The Marketing Achievement Awards Announces Finalists for Marketer of the Year Award 2020/21

Tuesday 2 March 2021, JOHANNESBURG — The Marketing Achievement Awards (MAAs) is excited to announce the finalists for the 2020/21 Marketer of the Year Award. This accolade celebrates those marketers who best exemplify the art and science of marketing, who have the business, brand, and category interest at heart, and have leveraged their skills to grow all three.

The MAA honours those who have demonstrated their ability to intersect data, strategy, creativity, and technology to deliver incredible results. The individuals who have promoted the value of marketing in driving strategy and business growth and propelled constant improvements within the discipline.


In search of the best candidates

The search for Marketer of the Year candidates involves a stringent process, beginning with inviting all marketers, entrepreneurs, and organisations from around South Africa to nominate their peers. Eligible suggestions are also put forward for consideration by the Marketing Association of South Africa (MASA) and the Marketing Awards Council (MAC).

Successful candidates proceed through the first qualifying round if they meet strict requirements, including possessing a minimum of eight years’ experience as a marketing leader and two years tenure in their current position at the time of entry. Thereafter, candidates must demonstrate their proven track record across five key pillars, including leadership, business and brand growth, modern marketing, internal culture, and broad-based black economic empowerment.

Ultimately, it comes down to an adjudication committee, chaired by the indomitable Dr Doug Mattheus, CEO of Doug M Consulting. This diverse panel is made up of highly experienced marketing professionals and industry experts who rigorously sift through written submissions and in-depth interviews with the nominees, their colleagues, partners, and superiors to select the finalists.


This Year’s Marketer of the Year Finalists

Every ounce of effort has been worth it. The MAAs are thrilled to announce that there are five remarkable individuals from whom the committee has the unenviable task of selecting the winner. In no particular order, these are the marketing luminaries who have been selected as finalists for the Marketer of the Year.

2021 MAA Marketer of the Year Finalists

2021 MAA Marketer of the Year Finalists

Khensani Nobanda, Group Executive for Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Nedbank.

Khensani’s marketing career spans 20 years, during which time she has worked for a number of well-known local and multinational organisations. Her journey started at Unilever as a brand assistant for Rama, working her way up to overseeing the entire Skin Category for Unilever in Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey. She then moved on to new challenges in senior leadership roles at Diageo, South African Breweries, and Vodacom before joining Nedbank in 2017. Now in her role as Group Executive for Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Khensani continues to demonstrate her limitless passion for brands that are purpose-led and truly embody that purpose in everything that they do.

Heidi Brauer, Chief Marketing Officer at Hollard.

Heidi is known for many things. She is a passionate South African, wife, mother, voracious reader, collaborator, and lover of change. Her career is a testimony to these passions, including such highlights as co-creating SLOW lounges,’s world-famous Soccer World Cup campaign, and fulfilling the role of partner, Deputy CEO and Marketing Director at Ipsos Markinor. She has also served as a board member and Deputy Chair of the Marketing Association of South Africa, and is well known as a reputable judge in awards circles, having judged the ACA’s APEX Awards, The Loeriestm, and many more. In her current position as CMO at Hollard Insurance, Heidi oversees global Group brand activities, including marketing, sponsorship and PR, and internal communications and culture. She is famous for her “sprinkles & chocolate cake” metaphors, through which her love for attention to detail and layering things so they are unreplicable is widely known.

Doug Place, Chief Marketing Officer at Nando’s.

Doug is the Chief Marketing Officer of Nando’s Africa, Middle East, and South Asia. Prior to Nando’s Doug held the position of Marketing Executive of Ster-Kinekor Theatres. He has received more than 100 international and national marketing and advertising awards including 3 Loeries Grand Prix awards. In 2019 Doug was named the most admired Marketing professional in South Africa in the Scopen report, and Nando’s the most admired brand. In 2018 Doug was awarded the Marketing & Innovation Award at The Loeriestm.  Destiny Man Magazine rated him as one of South Africa’s ‘Young and Powerful’ industry leaders in 2015 and in 2014 he was named one of the “Top 40 Under 40” South African media personnel by The Media publication.   He is a public speaker and guest lectures at various universities and also serves as a judge on a variety of marketing and advertising award panels. Doug is a Wits graduate and holds a B.Com B.Com Honours Degree (cum laude), and was the top graduate student in both Marketing and across all disciplines in the business school. He is also a registered Chartered Marketer (CMSA), sits on the Professional Designations Board (PDB) and is a board member of MASA.

Thulani Sibeko, Chief Brand & Marketing Officer at the Standard Bank Group

Born and raised in Soweto, Thulani is a collaborative, strategic, and assertive business leader whose career spans more than 25 years across multiple industries. During this time, he has held senior positions at many of the world’s most loved companies or brands, including Gillette, Polaroid, Procter & Gamble, Vodacom, Hollard Insurance, and Nedbank. In 2018 he joined the Standard Bank Group where he is now the Chief Brand & Marketing Officer. In this office, Thulani has led both the marketing and communication functions across 20 countries and has been integral in the Group’s new brand transformation which saw the brand move from the tag line, “Moving Forward” to “It Can Be” in a bid to become bolder, more inventive, and more empathetic.

Bernice Samuels, Group Executive – Marketing at MTN

As a strong believer in the transformative role of brands in generating customer and company value, Bernice has used this passion to help companies achieve brand leadership, customer advocacy, and commercial returns. She is a consummate brand and marketing professional with over two decades of experience in the intricacies of brand development and go-to-market strategy. Currently, Bernice serves as the Group Marketing Executive at MTN Group, overseeing the marketing activities across the MTN operating footprint of 20 markets in Africa and the Middle East. Her insights, exceptional marketing achievements, and track record of excellent execution over the past 20 years were recognised with a FinancialMail Adfocus Lifetime Achiever Award which she received in 2020.

“The committee has identified some incredibly talented strategic marketers this year and it will undoubtedly be a difficult task to select the winner of the Marketer of the Year award. This individual will be someone who works with their team, has risen to the challenge to collaboratively deliver excellent business results that impact the bottom line and inspired their organisation to utilise marketing to its fullest potential thereby affirming the wisdom of having marketers assume their well-deserved seat at the Boardroom table.”
says Brian Yuyi, CEO of MASA.

An ultimate luxury experience for the winner

The Marketer of the Year will be treated to a trip on The Blue Train, where they and a partner can expect to be indulged in 5-Star, spectacular luxury valued at  R46 170.00. The prize includes:

  • 2-day, 2 night trip from Pretoria to Cape Town (or vice versa);
  • De Luxe Suite (for them and a partner);
  • All meals and drinks (including cognac’s and Cuban cigars);
  • 24-Hour Butler Service and;
  • A 2-hour off-the-train excursion at the Kimberly Mine Museum


This year’s Awards ceremony is taking place on 31 March 2021, so make sure to keep an eye on your email and our social media platforms for further details.

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