depo 25 bonus 25 gacor Exclusive Chat with Madelain Roscher, MD PR Worx
Tuesday, September 19

Madelain Roscher, described as a Public Relations (PR) guru by her peers, is the Managing Director of PR Worx, a full-service marketing communications agency, which she established in 2001. With 22 years’ in-depth industry experience based on an impressive consulting and corporate career, the firm has achieved remarkable successes under her leadership.

Notably, PR Worx is the highest awarded public relations firm in Africa having been honoured as the best in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, South Africa and Africa awards for nine consecutive years.

Madelain Roscher, MD PR Worx

Madelain also won the 2019 Africa Women Leader Award by the World Women Leadership Congress and Awards, 2017 Woman of the Year: Media category; the Most Influential Women in Business award; was recognised as the Most Admired PR Professional in South Africa; and was the first person to receive the Public Relations Institute of SA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

​Her knowledge of the sector and developing commercial strategies that are impactful and that generate a maximum measurable return on investment for her clients, are some of her strongest service offerings.

Her responsibilities include strategic business development for her own firm and that of PR Worx’s blue-chip client portfolio.

Benito Mamaile: It is with great pleasure to feature you on our ever growing digital magazine, I’m just going to get right into it;

Who is Madelain Roscher? Please share with us about your upbringing and your early years in life?

Unlike what many people expect from a successful white entrepreneur, my story did not start out with a rosy childhood where everything was handed to me. At age 11, I went to the sea for the first time, thanks to the Star Seaside Children’s Charity Fund. I was beyond excited and this trip truly rocked my world. Three days before I was due to come back, my father had passed away.

Not only did my life suddenly change, but obviously my family’s circumstances were impacted. I was the youngest of four children and my mom had never worked in her life. My dad was previously the breadwinner and all of a sudden my mom had to deal with the grief of losing a husband after 25 years and keep her family afloat.

She got a job as a cashier at a TAB horse betting and did her utmost to keep us fed and clothed. We had a roof over our head, we lived in a council house in the South of Johannesburg, and we had food every night – even if it was only cabbage for nights on end because she couldn’t afford anything else.

At that young age, my mom constantly reiterated that life would be better than this, we just needed to believe it and work hard to make a change.

At the age of 11, I applied for my first job as a car washer at the James Hall Transportation Museum because I was convinced my mom wouldn’t survive. Little did I realise that my mom would teach me some of the greatest business and personal lessons on survival. One of the most important lessons she taught me was to want more, to want better. To never have to serve my family cabbage out of necessity.

I worked in a supermarket for a while but got my first “real” job at the age of 15. I worked at Teljoy in Claim Street as a cashier on weekends and during school holidays. They were convinced I was 16. I worked there on and off for about two years until a car bomb in Quartz Street literally blew the building up and I had no workplace any more. I was busy cashing up when the bomb exploded, the windows shattered on impact and money flew everywhere. I remember, frantically running around – not to check that my colleagues were fine but to pick up all the money that I was responsible for. With my knees bleeding profusely, my very colourful colleague shouted at me to leave the money and to get to back for safety. I refused until my job was done.

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This work ethic was instilled by mom, who had taught us that the job was only done, when it was successfully completed.

I met the love of my life at 16 and by 18 we were married and had our son, two and a half years later our daughter arrived. We’ve just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary two weeks ago, and while we’ve had our ups and downs, Neil has been my rock. I also have two incredible grandsons of 6 and 8 who live with us on a full time basis so it’s like motherhood all over again.

I share this with you because throughout my life I have been presented with choices of, due to various circumstances, “do I settle or do I want more?”

And while the answer may seem immediately certain for some of you, for the rest there is always a bit of uncertainty when asked this question. For some reason, we are raised to believe that there is a glass ceiling preventing us from making the sky the limit. Either you are told you can’t do something because you don’t have the correct skillset, you don’t have enough experience….or my favourite…you can’t because you are a woman.

After a successful career working for both PriceWaterhouseCoopers and as South African Airways’ (SAA) Spokesperson for Worldwide Communications, I knew I wanted to be able to make my own decisions, smash my own goals and make a real difference in the world. Quite simply put, I wanted more so I started up my own Public Relations company called PR Worx.

Wanting more is never a bad thing unless you want more out of greed or pride. I have learnt that being humble in your successes will always get you further.

With over 25 years of success in a broad spectrum of companies, many in which some would likely call a male dominated business world. I counsel multiple presidents on their political journeys, engage with international and local blue-chip companies and run the most awarded PR and communications agency on the continent. Why? Because I never let fear dictate my next move and I don’t settle.

Even at a young age, I knew I wanted to do things that made a difference. And as the country progressed, I knew it would become increasingly harder to stay at the forefront. So instead of competing against the talent, I began to acquire them. Eventually extending my own company to whole new divisions as to increase our service offerings.

In my many years of business I have learned one thing, your team needs to be so great, that people never know who the boss is. A strong team who is invested in the success of your company is imperative. If someone is just there for the salary or to watch the time tick by, you will get average performance out of them.

With hard work and increased success, comes just as many challenges. The most impactful lessons have come from my biggest failures. My creative director constantly jokes that when something goes wrong, I have an arsenal of back-up plans ready to go as if I can see into the future.

In today’s fast paced world, business cannot stop while we are trying to figure out what to do next, prepare yourself mentally and practically for anything that could go wrong and how you would deal with it.

BM: Tell us more about what you have studied for and the experience you’ve accomplished as a result.

Madelain: As I mentioned above, I started working from a really young age so that I could help my family. I studied part time while working, and my first job as a marketing assistant at Ster-Kinekor at 18 – not as an usher like everybody thought.

From there I joined PriceWaterhouseCoopers as their national PR manager, who paid for me to study at Damelin part time to earn my PR diploma. When I moved to SAA as their global spokesperson and head of worldwide communications, they gave me a bursary to study through the IMM. I also have a qualification in journalism from the London School of Journalism.

BM: One question that our readers are keen to hear more about: PR Worx, tell us about its background, detail service offering and what it has achieved over the years under your leadership.

Madelain: PR Worx is a full-service marketing-communications agency, which I established in 2001 after I left SAA, and the firm has achieved remarkable successes under my leadership. The firm now has a footprint across 25 different African countries to ensure we’re able to help our clients with their Pan-African communications needs.

Notably, PR Worx is the highest awarded public relations firm in Africa having been honoured as the best in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, South Africa and Africa awards for nine consecutive years.

I also won the 2019 Africa Women Leader Award by the World Women Leadership Congress, 2017 Woman of the Year: Media category; the Most Influential Women in Business award; was recognised as the Most Admired PR Professional in South Africa; and was the first person to receive the Public Relations Institute of SA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

My team’s knowledge of the sector and developing commercial strategies that are impactful and that generate a maximum measurable return on investment for clients, are some of our strongest service offerings.

With a present and past client base that spans SMEs, corporates, Pan-African blue-chip companies and multinational corporations, PR Worx services a broad range of industries and sectors.

BM: What do you look for in an employee?

Madelain: I know it is often said that one of the most important things is that they fit into the company culture! We look for enthusiasm, passion and a drive to succeed. From that we can develop the talent that PR Worx is known for.

BM: With a number of PR companies in Gauteng, how do you handle the competition and what is unique PR Worx?

Madelain: There’s competition? But no, seriously, there’s competition?

I’m joking, competition is a good thing as it forces us to up our game and always stay abreast of trends and technology, and to be the best at what we do. As the highest awarded PR agency in Africa, the ultimate victory in competition is knowing that you have delivered over and above your best.

BM: Does your company help the community where it is located?

Madelain: Yes, we do, I have a great love for empowering the women and girls in our community and to help them learn to value themselves. The only way we can uplift the lot of all women is by collaborating and working together.

Empowering women is not about challenging men. It’s about recognising that there are many things in life which women do differently to men, and we need to capitalise on those strengths to encourage others.

BM: How do you ensure your organization and its activities are aligned with your core values?

Madelain: Every single day we have a stand up meeting where we go through the day’s to do list and remind everyone of our company culture and what it means to be a part of team PR Worx. We find this open and transparent way of working, really encourages employees to shine in their own fields and also come alongside us in achieving our values and goals.

PR Worx’s 10 values include for instance honesty and integrity, care and respect, as well as transparent communications, which we hold ourselves accountable for and also remind our teams to do the same in their interactions amongst themselves and their clients.

PR Worx Team at PRISM Awards

PR Worx is the highest awarded public relations firm in Africa having been honoured as the best in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, South Africa and Africa awards for nine consecutive years.

BM: Can you please share with our readers of your prior successes, challenges, and major responsibilities?

Madelain: First of all, there are just as many lessons in failures as there in successes. Just because you failed at something, doesn’t mean that it was a waste of time. Any failure should be analysed, scrutinised and worked on to see what went wrong and how you will change the outcome next time. Notice I used the word ‘will’ and not ‘can’ – because some failures don’t simply happen by accident and you need to recognise and take ownership of your decisions so that you can turn those failures into successes. I wouldn’t be celebrating 18 years of PR Worx success if I had just let the failures dictate my life and not learn from them.

Equally so, there are lessons to be learnt from your successes. Congrats – you’ve done it! But now how do you keep on doing it? What was the x-factor that got you that account, the project win, that award? And how do you translate that across the board so you keep your successful momentum going.

Another important question to ask in successful times is how can I do better next time? Success is not an excuse to just sit on top of the mountain and revel in what you’ve achieved – it’s an opportunity to assess and grow so that you can climb even higher mountains and achieve even greater things.

It is also key to remember that success doesn’t guarantee that everything will be smooth sailing from here on out. Imagine waking up one day and your biggest client decides not to renew their contract – you have a full staff complement that relies on you in an already scarce job market and they have families to feed.

What do you do?

That’s when you gather every bit of power you have, rally your staff together and come up with plan B. if your team is solid enough to work together to succeed when it’s going well, you need to trust them to be strong enough to carry the momentum when a roadblock arises. Always have a contingency plan. Success comes in waves – as much as you have to prepare for the wins, you have to also prepare for the losses.

You are never going to escape the hardships but remember:

It is okay to want to expand your company, it is okay to want to pioneer a service – just be confident about it. Put on your red lipstick and step out as if you have been doing this for 50 years. Research your client, know exactly who they are and what their brand is before you even engage with them. Success is a series of brave single steps that lead you to your goal.

If people reject you, don’t take it personally. Use it as a steppingstone for growth. Even some of the greatest entrepreneurs have been rejected multiple times before finding someone who believed in them. As long as you make a positive impression on the prospect, you may be who they remember next time they are in the market for what you offer.

Never let someone try and convince you that your dream is too big. It may take you a few years to get to where you want to be but set goals for yourself. Once you reach them, set bigger ones.

Speaking of employees, remember that they are your best brand ambassadors. What they have to say about your company in their private lives, can speak volumes about your reputation in the public, as we all know someone who knows someone who knows someone. If you have an employee who is unhappy, find out why – is the reason personal or is it something that the company can attend to. There is no greater damage to a company’s reputation than an unhappy employee who trashes their employer to their friends and family, and in this day an age that trashing often extends to social media.

You don’t want to cultivate this positive company culture and strong brand around you, only to have one apple ruin it because they are feeling unfairly treated or aren’t getting what they need. Engage with your employees daily – not only will this make you a better boss and confidant to them, it’ll grow you as an individual as you learn to deal with different personalities.

Presentation is everything – no matter what you do, let everything about you show the level of professionalism you offer – from your outfit, to your corporate stationary, to your proposals. Consistency is key. Our business is all about reputation management, and it would do my company or clients no good if I allowed my staff to present themselves in jeans, takkies and dirty t-shirts. We have a strict dress code at the office that includes ladies wearing heels (even if they are kitten height) as well as makeup every day, men need to be suitably attired. And don’t be fooled, people take note. We often get compliments on the way our staff is dressed. A well dressed person also sets someone at ease, it gives off an air of confidence and communicates that ‘I know what I am doing’. Imagine if I showed up to a meeting with the CEO of Bidvest, Graeme Joffe, wearing a tracksuit and running shoes offering him elite communication services – I’m not even sure if he would even take my previously booked meeting.

However, if there is only one thing that you take away from what I’ve had to share, let it be this. Trust your gut feeling. I cannot stress this enough. If something bothers you, someone just doesn’t sit well, or the story doesn’t make sense, listen to your intuition, it will never steer you wrong.

BM: As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career?

Madelain: Women often say that it’s difficult to compete in male-dominated industries but it’s an excuse. Men owe women nothing. Not a seat at the table. Not a head start. Not sympathy. Nothing. Because, very often in the corporate arena, those who have assisted you in gaining leverage or progress tend to hold their contributions over your head like the Sword of Damocles.

All women want is a level playing field. Our strength, determination to succeed and intelligence will propel us into the greater heights we seek. We do not need a hand out.

Madelain Roscher, MD PR Worx

BM: When you began your career many years ago, did you ever imagine that you would be a leader in a male-dominated profession?

What are the challenges and stresses you face as a CEO?

Hiring people is a matter of intuition as I believe a person’s CV never tells the full story. I have made some amazing hires in my time, but also some that unfortunately and unexpectedly let me down.

As a CEO, you cannot get emotional about such decisions, but correct mistakes as quickly as possible. Rightsizing, or downsizing, is something that’s hard to avoid in this industry.

What advice do you have for young CEOs in terms of coping with the immense pressure and expectations that will be placed on them?

Madelain: Try to relax. If you’re so aware of that ‘immense pressure’ you may not succeed. Build a great team around you, trust them to run the business without you and develop a cooperative management style. If you don’t have a board or a mentor to bounce ideas off, it is only the toughest decisions you have to make alone – share the lesser ones.

The biggest mistake is to move into the top position and immediately assume you know everything and set about changing everything without knowledge.

BM: What’s Non-Negotiable for You?

Madelain: Lying. Public relations is not about spin doctoring, bending the truth or sweeping transgressions under a carpet. Our strategy always involves the telling of the truth, even with clients in crises. By handling a crisis honestly, meticulously and smartly, we can help soften the blow.

Together with recruiting good people, and having a solid plan attached to a vision for the firm, this is the activity which most ensures future success.

BM: What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a CEO?

Madelain: There is nothing more inspiring in life than helping a worthwhile junior to learn and advance. Therefore, I believe mentoring is the most satisfying aspect of being a CEO. It is not something I do on an organised basis, but an everyday, almost every-minute, activity.

Together with recruiting good people, and having a solid plan attached to a vision for the firm, this is the activity which most ensures future success.

BM: If you were to advise President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would be the key priorities you would recommend for dealing with poverty, unemployment and under development in South Africa?

Madelain: I was very excited when President Ramaphosa was appointed as president of South Africa, because as a successful global entrepreneur, I assumed that he would automatically manage our country as a business interest, that would:

• look after its people,

• take care of its business units’ profitability, • concentrate on its cash flow,

• assesses and evaluates risk, and

• manages potential.

If I could spend the day with him, I would reiterate that the only way to deal with poverty is through education, and through education, we would alleviate unemployment and under development. I also believe that President Ramaphosa needs to be more outspoken about the issues that concern the man in the street, including xenophobia, gender-based violence and crime in its totality in South Africa.

BM: Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?

Madelain: When I was at SAA, one of our senior Vice Presidents, Vincent Raseroka not only mentored me into one of the top positions, but also encouraged me to start up my own business. Not only did he offer me a safety net in terms of an investment in my business if I so required, but we do catch up several times a year where he either kicks my butt for not growing the business fast enough or commends me for the progress made. I still believe that he is the ideal man to run this country.

BM: How important is money and status to you, would you trade those off with happiness, a balanced life, job satisfaction and fulfillment and a sense of purpose?

I don’t see why I need to choose, you can truly have it all if you have the right support structures, mindset, goals and aspirations, as well as a team to back you up.

BM: How do you manage to keep the balance in your marriage, family, work and your managerial work?

Madelain: If you want to succeed in the business world, you need to also pay attention to your personal life. I constantly have to make sure that there is balance in my life. Overworking yourself and alienating your friends and family can lead to burnout both physically and mentally.

Children grow up so fast. Even though I am building a legacy for them while showing them the value of hard work and determination, I also want to be around for them to share that legacy. Every single day when I get home from work, before I delve into another work project, I make it priority to spend time with my kids asking them about their day at school, what they are busy with and anything else they want to speak about.

We also have dinner as a family every single night, before they go off to do their bedtime routine and I go back to checking mail. Once in bed, my attention then turns to my husband, as we enjoy some downtime with our favourite series. Unless there is an absolute crisis that cannot wait, I ensure that my family get 100% of dedicated attention each and every day.

BM: How has the spread of new technologies like the Internet, smartphones, and social media changed the landscape for leaders?

Madelain: Suddenly everyone is connected, you could share your thoughts with an audience of followers within 140 characters, send pictures of grumpy cats to all your friends, get your news, and basically offer an opinion on everything and everyone, even if you didn’t have all the facts.

BM: When faced with two great opportunities, how do you decide which one to go with?

Madelain: While you obviously need to weigh up the pros and cons of any decision through thorough research, I believe in trusting my gut feel (God instinct) to make the final call.

BM: If I were to call three people who have worked with you, how would they describe you?

Madelain: Bold, straightforward, strict but caring, compassionate. I was actually told this morning that I have a head for business and a heart for people, which I take as a massive compliment.

BM: When it’s all over, how do you want to be remembered?

Madelain: For making a difference in the lives of others, specifically our people on the African continent.


About Author

Benito Mamaile is the founder of Intellectual Media and Communications a business development and digital solutions firm for entrepreneurs, Chief Editor for National Business Xposure Digital Magazine. He's passionate about helping brands leverage content to share their stories with the world, he frequently cover the following topics; leadership, media, tech, entrepreneurship and business development trends.

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