The South African professional landscape is bursting with talented and passionate young women making waves in their respective fields, but women are still considerably under-represented at top levels across industries.
More needs to be done to recognise and showcase their achievements, particularly to inspire budding creatives at school level to go out and make their dreams a reality.
These five young women are smashing glass ceilings on their way to the top of their respective creative fields, and share their inspiring stories since completing their studies at Vega, an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE).
1. Nicola Fundaro – 3D Visualizer at Pattichides and Partners
Nicola Fundaro, an IIE graduate, graduated from Vega in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interior Design and joined the in-house 3D department of Pattichides and Partners in the same year, where she’s responsible for creating high-end 3D visual renderings of architectural spaces for a variety of clients. She describes herself as a born creative with a passion for creating beauty in unique ways to bring her clients’ ideas to life.
“You never know what life has in store for you, so it’s important for young women in particular to equip themselves with as much knowledge and exposure to their chosen industry as possible, because knowledge is power.”
2. Samantha Allenberg – Communication Lead at Uber Africa
Samantha Allenberg joined Uber in 2014, where she has played a central role developing and driving the popular ride-sharing company’s communications strategy across sub-Saharan Africa. With an IIE honours degree in Strategic Brand Communication from Vega, Samantha encourages young women to pursue education, but believes that exposure to the realities of the industry you’ve chosen is just as important.
“Worldly experience, real conversations and debate will bring you more insight than any study manual could,” she says. “For that reason, I encourage young female graduates to attend marketing and brand conferences, read online forums or blogs, and intern at an agency or company to gain as much experience as possible.”
3. Joanne Goldberg – Creative Director at SPACE
After receiving an IIE BA Honours degree in Brand Leadership from Vega in 2012, Goldberg got her first job as an intern at a film production company, and quickly worked her way up the ad industry ranks from there. Some of the projects she is currently working on include a campaign for a global ice-cream brand, the launch of a new car in South Africa, and a 360-degree integrated campaign for one of the agency’s home appliance brands.
“If you want to make it big in the industry, you have to be passionate about what you do and, most importantly, you have to work really hard to get there.”
4. Thato Kgatlhanye – Founder of Repurpose Schoolbags
Thato Kgatlhanye is the founder of Repurpose Schoolbags, an initiative aimed at providing children with schoolbags made from recycled plastic. The schoolbags are fitted with a portable solar panel that turns the bag into a desk lamp for reading and doing homework, with light for up to 12 hours. Kgatlhanye completed her IIE degree in Brand Building & Management at Vega, and has since won the International Elle Impact Award, along with being named one of Africa’s 10 most promising inventors with the ability to change the world by Ventures Africa.
“I grew up in an environment where I was always conscious of actually caring for other people and having a sense of empathy,” she says. “There are people out there that don’t have as much as I do, and if I find creative ideas on how to give them what it is they need, then we could both be fine… and brave the world together.”
5. Josie Hardy – Founder of BANC Handcrafted
After graduating with a Business Administration in Brand Building and Management degree in 2015 at Vega, Josie Hardy dove head first into establishing her own handcrafted furniture and homeware business called BANC Handcrafted. Hardy follows in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, who were both avid carpenters, and has made her mark as one of the few women turning the trade into a lucrative business.
“BANC has been an expression of creativity, moments of inspiration strung together, a product of procrastination, a way to make things that can’t be bought and an unexpected education,” she says. “The BANC story is still being worked out, which is fun and uncertain and challenging in almost all the best ways.”
Building the next generation of empowered female entrepreneurs and industry leaders starts with a solid education, and is fuelled by encouraging and enabling women to enter creative fields. Visit www.vegaschoolschool.com to find out more about the IIE qualifications available for study at Vega.