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Mongezi Sokanyile – Giving Digital Marketing a Fresh, Fiery, Face!

He is undeniably one of the people to look out for in marketing, and has all the makings of a future marketing leader. Dressed by TOPMAN (Sandton). Styled by Rea Kalape, photographed by Lawrence Manyapelo.

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After a short stint with SAB’s Castle Lite, he was permanently appointed as the Assistant Brand Manager: Castle Milk Stout where he was an integral part of projects like Castle Milk Stout Unplugged, The Delicious Food Festival and Maxwell Live in South Africa. After his tenure with Castle Milk Stout, he was promoted to Brand Campaign Manager: Brutal Fruit. This new role makes him the youngest to hold the Brand Campaign Manager role in recent history.

Mongezi fixes a white crisp shirt collar by Topman Sandton. Styled by Rea Kalape. Photographed by Lawrence Manyapelo.

Mongezi fixes this crisp white shirt collar by Topman (Sandton), styled by Rea Kalape. Photographed by Lawrence Manyapelo.

Having studied a BA in Information Science, which is not related to marketing, how did you gear up for this role?

Out of the box thinking is a trait that is held in high regard in marketing and I think the fact that I studied something that is so far removed from marketing had me thinking on a completely different wave length to those who studied marketing and the subsequent studies just firmed up my knowledge and made me a more complete marketer.

From being immersed in full-scale critical thinking at such a young age on Castle Lite and Castle Milk Stout respectively, have you always been comfortable with the concept space?

Conceptual thinking is an area I thrive on as an “imagineer” so although keeping the concepts fresh is not always the easiest thing to achieve but that’s where the beauty lies because we are constantly challenging conventional thinking.

Social Media has become a huge player in marketing and comms. How do you think this incline influences how brands choose to communicate and engage with their consumers?

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A lot of brands are moving to a digital first approach and that’s indicative of the impact digital has had on how we communicate with consumers. I think the way we engage consumers has also evolved significantly because brands can tap into multiple passion points, creating broader appeal. Social Media continues to become the IMG_0543go-to tool as it provides brands with real time interaction, due to its instantaneous nature, which gives us rapid feedback on how consumers receive our brands.

Young executives often face some challenges along their rise up the corporate ladder, such as having to work twice as hard to prove their worth. Have you ever felt out of your depth?

In a corporate environment that’s as demanding as this, it happens that you feel overwhelmed and out of your depth at times but self-belief and a strong team can make even the most intimidating tasks seem a simple feat.

How did you gain the confidence to get to grips with the Brutal Fruit brand and making it a success?

It’s an innovative brand and I believe I am an innovative thinker and because of this it was a relatively simple transition. In terms of making it a success I joined while it was on the up and the ask of me was a simple one “continue the momentum”.

The marketing industry is fast-paced and requires one to stay focused. How do you make sure you stay on track?

I keep my focus through clearly articulated goals; I mean if you know what you’re working towards it makes it very difficult to get distracted.

For someone who has achieved so much at such a young age, we can only assume that you draw your inspiration from somewhere. Who is your biggest inspiration in your life?


Mongezi Sokanyile walks the streets of Sandton in denim shirt and checkered pants by TOPMAN (Sandton). Styled by Rea Kalape. Photographed by Lawrence Manyapelo

It’s a cliché but my parents are my biggest inspiration. I think it stems from an appreciation of where they come from and what they’ve managed to achieve.

Whose career would you mirror if you could?

I have a few people who I’m close to whose careers I would love to emulate, but Khensani Nobanda (Executive Head: Post Paid at Vodacom) stands out for me. She has done so much and her work has seen her travel and live in interesting places and at my age I feel like the opportunities for me are still out there and the possibilities are infinite.

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Being a brand manager is…

Being a shaper of minds, not like a teacher but if you think about it, what we do is influence people’s perceptions and feelings about our brands.

What is your focus area for 2016 as a young man on the rise?

2016 is the year I focus on myself and establishing my personal brand. But more than that, I’m probably just going to try make my mark in the world. It sounds very abstract but, as much as one can plan, one still has a limited sphere of influence on what the greater plan is so I’m going to play by ear and see how it goes.

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