This week Jambo Africa Online’s Publisher, SAUL MOLOBI, profiles an emerging marketing thought-leader, ROSE CHUENE, as part of our Youth Month celebrations in South Africa…

The title of this article is borrowed from a poem by Tupac Shakur  (1971-1996), a legendary African-American rapper, poet, actor and cultural activist. This poem celebrates the power of dreams and determination to rise above struggle and neglect. This should surely serve as the national anthem of the Generation Z – that is, those born between 1995 and 2012, meaning their ages range between 10 and 27. This group of young people is an interesting one. Although in South Africa we refer to them as the “born frees” as they were born after 1994 when the country became liberated and they did not directly experience the oppressive system of apartheid and racial segregation that their parents and grandparents endured, besides being exposed to social media they simultaneously became the first population to cope with cyber-bullying and other internet related issues. What’s worse for them is that during this time there was a resurgence of school-related violence and other malfeasance. 

While their predecessors (Millennials – those born between 1980 and 1994) were described as the “lost generation” for having sacrificed their education for the national liberation struggle, this generation is also experiencing an acute education crisis. Of those 1 074 888 registered for Grade 1 in 2012, only 580 555 of them passed Grade 12 in 2022 – a 54% pass rate and not the 81% that government propagated. 

Furthermore, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) has reported that 80% of Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning, Grade 5s have numeracy skills for Grade 3 level; while the National Planning Commission (NPC) has found a 40% drop out rate between Grades 10 and 12. Even scarier, only 7% of those matriculants proceeding to the university manage to finish their three-year degrees in five years.

A gloom and doom picture? Absolutely! 

But there are exceptions, and the sassy Rose Chuene is one of them. At 26 years old, Rose is a striking beauty with a smile that radiates warmth and intelligence. She possesses an unwavering determination and a fiery passion for marketing, which make her stand out in her field. Rose is a living proof that the youth of her generation are far from being a lost generation; rather, they are vibrant, innovative and eager to make their mark on the world.

“I am a confident, articulate and determined Product Manager on an account of one of the world’s biggest mobile communications companies,” Rose says with wry smile while oozing generous doses of energy and chutzpah. “I have experience of being involved in a wide range of marketing and brand activities across both traditional and digital channels. I enjoy taking on responsibility and has a willpower needed to drive performance targets to completion. I possess bias for action and has a vision, focus and ability to translate a plan into action, at the same time as having a sense of calm urgency.

“My key strengths include dealing with all customers in a professional and polite manner, implementing marketing and sales activities and being able to adhere to moving deadlines. I currently work as a Product Manager with focus business unit administration, execution, reporting and product management.”

A product manager in the telecom industry is responsible for defining and executing the product strategy, managing the product lifecycle, collaborating with cross-functional teams, and ensuring the successful launch and performance of telecom products and services.

“I am a result-orientated individual that works well in leading teams through motivational coaching and mentoring coupled with a collaborative approach through effective communication. As a result, I have been nominated a best junior product manager of the month.”

After matriculating in 2014, she acquired a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree majoring in Marketing Management from the Pearson Institute in record time in 2017. Same year, she also acquired a People Time Management Certificate. In 2021 we added another further by usurping Project Management Certificate. Clearly believing in the principle of life-long learning, she’s now pursuing a Management Development Program (MDP). My hard work and resilience made me to complete my first degree on a record time with distinctions,” she asserts matter-of-factly.

She joined the world of work in 2016 at Massmart Walmart as a field researcher, which was followed by a marketing internship stint at Accsys a year later. The internship equipped her to get a job as a Brand and Marketing Assistant at Pinnacle’s Huawei account from 2018. From July 2019 she was promoted to become a Product Manager, a position she occupies to this day.

My job specification is quite exciting as it demands full commitment to diligence. The tasks include the following:

• Collaborating with product team to define the product vision and develop the marketing plan.

• Building a strategic product roadmap that fits in with the overall strategy of the department and company.

• Business strategy development execution; by increasing customer courage and increasing vendor product coverage for vendor.

• Development partners grow sales and presales resources of partner.

• Define and document a development plan with each partner and focus on the execution.

• Working with Business unit managers to deliver quality features and products within the expected timeline.

• Setting the objectives and key results to collect customer’s feedback.

• Developing and designing marketing collaterals (Brochures, Social media mailers, adverts)

• Alignment of vendor resources to partner.

• Training on vendor sales tools, processes and systems.

• Tmeous and accurate placement of orders and quotes.

• Engaging with Partners where necessary to modify products.

“I feel privileged to work on the Huawei brand since it is a renowned global technology brand known for its innovation and cutting-edge products,” Rose says with a tinge of pride. “I believe I’m thriving in this role, combining my creative mindset with my strategic thinking to create impactful marketing campaigns that resonates with the target audience.”

Rose sees herself as a representative of the youth entering the marketing profession. She understands the significance of embracing new ideas, technologies and trends, and she makes it her mission to bring fresh perspectives to the table. 

The world of ICT (Information Communications Technology) is large, exciting and offers a broad range of careers. A career in ICT provides incredible opportunities to both men and women. Indeed, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is on everyone’s lips – particularly the youth. “There are many careers in highly technical areas of networking and telecoms through software engineering, enterprise architecture, application development to information security, business analysis and project knowledge management as well as artificial intelligence and robotics. 

“In addition, there are many vendor specific training courses leading to a well-recognised ICT certification. As a Product manager I have obtained the Huawei Certificates in IP networking sales, presales and post sales.

“The youth should be encouraged to enter this sector. So, I often encourage and advise university students to make a thorough research and choose degree programme leading to careers in the ICT sector.”

Rose passionately speaks about her journey, emphasising the importance of perseverance, continuous learning, and embracing change. She debunks the myth that youths are a lost generation, showcasing her own accomplishments as evidence of the immense potential that lie within her peers.

Rose’s story is an inspiration to many aspiring marketers across the country. She demonstrates that age is not a limitation when it comes to success, and that determination and passion could pave the way to a bright future. Her success and her contributions to the field of marketing propels her into the spotlight, making her a role model for young professionals in South Africa.

There’s an adage that says all work with no play make Jack a dull boy, what about Rose. “Although I’m focused and work diligently,” she says with her face brimming with a toothpaste smile. “ I do go out once in a while to the movies, theatre and also do honour invites.”

Rose is a beacon of hope for the youth of South Africa, disproving the notion of a lost generation. She shows that with talent, drive and a commitment to personal growth, young individuals like herself could excel and make a lasting impact in their chosen fields. Her story is a testament to the power of youth and a reminder that the future is bright for those who dare to dream and work towards their goals.