Living the Brand
While it is not unheard of women to spend 20 or more years in one career field it is certainly less commonplace for such women to have been honoured by their peers for their professional achievements during their career.
Koo Govender, the Corporate Marketing and Communications Director at M-Net, is one of the few to enjoy this recognition and, sharing her success story, says it’s all about one’s attitude. “Always have a good attitude for it determines your altitude. My mantra is that life is not only about success but about significance and living your true potential,” says Koo. What has been her recipe for success?
“Be open to opportunities, and don’t be afraid to take risks, set goals for yourself and work hard to achieve them but, most importantly, never give up,” she advises. While the road to success will always have its fair share of travails, Koo stresses, “Keep your eyes fixed on your goal and you will get there”.
The more than two decades spent in the industry have come with many a career highlight. But Koo singles out, among many, the launching of M-Net’s Corporate Social Investment (CSI) brand, which, she shares, “Meant a lot to me on a personal and business level”. Another of Koo’s milestones has been the three year stint spent as the first chairperson of Promax Africa, a part of Promax which is the world’s premier body for promotion and marketing professionals working in electronic and broadcast media. That she was the first person and, a woman for that matter, is a feat on its own.
Worth noting is that, before the apex position, Koo had won numerous awards most notably the Loeries and the International Promax Awards. These are lifetime achievements, to which every professional aspires, yet Koo humbly comments: “It is always an honour to be recognised by your peers and be awarded for the good work. However, the awards I have are not about Koo the individual. Rather, they are a result of team work and raising the bar for your brand.”
With the Community at Heart
Some of the initiatives close to Koo’s heart, which have grown the M-Net brand, are the Carte Blanche Making A Difference Trust Fund and M-Net Cares. “These two initiatives focus on making a difference in communities where it’s needed most - in this way we create a visible difference that will last for a long time,” she says. Koo shares that the Carte Blanche Making A Difference Trust has facilitated the construction of a brand new, state-of-the-art paediatric health facility, the BHP Billiton Centre for Excellence at King Edward Hospital. “This is an incredible feat that will enable doctors to save the lives of many children in KwaZulu Natal in the future,” she says.
Koo further reveals that the current M-Net Cares strategy is to boost education in under privileged communities by giving children access to technology. In this regard, M-Net recently donated 20 computers to a school in Kagiso, Johannesburg, and is supporting an information and communications technology (ICT) learning centre in Mpumalanga. Having reached what many may perceive as the peak of success, Koo and M-Net have by no means stopped; they are determined to conquer new territories. But, Koo notes, any change and growth that occurs has to start on home soil. “M-Net is an ever evolving business which continues to bring the best entertainment possible to our audiences,” she observes.
A sneak peek into the future with M-Net reveals that there are exciting developments on the local production front. Among others, there are movies on AfricaMagic and MzansiMagic channels, South Africa Big Brother for MzansiMagic and kykNET. Fans of Survivor can look forward to yet another offering on M-Net channel 101. The newly launched channels are filled with equally great programming. M-Net has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, Koo elaborates. “M-Net has an extended footprint in Africa and we have created many channels and shows to speak to the needs of Africa’s diverse audiences. Our AfricaMagic brand is well-loved across the continent,” she enthuses.
Success on All Fronts
Undeniably, Koo lives the M-Net brand but she goes home every day to her family - a husband and two teenage sons. Interestingly, Koo’s marriage is about as old as her career - 20 years, which is evidence that Koo is successful on all fronts. To wind down, she plays golf and does some interior decorating. Koo is as people centred within the community as she is in her work environment. “As a regional pastor for the church, I also assist with church initiatives to help disadvantaged communities and orphans,” states Koo who adds that, ever the marketer, she lends a hand on marketing initiatives for the church.
Empowered to Empower
Having empowered herself, Koo says she is passionate about women empowerment in the workplace. To ensure this, Koo has mentored and coached many talented women and takes it a notch up by giving motivational talks on women empowerment and mentoring. ‘Been there and done it all’ is not a phrase in Koo’s vocabulary for new challenges beckon. “My next goal is to create a new career challenge for myself. I also want to lead a balanced life and spend more time with my family,” she contends, urging all South Africans to always strive to see how they can have a positive impact and make a difference in underprivileged communities.
It has been a personal and professional life with many highlights thus far, and a story worth telling. Koo is an inspiration to many women, particularly young executives, but she aims to exceed her own expectations and scale to greater heights. How will Koo achieve this? “I believe that one’s real purpose in life is to develop themselves in a holistic manner. To achieve this, and successfully so, one must always be working towards a goal,” she concludes.
NEWSLETTER | MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
by Valdi Pereira