digital marketing consulting firms, Diane Charton works in one of the fastest-growing segments of the media and technology worlds. But her high-pressure job hasn't kept her from excelling in the international sporting arena as well as raising her two small daughters aged 3 and 1.
Juggling these many roles simply takes a focus on balance, says Charton, who studied civil engineering at Wits. After her short stint working in the civil engineering field, she moved into the world of radio with United Stations.
One of her roles involved promoting SA Fashion Week where she quickly found that she had both a knack and a love for the mixture of strategic thinking and social interaction that the world of marketing demands. From United Stations, she moved to The Old Shanghai Firecracker Agency, where she honed her management skills as the leader of a business unit.
Charton was offered the job at Acceleration Media - then a part of South African multinational e-marketing group Acceleration - when she and her husband were looking to move to Cape Town in 2006.
Charton says that she was attracted to the digital environment because of the rapid growth and change that characterise the sector. "There's a new challenge every day," she adds. "My job today is very different to what it was two years ago and it will be different again in two years from now."
When Charton was first appointed to Acceleration Media, it was a small company of just four people and focused mostly on online media planning and buying. The company, now owned by a joint venture between leading empowerment group Kagiso Media and French-based Lagardère, has since grown to more than 20 people and offers a full spectrum of digital marketing services.
Charton started working in this sector when it was still a fairly male-dominated environment, but she says that staying on top of the changing technology is a challenge whether you are a man or a woman.
There are now many strong woman taking leadership roles in the industry, she adds.
Charton is an opinion leader in the digital space in South Africa and is frequently sought out for media interviews and speaking engagements. She says that her philosophy as a manager centres around transparency and compassion. The Acceleration Media office is completely open-plan to facilitate communication.
Although there is no space for slacking in the online sector, where long hours and hard work are the norm, it is important for people to enjoy their time together in the office and have fun. "Work takes you away from your family and friends, so it's important that it is rewarding for you," Charton says.
Away from the office, Charton is a keen sportswoman with a lifelong passion for sport. She discovered the game of touch rugby in 1999 and has since represented South Africa as a member of the 'touchboks' at three world cup events.
Most recently, Charton returned from Edinburgh as part of a mixed over-30s team that brought back a world cup bronze medal. It is through sport that she has made many of her best friends and through touch rugby that she met her husband. "I love being part of a team and working together for a common goal," Charton says.
Charton says that being a mother is the most satisfying role of hers. It is thanks to a strong support base at home and at the office that she is able to excel equally at home, on the sports field and in the office, she adds.