IMM alumna Kershnee Hermanus leads the Premium Marketing Team within the FNB Cash Investment Team. She first signed up for a digital marketing diploma in 2006. Studying part- time, balancing a career and distance learning, was not easy. But she persevered, achieving her diploma, and immediately going on to study for a BBA Degree in Marketing and finally graduating with a BPhil Honours in Marketing. Hermanus remained true to her goals and determined to achieve her dreams. In doing so, she has encouraged her sister and colleagues in the advertising and marketing sector to study at the IMM Graduate School. When they look at what she has achieved, they believe that it is no longer a dream and is in fact achievable. She tutors in the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing, Advanced Digital and Mobile Marketing, as well as Business-to-Business Marketing on a part-time basis to students at the IMM Graduate School Student Support Centre in Milpark.
What is the life quote you believe suits you best and why?
The quote that I believe that best suits me is ‘What you focus upon, expands’. I believe in directing my energies and focusing on the best outcome possible. I live by the belief that if you give yourself the opportunity to focus on the good, it will follow you.
You have just taken on a big role within the FNB Cash Investment Retail Team, a significant position no doubt. How has your expertise in digital marketing prepared you for this role?
FNB was recognised as the best digital bank in South Africa. Digital banking remains a core strategic pillar for the bank, both from an enablement and convenience perspective. Coming into this environment was initially intimidating as there is a great emphasis on convenience and enablement on a digital platform.
Thankfully my experience within digital marketing and exposure to social media, email and content marketing as well as SEO, and paid search has equipped me to stay relevant and contribute to understanding and interpreting the data in a meaningful way that helps to guide the business and its current marketing initiatives.
Why did you choose marketing as a career?
I started off as a PA to a managing director at Young & Rubicam. During this time, I was exposed to the world of advertising and marketing. At that point I had aspirations of joining the MTN retail team at Young & Rubicam and after a few interviews I was successful in finally joining the world of account management.
What would your advice be to someone starting out in marketing? Firstly, commit to a degree that has a good reputation and carries gravitas. Invest in a marketing qualification that is acknowledged and respected by the advertising and marketing fraternity, one that will separate you from a crowd of potential candidates.
Take the time you need to learn about the business you operate in, their competitors, the role you play, expectations of you, and how you will be positioned to impart value and ultimately grow their brand as well as yours. Use this opportunity as a stepping stone to bank knowledge and build relationships, and make sure you give more than what is expected.
Do you believe that certain people are cut out for marketing and others not, or can you learn your way into being an effective marketer?
Being a marketer is an incredibly rewarding career. It’s even more magical when you inherently embody the aptitude, technicality and personality. It’s a job that requires agile creativity, flexible thinking and the ability to manage diverse stakeholders by being respectful to different views and having the ability to consolidate and navigate technical discussions.
In addition, you invest daily in building relationships, creating buy-in, discussing ideas and concepts, and seeking balance between creative and functional approaches. It’s important that you feel a sense of attachment to the work you do. If you are passionate about building brands and relationships, you should consider marketing as a career.
Give us a brief outline of your marketing education and career journey?
I have over 16 years’ experience in advertising, marketing and brand management within the telecommunications and financial services sectors. I worked at leading advertising agencies in South Africa, namely Young & Rubicam Gitam/Wunderman, The Jupiter Drawing Room, and TBWA/Hunt Lascaris managing four of the Top 50 Brands (Brands Africa report 2014); MTN, Absa, FNB and Standard Bank.
I am currently employed at FNB, leading the premium marketing team within the cash investment retail team. We are responsible for the retail function of taking products to market and encouraging take up. Our job is to empower the premium segment by creating and executing micro strategies for the premier, private client and private wealth segments. I’m working on submitting an application for my Master’s.
What are the four most important lessons you learned on this journey?
To focus on the big dream. Remembering that dreams without goals are merely dreams. I created daily, weekly and monthly milestones to project manage my journey towards fulfilling my goals.
Being mindful that hard work, works! This journey has taught me that without commitment, I would have never started. More importantly, without discipline and consistency I would have never achieved. My advice is to keep working, keep striving. Never give up!
What does being an IMM Graduate School alumna offer you, and what do you offer the school?
What IMM offers me: Access to thought leaders and experts, special events and networking sessions, and learning resources/ platforms.
What I offer IMM: Part of the academic procession and a part time tutor at the Milpark Student Support Centre (SSC).
What devices/technology can you not live without?
I can’t live without my iPhone and my Apple Watch