South African Tourism welcomes new CMO Margie Whitehouse
I consider it an absolute privilege. South Africa is a great passion of mine. – Margie Whitehouse, South African Tourism CMO
An experienced brand specialist (she says she ‘grew up in Unilever – a great brand finishing school’), Whitehouse has been consulting for the past few years, and working a little less than she will be in her new position at the helm of South African Tourism’s efforts to market the country domestically and internationally.
Whitehouse, who is a graduate of the University of Cape Town and an old girl of St Andrew’s School for Girls in Johannesburg, has a 16-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter, who, she laughs, ‘are big enough now to not want me around as much’.
She says of her new role: ‘I consider it an absolute privilege. South Africa is a great passion of mine.’
She adds, ‘I’ve been involved in South African government for some time.’ Whitehouse previously served on the Board of South African Airways and worked with the Department of Trade and Industry, helping set up its marketing environment.
She also worked in fashion for a number of years, and more recently with smaller and emerging brands. For example, she recently helped with the positioning of Soweto TV.
Another passion is golf, which she got involved in through her son, who has played golf for South Africa. ‘My family have always been golfers,’ she says, though claims she is no good herself (which is hard to believe). Whitehouse is chair of the Women’s Professional Golf Association in South Africa, where her focus has been on inspiring girls to play and excel at golf, and on corporate governance, which she’s also deeply interested in. All her involvement in golf is on a pro bono basis.
‘I’m passionate about South Africa at the end of the day,’ she says, and for her, being the chief marketing officer of South African Tourism ‘is a dream job’.
Now just a few days into her new job, she says, ‘I’m trying to take in as much as possible, spending time with my team and getting them to onboard me. One of the things I love is to build a team and that will be a big focus for me. One of the things about working on my own is I’ve missed having my own team – I’m a nurturer.’
She adds, ‘I don’t think corporate South Africa could have enticed me back. For me, what’s extra special about this position is the sense of purpose.’