Top 25 Most Impactful Women in Corporate Communications

Currently overseeing Brand and Marketing at Safaricom, Zizwe’s career narrative is a compelling saga of innovation, leadership, and transformative success deeply rooted in her Kenyan heritage.

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NOZIZWE AWUOR VUNDLA

HEAD BRAND & MARKETING SAFARICOM PLC

“In both work and play, I strive to live up to my life’s purpose, which is to enable a generation of Africans to live loudly, joyfully and unapologetically!” These are the inspiring words of Nozizwe Awuor Vundla, held close as her personal mantra. It is worth noting that ‘Nozizwe’ translates to ‘Mother of Nations’ in Xhosa (South Africa), beautifully reflecting her mantra’s connection to nurturing future generations.

In the illustrious tapestry of Africa’s corporate communication and marketing landscape, Nozizwe, fondly referred to as Zizwe, stands out as a luminary. Her nomination among the Top 25 Most Impactful Women in Corporate Communications for 2024 is a testament to her indelible mark on the industry.

Currently overseeing Brand and Marketing at Safaricom, Zizwe’s career narrative is a compelling saga of innovation, leadership, and transformative success deeply rooted in her Kenyan heritage.

Born and bred in Kenya to a Kenyan mother and a South African father, Zizwe embodies a rich cultural heritage that spans the breadth of the African continent. This unique background has imbued her with an unparalleled understanding of African markets and consumers, shaping her into a marketing visionary who navigates the complexities of the continent’s diverse consumer base with instinctive ease.

Zizwe’s academic journey at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the United World College of Southern Africa (UWCSA) laid a robust foundation for her career, infusing her with a global perspective and an insatiable curiosity about consumer behaviour. This curiosity blossomed into a driving force that catapulted her into pivotal roles while in charge of some of the world’s most recognised brands.

Her experience, which spans Africa and the United States (US), includes various leadership positions with increasing responsibilities in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry, Consumer Beverage industry, and Telecommunication. She has worked for Procter & Gamble – South Africa (P&G), Procter & Gamble headquarters (HQ) in Cincinnati, US, Procter & Gamble Kenya, Diageo-South Africa, and now Safaricom PLC Kenya.

Her groundbreaking tenure at Procter & Gamble set the stage for her illustrious career, marking her as the first woman of African extraction to hold a global role at P&G’s HQ, focusing on the laundry business. Her strategic prowess was instrumental in launching the laundry category across sub-Saharan Africa, challenging established market dominions and securing P&G’s position as a formidable market segment contender. Her innovative marketing strategies and consumer-centric initiatives earned her numerous accolades, including the prestigious ‘Break the Ceiling – Africa’s Most Inspirational Women in Leadership 2022.’

Transitioning to Diageo South Africa, Zizwe spearheaded marketing excellence, driving digital transformation and forging brand partnerships that elevated consumer engagement to unprecedented levels. Her leadership rejuvenated flagship brands, instilling them with cultural relevance and significantly enhancing brand love and consumer interaction.

As the visionary head of Brand and Marketing at Safaricom, Zizwe’s strategic leadership continues to propel the Safaricom Brand, including M-PESA, Safaricom Business, and Safaricom Foundation, to new heights. She has particularly spearheaded various initiatives that continue to elevate Safaricom’s brand love, such as Safaricom Chapa Dimba, a KES 400 million national football tournament investment focused on giving youth aged 16-20 the opportunity to showcase and nurture their talent. Her innovative approach not only maintains Safaricom’s market leadership but also deepens its community engagement, embodying her commitment to empowering consumers and fostering connections.

Zizwe’s influence extends beyond the confines of corporate achievements. As a thought leader in marketing and communication, she is committed to disseminating knowledge and uplifting the marketing fraternity. She co-authored ‘Marketing to South African Consumers’,a pivotal work that delves into consumer behaviour, offering introductory marketing theory enriched with a localised South African perspective. This contribution underscores her dedication to advancing the marketing discipline, sharing invaluable insights grounded in her extensive experience and profound understanding of African markets.

Zizwe is particularly passionate about the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in understanding consumer behaviour and personalising customer experiences. She believes that leveraging AI and data analytics can unlock unprecedented insights into consumer preferences and trends, enabling brands to craft more effective and targeted marketing strategies. This passion for technology and in particular, AI, underscores her commitment to not only keeping abreast of the latest digital trends but also ensuring that Safaricom and other brands she is associated with remain at the forefront of innovation in the marketing landscape.

Beyond her professional realm, Zizwe’s zest for life manifests in her adventurous spirit. From scaling Mount Kilimanjaro to exploring the Namib desert, her adventures reflect her philosophy of, “…living loudly, joyfully and unapologetically,” a mantra that resonates throughout her career and personal life.

Zizwe Awuor Vundla’s accolades and achievements in marketing and brand development are unparalleled, marked by a relentless drive for excellence, innovation, and a profound commitment to the African narrative. Her work not only transforms brands, it inspires a new generation of marketers and business leaders, particularly championing the empowerment of African women in the corporate sector.

Zizwe’s story is a testament to the power of visionary leadership and the transformative impact of marketing communication in connecting brands with consumers on a profound level.

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Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Kenya’s Dr Hanningtone Gaya, holds a PhD in Commerce in Business Management from Nelson Mandela University (NMU), is viewed as an authority in country branding and is the founder chairman of the Brand Kenya Board.

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