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#Newsmaker: Justine Cullinan wins Veuve Clicquot Elle Boss Corporate Award

5FM's station manager Justine Cullinan won the Corporate Award at the Veuve Clicquot Elle Boss Awards on Thursday, 9 November. It was just her and overall winner Amanda Dambuza, founder and director of consulting company Uyandiswa, who took home awards on the night.

The Veuve Clicquot Elle Boss Awards in association with Old Mutual Corporate celebrates entrepreneurial women and businesswomen who have made a significant contribution to business in South Africa.

“It means so much to me to be nominated by my own 5FM family,” comments Cullinan. “Working with talent, particularly a crazy bunch of DJs, presents a rather unique boss challenge, so it’s humbling to be acknowledged by those whose careers are literally who they are as opposed to the rest of us for whom our careers are what we do.”

Here, she tells us that what excites her most about the media industry and what it means to be a woman in radio in the digital age. For someone who lives loud, she realises that you don’t have to raise your voice to make yourself heard.

Justine Cullinan
Justine Cullinan

BizcommunityWhat do you love most about your career?
The changing and live-and-as-it-happens media landscape. The world of media is ever-changing, completely liquid and dynamic. Something can happen and immediately our plans can change and we can accompany our community through that change. We can be their best friends, their entertainment powerhouse, their go-to for info and their trusted source of the best in education and opportunity identification and support. That’s true impact and I think that’s what all of us are looking for in our careers, to make a real difference in real lives.

BizcommunityWhat are you currently reading/watching/listening to for work (besides 5FM)?
I’m reading Eddie Izzard’s biography. It’s not only vulnerable and open in its storytelling (which is one of the hardest things for DJs to learn how to do on-air) but it’s also educational in terms of the LGBT+ movement, which I find enlightening and helpful in continuing to remain agile on issues of importance that affect the community I caretake.

I’m watching Stranger Things and The Handmaid’s Tale… they’re just brilliantly made pieces of art and science, for which I have the utmost professional respect.

I’m listening to my usual repertoire of local and international radio stations, but I’ve developed a serious penchant for BBC’s Analysis podcasts.

BizcommunityWhat are you most looking forward to in 2018?
I’ve been commissioned to write a radio textbook for Boston City Campus with my programme manager, Grant Nash. I’m looking forward to working with him on something new for both of us and being part of readying students for work in the media industry in such a direct and real way.

BizcommunityWhat’s next?
My mother always says that you never know what excitement and opportunity is hurtling your way until it hits you. So who knows what may come. Maybe my PhD?

BizcommunityWhat does it mean to be a woman in radio in the digital age?
To be anyone in radio in the digital age is the most exciting and rewarding type of work to be doing. The audio product has never had more opportunity to be heard and understood in its entire history. Digital presents us with so many more ways to reach and engage with people.

BizcommunityWhat advice would you give to aspiring business women?

Embrace the people you work with. Each one of them knows things you don’t. If you can manage your ego and put yourself into ‘learn mode,’ I guarantee you will make a better leader.

About Justine Cullinan: Cullinan joined 5FM as marketing manager in 2008, after which they saw listenership increase from 1.65 million to 2.3 million in her four years working for the station. Since 2014, when she rejoined as station manager, they’ve seen the digital community increase beyond traditional listenership measurement numbers, having pioneered 5FM TV on YouTube and the 5FM mentorship programme.

For more, go to, follow #VeuveClicquotElleBoss on Twitter @ELLESouthAfrica, Facebook and Instagram.

About Jessica Tennant

Jess is Senior Editor: Marketing & Media at She is also a contributing writer. moc.ytinummoczib@swengnitekram

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