While the increasing adoption by consumers of various digital platforms as a means to interact and engage with brands in a more personalised way and has promoted exponential growth and competition within the digital sector, there is still a marked shortage of females in the local digital space.
This is according to Deshnie Govender, Founder and Creative Director at iVent, a digital agency whose exciting approach to digital strategy conceptualisation and implementation is redefining the way organisations are growing their brands.
“Overall there are most certainly not enough females in the digital space locally anyway. When we walk into a room at an industry event or simply attend a pitch of look at the creative and strategic department of any agency, we are the minority. Stereotypes such as we are weak or too emotional are still at play.
“Furthermore, if you add in age to the mix having someone in his 40’s take strategic or creative direction from a female in her early 30’s can pose a challenge. It always seems that most of the females are in client service but most certainly not enough. And there are certainly not enough senior level women managing agencies and heading up creative departments,” she comments.
The daughter entrepreneurs in the entertainment and alcohol industry, Govender has not followed the conventional route to achieving entrepreneurial success, and she first became publically known as DJ Roxxi, the first Indian female club DJ in South Africa. And it was after using social media as a platform to get her music out in the public domain she decided to opt for a career in digital.
“Through using social media to get my music to my fans almost instantaneously and at no cost, I realised I was passionate about social media and influencer management and that they could potentially open up a multitude of potential career opportunities,” she says.
However, after having worked in the digital agency space for close to ten years and heading up social media departments, Govender soon became frustrated with lack of diversity at boardroom and at management level and the disengagement between her peers and agencies when approached to work on brand campaigns from an ambassador or influencer perspective.
“It was becoming apparent to me that as young black creatives (especially women) we were a minority in the boardroom and in management roles. Furthermore, I wanted and in fact needed to tell more authentic stories to shatter the typical stereotypes you see in the ad space.
“With my additional background in music, I would see the instant disconnect between my peers and agencies who viewed them only as influencers with mass reach and they were not being utilised for the creatives they actually are.
“Combining these two frustrations, I had a lot to vent resulting in me launching iVent Digital, a consultancy that focuses on content creation, social media management and also developing the digital footprint for the influencers on our books,” she explains.
While Govender admits going the entrepreneurial route was a big risk, in her mind she believes that if you risk nothing, then you risk everything. “I didn’t want to get settled into a routine or a comfort zone nor did I want to sit back and do nothing when I knew I could build a platform to help contribute to the transformation and change we are slowly seeing today.
“Tomorrow is not guaranteed but I am in a much better space now knowing that every day I am working hard to add my small bit to make our industry a better space for the young black female who wants to be a creative director someday,” she adds.
When it comes to advice for other aspiring female entrepreneurs, for Govender it comes down to never forgetting your passion and why you started doing what you do in the first place.
“There will be times where your dedication and focus will be challenged but you always need to keep your eye on the prize. It is also important to ensure you have a good support system in business whether it be mentors or industry peers. Ultimately however, it is having a good network that is key to supporting you in your journey as an entrepreneur,” she concludes.