At 30, Cape Town- born Marketing Manager, Lowena Waries is the mastermind behind the success of the youth and music brands such as, Channel O, Vuzu, Vuzu Amp and Mzansi Magic Music. She shares how she’s built a successful career as well as her success tips to the youth.
What were your career goals when you were young?
I always had a big interest in arts. I loved music, films and live concerts. I always knew that somehow I would find myself in the entertainment space. I did a Bachelor degree in Social Sciences when I was at the University of Cape Town, majoring in media sociology and drama. I then did a post qualification in marketing because I wanted to expand my knowledge on the marketing and business side of the industry. While I was at varsity I spent approximately five months in the USA and that changed my perception of how big the world is. This made my move to Johannesburg easier eight years ago when I got a job as the EPG editor of DSTV. I then worked my way up to social media manager, marketing assistant, brand manager and now marketing manager.
What was your vision when you first started your career?
The company that hired me was outsourced by Mnet and eventually the position became in-house. I had to re-apply for the post and I knew that once I got in the company, the opportunities for me to grow were a lot higher. I knew I didn’t want to stay in one position for a long time and that my career would progress. I am also not a typical corporate person as I like tapping into my creative side. I have done voice overs and some commercial adverts. I have had to strike a balance between corporate and the creative, which I am also passionate about. And I feel these are the types of opportunities a city like Johannesburg offers. I also think of ways to grow myself and throw myself in the deep end so I can be able to progress in my career.
What does your role as the Marketing manager entail?
My role is to be the strategic custodian of the brand. I have to strategically be on par with where the brand is going and make sure that all the other decisions that I take are aligned to what the brand is and where it’s going. I have to ensure that we are aligned to the right partners and brands. I oversee all the creative work and campaigns; whether it’s a new show launch, radio adverts or digital campaigns. I oversee media spend and determine what my above the line spend is. I also ensure that we work with the right brands with the events that we roll out and take care of the budgets of each brand. Another exciting part of my job is to build brands; eight years ago Vuzu didn’t exist and neither was Vuzu Amp three years ago and I was fortunate enough to be a part of the team that grew these brands.
You were just 28 when you became marketing manager of Mnet, what has helped you get to where you are at a young age?
I credit my success to extreme hard work. I think people forget that behind all the glamour and VIP section of events is pure hard work. As a social media editor I used to help out at events; from guest lists at the door to dealing with artists. I would arrive early at events and be the last one out. Doing the jobs that no one else wanted to do so early in my career has benefited me. I think timing is also important. Being at the right place at the right time to seize opportunities has helped me a lot. My mentor, Nkateko Mabaso, who is the GM of Mnet, has also been a big part of career growth. Being surrounded by people who are willing to teach you things is important as I had a lot to learn. My formula that got me this far is persistence, hard work, willingness to learn and a good mentor.
What is your advice to people who don’t have mentors to help progress their careers?
There’s nothing wrong with self-help. The great thing about the internet is that it has resources that can show you other people’s journey to success. I get inspired by the likes of Jay Z and Morgan Freeman who got his big break when he was 45 years old. Listening to other people’s stories and getting inspired by them might not get you an A to B of what to do next but it shows you the importance of endurance. If you don’t have a mentor find other means of inspiration. Read the right books and listen to talks. You also have to do a lot of introspection. True hustlers push through their dreams solo because they have the eye on the price regardless of who is mentoring them or not.
How big is your team and how is your leadership style?
One of the biggest lessons with my role is managing people because all along I have been focusing on getting the work done and growing myself. I had to learn to be a leader and managing millennials. I manage nine people. I have had to learn to let go and delegate on projects and being patient with people. I also learned to invest in other people because I now impart some of my skills to my team.
What do you credit your success to?
My parents are my biggest inspiration. Both of them never got the opportunity to finish high school. I am the first in my family to go to university. They invested a lot in my education and keeping me grounded in my faith in God.
What is your advice to young people who are discouraged by not seeing their dreams come to fruition?
Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Don’t take small wins for granted. I think sometimes we are so hard on ourselves. You shouldn’t take your degree, internship or contacts for granted. No one is an overnight success. Do the job that no one is willing to do and be careful of the relationships you keep. Your circle is important. Make things work for you, as long as they work for you. Planning is important. Set monthly goals that you can tick off, whether it’s researching opportunities or updating your CV.
What are your success tips to young people carving out their careers?
You control your own destiny. Stop being reliant on others to make your dreams come true. Be aggressive on achieving your dreams. Use your networks and contacts to your advantage. Don’t underestimate the power of vision boards. There are environmental challenges that present themselves as stumbling blocks. But you have to humble yourself enough to reach your dreams, whether it’s tutoring or waitressing on weekends to earn extra money to help you get to your destination. If you want something you have to hustle for it.
Connect with Lowena on
Instagram – lowenawaries
Facebook – Lowena Waries