Would you mind starting with an introductory paragraph – who you are, your age, what you studied etc.

My name is Masego Sibiya, and I am 28 years young. I conquered the Wits edge in 2015 with a BA degree in Media Studies and English Literature.

Would you please tell us more about Sum of 21?

Sum of 21 is a full-service marketing and advertising incubator agency intended to address transformation within the creative industry through job creation, skills development, and on-the-job training for the youth. The agency’s learnership programme aims to facilitate career development by applying hands-on learning models supported by seasoned industry mentors. This experience-based learning methodology leads to the development of employable resources allowed to grow soft skills and develop their knowledge gained as graduates. At the end of the 12-month learnership programme, the young professionals receive an accredited National Certificate in Advertising (NQF 5).

When, how and why did you get into/study marketing?Masego Sibiya

I actually did not study towards a Marketing career. I wanted to go into Fashion Editorial hence my choice in studying English Literature and Media Studies. Through my studies, my curiosity around audience behaviour and buying behaviour kept growing. I just wanted to understand the ‘why and what’ makes people buy into clothing brands, makeup etc.

What is your role in Sum of 21?

I am currently the Group Strategist. 

Please tell us more about your journey from being a learner at Sum of 21 to your current position.

I joined Sum of 21 in 2017 as a Client Service intern. I took a considerable risk in my career by moving from a corporate job to becoming an intern again. I had no idea what client service was about, but I was willing to learn. I used to volunteer to be a part of pitch brainstorms, creative campaigns etc., and I was always the one intern that would ask ‘why’. Six months down the line, I joined the Strategy team, and that was the start of my career.

Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists

My average workday is challenging to describe because I do so much. My mornings are dedicated to mentoring the Sum of 21 interns, so I teach them everything around account management, client communication, social media strategy, communications – the works.

I also spend a lot of time online researching trends, looking for new insights, watching what other brands are doing in their respected industries.

No day is the same as the other, and I’m constantly learning. 

How do you balance your home life and your work life?

Luckily for me, I live alone, and I don’t have my own family yet, so it’s easier for me to balance my home and work life. Currently, I work from home, so I manage my time around deadlines, meetings and what I need to eat for lunch and supper. 

What drives you and inspires you – what is it that you are passionate about?

My younger sisters inspire me to constantly ‘upgrade’ myself. As the first-born girl, I want them to witness that they can go for anything they put their minds to through my achievements. I don’t necessarily want them to look up to me; I just want them to see that they can be successful in whatever industry they are passionate about. They watched me take the risk of leaving a ‘comfortable’ job to pursue a career I am passionate about, so they should be just as brave in the pursuit of their dream career. 

Who or What has been the most significant influence in your life and why?

My biggest influence is all the women that break the gender barriers in their respected industries. 

What is your personal motto?

“iLife idliwa ngefork en knife”- Loosely translated as Live your life to the fullest. 

Where and when do you have your best ideas?

I get my best ideas when I ‘log off’ from the digital world, for example, when I am driving or that 10 min quiet time I have when I wake up.    

What advice would you give a young graduate wanting to follow their dreams in the marketing industry?

Like the Nike tagline, Just do it. There is nothing more fulfilling than doing what you love EVERY DAY. So, spend time researching start your own blog or social media page. Just do something first – the rest will naturally fall into place. 

Please share some of the lessons you have learnt as a young marketer in this competitive industry.

As a marketer, you create content for people, not the client. It is our responsibility to make the brand relatable to the end-user, not the client. At the end of the day, the client is not consuming the messages you create, it is their clients, so we need to speak to them. 

What would you say is Sum of 21’s secret to success?

The unique business model we are an advertising incubator agency intended to address transformation within the creative industry through job creation, skills development, and on-the-job training for the youth. The young creatives that join the program bring fresh new ideas to all the marketing collateral we create for our clients. They also get to experience the work in the different departments within an agency. As a result, we have many graduates who branch out into careers they are passionate about. 

Should Sum of 21 be busy with any exciting initiatives, please tell us a little more about them

Sum of 21 is currently running a campaign called the Small Business Booster. This is an innovative programme that focuses on raising funds through Enterprise and Supplier Development grants and channelling said funds towards brand and marketing campaigns for SMMEs.

Through the Small Business Booster programme, Enterprise and Supplier Development grant contributions help SMMEs get their unique message into the market, allowing them to build strong brands that reach the right audiences. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

That idea you are thinking of, just do it. Don’t be afraid that your idea will flop; just keep pushing, learning and growing.   

Your favourite daily affirmation (if you have one)?

I have quite a few affirmations, but my favourite is “today is another chance to become the better version of yourself”. 

Which book are you reading now?

These Things Really Happen To Me by Khaya Dlanga, the Senior Communications Manager of Creative Excellence and Digital at Coca-Cola South Africa for six years. 

Which book can you read over and over again? 

Paulo Coelho – Veronika Decides to Die, and The Winner Stands Alone. 

One piece of general advice you would like to share.

Make sure you are not too hungry before you make big decisions.

If your idea scares you, then that’s a sign that you should be brave when pursuing it.

Contact Information:
Website: www.sumof21.co.za
Facebook: Sum of 21 Academy
Instagram: @sumof21
LinkedIn: Masego Sibiya

Submitted by Indigo Blue Communications.