Nicole Biondi is the Head of Marketing and Communications activities for Innovation Edge – an impact-first investor focused on early childhood in South Africa. She focuses on the needs and opportunities of the investment platform, as well as offering a range of support for individual investments within the portfolio.
In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors for Capita, a US-based Think Tank that aims to foster new ideas to ensure a future in which children and their families flourish. She also serves as a Strategic Advisor to Thandeka Travel – a travel company that provides high-end African adventures for travellers seeking a deeper experience.
Added to her abilities as a skilled strategist and communicator, Nicole is a dynamic leader with event management expertise; public speaking prowess and coaching and facilitation skills. She has more than 18 years’ experience in the fields of marketing, communications and public relations within a number of sectors.
She has led a high-performing team of creative individuals as the Strategic Communications and Content Manager for Cape Town Tourism – the City of Cape Town’s (CoCT) official destination marketing agency. Her role there had a strong focus on content marketing and crisis communications. As the Regional Marketing Manager for conservation agency South African National Parks, she concentrated her efforts on cause-related marketing.
Nicole has also consulted for the hospitality, retail and art industries, successfully launching a fine dining restaurant, niche cycle store and the work of a number of high-profile South African contemporary artists amongst other achievements. A fan of keeping connected to the pulse of a variety of industries through her “side-hustle”, she is also a performance poet, voice artist, event organizer and often MC, giver of keynote talks, writer and host of murder mystery dinner events and a personal development and public speaking coach.
Should you be busy with any interesting initiatives, please tell us a little more about it.
Each year we speak at length about how children are leaving school – our newsfeeds full of insights and opinions about the matric pass rate. What we don’t currently consider, is how children are starting school.
I am part of a team currently working on ‘a first’ for South Africa. In April 2022, we’ll be launching an Index that will tell us how many of our young children are developmentally on track for their age by the time they enter the formal schooling system.
Having this information will give our country a population baseline against which we can track changes over time. We will be able to use this information to make better decisions about how to allocate resources; to improve the design and delivery of services to young children; and to support parents and other caregivers in the important role they play in ensuring that their children thrive by five.
What is it that you are passionate about?
I am passionate about doing work that contributes to human flourishing. To me this means work that results in more people being physically and emotionally healthy; and living lives that are filled with meaning, connectedness and joy.
Who or What has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
My grandmother, Elizabeth (Betty) Saunders! Why? Well, because for every one of us, the quality of our early life experiences laid the foundations for who we are today. When I was little, Mama and I would spend hours playing together. She’d tell me stories that would transport me to other worlds. Only relatively recently have I really grasped just just how special those moments actually were. Those simple loving storytelling interactions between me and Mama were helping build critical components of my developing brain at a time where it mattered most. So much of who I am today was thanks to her.
What is your personal “motto”?
“As long as I have a WHY, I can endure any HOW.”
What advice would you give a woman wanting to follow her dreams?
Passion combined with a growth mindset are critical components for achieving your purpose.
Who or what is your inspiration and why?
My 22 year old daughter Skye is my inspiration. No matter the company or the situation, she is always magnificently herself – no masks, no armour. I deeply admire her courage and commitment to being her authentic self – no matter the situation. She reminds me, through being rather than saying, that it is not our job to manage how people will respond to us. It is our job to keep showing up, in all our splendid uniqueness, come what may.
What advice would you give your younger self?
You are enough. You have enough. You do enough.
Your favourite daily affirmation:
I am open to wonder. I am open to joy.
Your favourite quote:
“Reinvent yourself over and over and over and over and over until you find home. There is no timeline for the soul.” ~Malebo Sephodi
Which book are you currently reading?
Wild has Roots (poetry collection) by Pralini Naidoo
What are your top 3 business tips?
- Be as clear about what you do NOT do, as you are about what you do. You can’t be everything to everybody.
- Make sure to invest in the ABCs of your employees – their Agency to make swift decisions; their sense of Belonging and purpose; their skills and Competencies to allow them to do their jobs well.
- Look at the new never-normal environment as both a threat AND an opportunity. Seeing disruption as a threat will help you to act quickly, while simultaneously seeing the opportunity will help you to think and respond creatively.
What would you say is your secret to success?
My insatiable curiosity, sense of adventure and consistently choosing to see all life experiences as opportunities for learning.
Do you have any marketing tips to share for women owned businesses?
- Network with other women entrepreneurs/business-owners.
- Don’t give in to imposter syndrome (especially when you find yourself in a marketplace dominated by men).
One piece of (general) advice that you’d like to share:
Just because you can do everything yourself, doesn’t mean you should – delegate!
Submitted by: Clayton Morar Media