Building the brand

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

His favourite brand is Audi, which he says makes the most amazing cars, coupled with a statement of understated success. Alistair Mokoena, marketing director of the Gum and Candy Portfolio at Cadbury South Africa since August 2008, says that his all-time favourite marketing campaign is the "Alive with Possibility" campaign.

Mokoena's role is to drive the growth and development of leading brands: Stimorol, Dentyne, Clorets, Halls, Éclairs, Chappies and Endearmints.

"I have a BCom and an LLB degree from Rhodes University but I wanted to be in business so I got into Unilever as management trainee. But my legal education gave me crucial skills," he said.

"I worked at Unilever for four years and gained experience on various brands. Later, I joined Tiger Brands to learn about food marketing."

Here he worked on leading brands such as Dairybelle, Moni's pasta and Tastic rice, which is the biggest rice brand in South Africa.

"Working with various brands is crucial as you come across consumers with different tastes and preferences.

"It is important to gain experience in the field of your interest.

"Through these brands I learnt how to cater for the low, middle and high income consumers," Mokoena said.

His current challenge is to learn the confectionary market.

"People development is important to me and the company. I bring my experience to my current position and I plan to impart this knowledge to my team," he said. "I am 32 and I bring a youthful and ambitious edge to the team and the business as a whole."

He says the marketing sphere in this country has a shortage of talent but the current professionals are excellent in their jobs.

"Marketing skills are transferable and multinational companies offer international careers. South Africa is interesting for anyone in marketing as it is a diverse nation giving you the ability to learn widely and observe various consumer behaviors. Our diversity gives you the ability to find common ground and to bring people together through marketing."

Mokoena advises that to be in demand, one needs various skills for further growth and success.

"You need to be excellent at strategies, and not only creativity. You should have commercial acumen and leadership skills to be of value in this industry," said Mokoena.

"Foreign languages are also crucial. The emerging business languages are Swahili, French, Mandarin, Russian, Portuguese and Hindi.

"This will give you a competitive edge in the field as there is a major shift of power from the current global powers to these emerging industries."