She adds that, while Zanusi’s contract with the Joburg Arts Alive International Festival has come to an end, she continues to be approached by artists and suppliers, who she assists wherever possible.
Wickins has never looked back since being approached in 2003 by Nomahlubi Simamane, the chief executive officer at Zanusi Brand Solutions when Zanusi won the three-year Arts Alive contract. She ran with the mandate and saw the project to its successful completion. When Zanusi got the opportunity to work on the contract again for the period 2009 to 2011, she did not disappoint.While the Arts Alive Festival contract may have terminated, Wickins and Zanusi Brand Solutions have not been idle. In the brand marketing and communications space, she says, there are jobs in the pipeline largely owing to the fact that Zanusi fosters relationships with long-term clients while simultaneously anticipating renewed contracts.
Wickins is also passionate about her motherland and laments the education and training budget cuts, as well as the loss of skilled professionals to overseas countries across many disciplines – medical, legal and accounting, among others, which makes skills shortage a concern.
Ever the optimist, Wickins is not deterred by the gloom that is seemingly all around and opines that South African business should examine how local companies can leverage on, and benefit from, the growth of the ‘rich’ continent. “South Africa and our people understand Africa, where countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, Angola and Tanzania are experiencing growth. We need to leverage on our market-leading position in Africa in order to benefit from this growth,” she states. She explains, further, that South Africans should not be content with their mainstream forms of income generation, but look to alternative ways to boost revenue and meet commitments, especially in such tough economic times.
It is to the country’s advantage that South Africa has incredible raw and professional talent says Wickins. Working in a dynamic arts industry has made her mindful of the need to learn to understand the diversity and complexity of people’s needs. She continuously engages with various individuals who are striving to empower and uplift those in less fortunate positions.
Wickins mentions that, while every day brings with it new challenges and lessons, she endeavours to embrace these in order to create a unique and memorable experience with the various projects. She adds that, at present, one of the corporate social investment initiatives in which she is active is the South African Mzansi Ballet, where she assists in raising sponsorships. Wickins acknowledges the need to mentor and empower individuals to believe in themselves and their capabilities. “I have been blessed with a strong faith which translates into belief in people and a positive outlook on life. By assisting individuals in opening up and creating channels, they can rise above their disadvantaged circumstances and embrace any opportunities that come their way.
That is my next big goal,” she notes, adding that she always keeps an eye open for ways to find work opportunities for artists and suppliers who approach her.In her mentoring spheres, Wickins has remained in contact with Janet Landey, the architect and mentor of the Skills Village 2030 and president of the International Festivals and Events Association Africa. “My interaction with the Skills Village at various levels has enabled me to participate in the Youth Ina City Programme, in which individuals acquire skills in the performing arts, catering and baking. This, in turn, offers them exposure and empowers them to have control of their own lives,” she reveals.As busy as her schedule is, Wickins points out that it should not be all work and no play, as relaxation is the very fuel needed by the body.
In creating the essential work–life balance, she travels with her husband to spend time with their children and grandchildren who live abroad. Being in the arts industry, it is inevitable that she is a keen host of functions and enjoys spending time with friends. She adds that it is her husband who she looks up to as a role model, for he is gracious, humble, patient, and generous, and is always available to share his knowledge and opinions. “Society also needs people of Desmond Tutu’s calibre, who lives out his Christian principles and is not afraid to voice his opinion.
”South Africa has no shortage of challenges which can be improved by good leadership and hard work. We can all make a difference, as it is about taking pride in our country and making caring our personal responsibility. “In order to achieve success, it is imperative that we work as a team, for success on one’s own is hollow. At Zanusi, we know the value of teamwork and our success is due to the commitment and dedication of the staff, such that, when a job needs to be done, it is ‘all hands on deck,” she states.It has been a road well-travelled for Wickins, a road where successes by far outweigh the challenges. She is confident about the future, which, for her, looks bright and can only get brighter.
With the Arts Alive mandate as the springboard to gaining exposure to the many diverse art forms which are still fresh in the minds of Zanusi, it is hoped that its horizons will keep expanding to embrace the dynamic challenges that an equally dynamic industry brings.
Leveraging on Africa's Growth
A love of the arts and a passion for creativity spurred Madeleine Wickins to bury herself deep in the arts industry. Since her interaction with CEO magazine in 2012, the same fire and passion still drive her to move beyond her own targets.
Wickins, the project director at Zanusi Brand Solutions, says her job is made easier by a sociable personality, as she loves interacting with people across all levels. “The opportunity to interact with people grew as I became increasingly involved in dealing with local and international artists. The Arts Alive mandate provided a springboard to gain exposure to all the various art forms, including music, theatre, dance, comedy, poetry, film, visual arts and creative design,” she reveals.