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#BehindtheMask: Nedbank IMC speaker Nontokozo Madonsela

Nontokozo Madonsela, group chief marketing officer at Momentum Metropolitan Holdings, is going to be speaking at this year's Nedbank IMC on the topic of 'Jerry Maguire: Leading with Purpose'.
#BehindtheMask: Nedbank IMC speaker Nontokozo Madonsela

Madonsela’s career path has been defined by an uncompromising commitment to delivering smart, innovative and memorable marketing solutions across a wide variety of industries, for Standard Bank, British American Tobacco, Coca Cola, the South African Breweries and Hollard.

Here, we find out more about what’s really behind her mask…

What are you planning to speak about, why, and what are some key talking points you plan to discuss?

I will be talking about purpose-led leadership. I intend to share what this means to me and weave in lessons from Jerry Maguire, which is one of my all-time faves.

I selected this topic because leading with purpose is what we all need especially in this time of pain, loss and so much uncertainty. Empathy, humanity and seeing more than the performance metric is what has kept me and my team going.

What are you looking forward to with regard to the event?

I have heard so many good things about the IMC. This will be my second one to attend, and I am looking forward to hearing from the fantastic speakers that are coming through. I think the range of topics and movies is going to make for some great content for all of us to learn from.

Tell us about your role as group chief marketing officer: Momentum Metropolitan Holdings Limited?

Aah, I really enjoy my role. I think selling insurance is harder than banking and FMCG. I am always challenging the team to find ways to inject emotion to an otherwise very cold category, and we are starting to see great results in brand health and other sentiment reports. My role also involves putting out fires as we deal with curveballs that come away through client complaints and other crisis matters.

Last year, you were nominated by PRovoke (formerly the Holmes Report) as one of the most influential in-house communications and marketing professionals in the world for 2020. Congratulations! What did this recognition mean to you?

It was an incredible award for me. I am always striving to do work that makes impact. Getting this award affirmed that I am doing so successfully.

Any key lessons you can share with aspiring marketers?

I would say that marketing requires one to have a thick skin. Our work is always in public display (unlike Excel sheets that accountants work with). We take views, opinions and criticisms from our own peers as well as the public. It is tough to hear that your work is not hitting the right spot, or to be told that someone’s partner doesn’t like the ad.

I would also say that you need to balance strategic thinking with creativity. We are going to operate in the “grey” for a while, so an entrepreneurial mindset is crucial for success.

Make reality your friend in regard to shrinking budgets. I think more businesses will continue to cut spend, and marketing seems to always be the one that is “sacrificed”.

Tell us more about your experience and/or any other career highlights to date.

Leading a brand turnaround for Standard Bank. Under my leadership, a campaign entitled “What’s Your Next” changed how the retail bank in South Africa is perceived, with a reported 4.4% improvement in the customer satisfaction index (the largest increase of any South African Bank).

Leading the renaming of the MMI group to Momentum Metropolitan. An achievement the group had struggled with since the merger in 2010.

Repositioning the Momentum brand, with strategy that has led the brand to being about enabling the journey success. The brand has regained its relevance in the market and been noticed for campaigns like #NoApologyForMySuccess and flipping the “M” – Womentum to honour women in August.

Leading the repositioning of Metropolitan through two campaigns called ‘My People, My Everything’ as well as #Start2021Stronger.

  • Judging Financial Mail AdFocus 2019 Awards
  • Speaker at the Indie Forum, London – Oct 2019
  • Booked panellist for Indie Summit, London – May 2020
  • Nominated by PRovoke (formerly the Holmes Report) as one of the most influential in-house communications and marketing professionals in the world for 2020
  • Honorary Doctorate in Humanitarianism by the Global International Alliance for leading work that supports women under the Momentum brand

How has the pandemic and subsequent national lockdowns affected Momentum Metropolitan specifically and your work?

Adjusting to working from home was challenging. We are a very connected team of marketers, and we thrive when we are in the office. So, we had to find a way to keep the energy going even as we work remotely.

In terms of actual work, we had to interrogate our plans to be sure that we were doing the right stuff as the whole world shifted. Our agency partners have been amazing. They were quick to find ways to keep the fires burning and not lose momentum.

What’s really behind your mask - literally and figuratively speaking?

A long-lasting lipstick that is a shade of red or plum. A huge optimistic smile. I really cannot deal with the gloomy/sad energy we are confronted by. It is heartbreaking to see the loss that is around us. I try to bring optimism and an uplifting energy where I can.

Growing up, what did you want to be?

As a child, I wanted to be a newsreader. My dad used to watch a lot of news and bought newspapers every weekend. So, I would imitate the newsreaders and pretend like I was delivering the news bulletin.

What did you study, where did you expect your career to take you, and how does this measure up to your current reality?

After matric, I initially registered for B.Com Accounting, intending to qualify as a Charted Accountant. After the first year, I knew that I had made the wrong choice. Following chatting to my mentor, I decided to study marketing, and I haven’t looked back since.

I love my profession. When I look back at my CV, my heart smiles.

What do you love most about the creative industry?

The idea of using our creativity to solve problems or influence positive behaviour changes is amazing. I said to my team the other day that we are magicians.

What's your typical workday routine?

No one day is the same, as I manage multiple brands with different work rhythms. Generally, I move from meeting to meeting (Zoom/Microsoft Office). I try to squeeze in walks in between when I have gaps, even just for 15 minutes.

When you're not busy working, what do you do? How do you socialize these days?

I enjoy going for walks with friends. That way we exercise and catch up. I also enjoy hosting friends and family at my house.

What are you reading/listening to/watching at the moment?

  • No Rules Rules (Netflix)
  • Behind Her Eyes (Netflix)

What’s the first thing you plan to do when things go back to normal?

Travel to Italy with my kids.

About Jessica Tennant

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