Connect with us

Snapshots

Ster-Kinekor: Isabel Rao

Ster-Kinekor head says it’s vital to separate emotions from business

Monique Verduyn

Published

on

Isabel Rao

Isabel Rao always wanted to be in the movie business. After completing a BA in psychology and languages, she began her career in the entertainment industry by working at the SABC’s Foreign Service. Five years down the line she spotted an ad for a secretarial position with the general manager of Ster-Kinekor’s Gauteng region.

“It was the only job available in the organisation and even though I was over-qualified, I wanted to get my foot in the door.” She got the job, and her boss turned out to be a great mentor. Six months later, Rao was appointed regional marketing assistant.

Her work caught the attention of national marketing and she was offered a position at head office. The CEO at that time had a reputation for being hard to work with. “I went to see him and told him I would not accept the job if he was not comfortable with me because I did not want to be unhappy,” she says.

“We immediately had a rapport, so I accepted the position.” Ster-Kinekor then went through a restructuring phase and the business was divided into distribution and exhibition, or films and cinemas. Rao became marketing executive on the films side, the first woman in the organisation to be appointed to such a senior position.

“The appointment came as a surprise, and I knew there would be politics. But it gave me the opportunity to influence organisational policies and the industry in general.” In 2000 Rao became the CEO of Ster-Kinekor Distribution, bringing 20 years of film expertise to the position.

She is one of only a handful of women worldwide to be involved in this arena.  She attributes her success largely to her passion for the product. “I cannot remember a time when I did not love stories,” she says. “Films are the visual depiction of stories, which makes them even more exciting.”

Her second love is travel. “My job enables me to indulge interests I have had from childhood. If you hold onto your ambitions, you end up realising them at some point.”

Rao says she has an innate ability to retain film information because she has a desire to. “The more passion you have for what you do, the easier it is to learn about it. That is why I have found it easy to market films.” So is the film industry as romantic as people believe?

From her perspective, Rao says it’s important to separate emotions from business. “Films are about dreams. People believe in the romance, and they do not want to know what goes on behind the scenes. As consumers, that is their right.”

But there is a harsh business reality too. Rao says the local film industry in particular needs to understand that creativity alone does not deliver what people want to see. “When you work in film, your job is to deliver the romance, not to be romantic.”

Rao says she surrounds herself with excellent people, because a leader is only as good as their team. “I strive to have the best possible people in places where their strengths lie, and I empower them to make decisions. As a hands-on person, I had to learn to offer guidance without jumping in.

I know how I wanted to be treated when I was in marketing, so that’s how I deal with our executives now. It’s also important to keep in touch. People really are the most difficult factor in an organisation, and even the great ones need recognition, feedback, and assistance.”

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

Advertisement
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Snapshots

How Nic Haralambous Launched His 6 Year In The Making, Overnight Success

Nic Haralambous launched 8 failing businesses. He used the lessons learnt from that failure to ensure the success of his new business Nic Harry.

CEOwise

Published

on

By

ceowise-entrepreneur-magazine-thumbnail-designs-nic-haralambous

Nic Haralambous, the founder and CEO of Nic Harry who started off selling bamboo socks online and now has brick and mortar stores with a larger product range around the country. Nic has also written a book titled Do. Fail. Learn. Repeat. which is a brutally honest look at entrepreneurship and follows Nic’s entrepreneurial journey. Learn from his failures and how he used them as the foundation of his success.

Related: (Podcast) Speak More Honestly

Continue Reading

Snapshots

Vuyo Tofile Of EntBanc Group Talks About Finding Solutions And Partnering To Offer The Most Value

Vuyo Tofile offers his advice on how to know if you’re ready to scale and how to get it right the first time.

CEOwise

Published

on

By

ceowise-entrepreneur-magazine-thumbnail-designs-vuyo-tofile

Vuyo Tofile, CEO of EntBanc Group (Pty) Ltd, which is a privately held enterprise and financial technology group. They empower small businesses with the right tools including products such as mySMEtools, which is used by over 46 000 small businesses. Learn about partnering for success, develop tools and resources that your customer base needs, and how can you scale?

Related: Do You Have That 1 In 100 Business That Can Scale And Land An Investor?

Continue Reading

Snapshots

Eben Uys Shares His Concept Behind Mad Giant Brewery And How You Can Make Your Business Stand Out In A Crowd

“You just need to start” says Eben Uys, don’t make up excuses why you aren’t ready. Just start.

CEOwise

Published

on

By

ceowise-entrepreneur-magazine-thumbnail-designs-eben-uys

Eben Uys, Co-founder and CEO of Mad Giant, a Brewery in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa. Eben brings new life to craft beer and has made his brewery and restaurant Urbanologi, a destination hub. His advice: “You can do things that give you short-term gains, but it might not benefit you in the long term. Try a lot of things over a long period of time and build a reputation and a network.”

Related: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending