11 September 2022
Welcome to #WiMMeets - a series of short interviews with marketing leaders from across Africa and around the world. The series will present a different side to senior professionals with the aim to share the things that matter to them and inspire others.
In this interview, we sat down with Natasha Maharaj, Marketing Director of Distell.
Natasha is a seasoned marketer with over 19 yrs of global marketing experience, having worked for multinationals such as Unilever, Nestle and PepsiCo Simba and in her latest tenure, Distell. Her career path has taken her from South Africa to Switzerland and Singapore and exposed her to a range of cultures and markets in Asia, Latin America and Europe. Her experience has ranged from Brand Management, Innovation, Sales, as well as Marketing & Commercial Leadership. She has been in the employ of Distell for over 4.5yrs
A strong strategist, she has spent many years generating profitable growth through innovation and the development of portfolios anchored by consumer preferences.
Natasha in her current role has led the Marketing Department of Distell Southern Africa for over 3yrs which includes short and long-term marketing and innovation strategy development and execution. She leads the balance between customer and consumer orientation in the commercial leadership team, strategy formulation and investment decisions across consumers segments and the Southern Africa portfolio, as well as the relevant brand custodianship.
She is mum to 2 wonderful little girls, wife to a superdad and a yoga and music lover.
WiM Africa: What gives you energy and drives you forward when you are not feeling at the top of your game?
NM: My family, my inner voice/ knowing, an abundance mindset
WiM Africa: Which advertising campaign, from any brand, has been the most memorable for you and why?
NM: The digitally-led Savanna Virtual Comedy Bar campaign
2020 was a tough year. With a global pandemic, lockdowns and bans, it was easy to take life too seriously in those tough times. South African consumers were looking for a light-hearted, witty perspective that allowed them to laugh. The Savanna Virtual Comedy Bar came to life during lockdown Level 5 in order to show its continued support for South African comedians.
Savanna continues to aim to uplift a nation through humour, as laughter truly is the best medicine. It came to life during lockdown Level 5 to show its continued support for the SA comedy industry. During this time, the Savanna Virtual Comedy Bar lived on Savanna’s social media channels and due to restrictions, no production or filming could take place. As a result, fans followed a YouTube/Facebook link on Thursday nights to receive their weekly dose of laughter when they needed it most. With a line-up featuring much loved SA comedians, the show didn’t disappoint. We supported comedians who needed to earn, we kept South African’s positive and hopeful . We realised over the first lockdown that no matter what level of lockdown we found ourselves in, there was no ban on serving unrestricted laughter. Covid-19 just forced us to think on our feet, find different ways to show our support to the comedy industry and ways to entertain our fans when they were feeling isolated from family, friends and fun.
WiM Africa: What three pieces of advice would you give to a woman marketer aspiring to a senior position about getting to and staying at the top of their profession?
Lead from a place of authenticity and originality- flow according to your own rhythm and drumbeat (cut out the external noise, centre inwards, don’t compare).
Design your best life - bespoke for you that brings happiness, peace and contentment.
Stay curious and open to the world.
WiM Africa: Which one person, dead or alive, would you say inspires you the most and why?
NM: Barack Obama is an icon and inspiration to me. He leads from a place of hope and goodness, his ability to connect on any level and impact positively, his charisma, intellect and charm are second to none. His ability to listen and understand, remaining calm and consistent through all crises he led and navigated through, marching to his own beat always – he is such an amazing human being.
WiM Africa: If you were stuck on a desert island what three things, excluding electronics, could you not do without?
Firelighter to cook / warm water for a mini bath (my favourite pass time is having a bath ;) ).
Discover more #WiMMeets interviews here!