Sibongile Gangxa is a researcher, policy academic, and an executive radio producer at a commercial talk radio station. She leads a team of young, hardworking producers who keep the nation talking around the clock on all things current affairs, development, governance, economics, personal and professional development.
That’s not all… She also runs a small enterprise, Ciko Story Concepts, offering research and creative content solutions.
How does she do it? Here, she passes on pearls of personal and career wisdom to GH writer Ondela Mlandu…
Insider tips on getting into the media space
“I’m a big believer in formal education with a dash of street-smarts. The media space, although predominantly a journalism environment, requires a diverse set of skills and knowledge disciplines. So I’d say get a qualification and see how you can add value in media through your area of interest,” says Sibongile.
Do your research! Explore all the career options in the media space, from current affairs and lifestyle content producing technical production and copywriting right through to the sales environment – creating exciting content solutions for clients that can find expression on the radio through campaigns, advertisements and editorials.
Be proactive too. Send emails to programming managers for internship and/or stand-in opportunities, and share your ideas and how they can add value to a space. Be relentless.
These are the key radio opportunities to look out for…
There are a few internship programmes suitable for graduates, such as Gauteng youth radio station YFM’s Y-Academy, which launched Sibongile’s career in radio back in 2011. “The programme offers a 360 approach to radio training, equipping you with a variety of skills and knowledge of the entire radio value chain. Other radio stations offer similar programmes, so be on the lookout – call the station reception desks, and keep tabs on their website and social media pages for opportunities,” says Sibongile.
What about gender issues in the radio space?
“The radio space is still largely run by men and gender biases find expression in how and where women are structurally located to power,” she says. “In the context of radio, you’ll find newsrooms full of women running news desks, producing in small booths and co-hosting alongside men,” she says.
Although these are critical roles that keep the radio ‘engine’ running, Sibongile says the sense of trust placed on women to take on the ‘thankless’ jobs isn’t consistent. “We’ve relegated them to being the ‘runners’, not necessarily the ‘thinkers’. The boardrooms where decisions are made, where strategy is designed and money is being made – women don’t enjoy that kind of representation,” she adds.
Leadership lessons 101
- Perfection is not something to be pursued.
- You don’t have to have it together, have it figured out or betray yourself trying to fit into strange moulds.
- You’re most influential, approachable, relatable and most respectable when you are yourself.
- You are neither above nor below anyone – you simply are and this will take you places and sustain you.
Why knowing yourself is so important, according to Sibongile…
- Know yourself. Like REALLY know yourself. What moves you and why does it move you? Then begin to carve your body of work around those pressure points that make your spirit come alive. Do the inward work and heal if you must, but be patient with yourself and trust the process. You can’t give people what you don’t have so invest in your personal growth.
- Leadership is so much easier when you’re at peace with your flaws, unapologetic about your strengths and simply relatable. This generation needs vulnerable leaders, leaders who have a story, who believe in something – authentic and organic leadership.
- It’s critical that we become the leaders who don’t get drunk on power and the idea of the privileges that come with it. Rather, I think we need to be responsible when we get the seat at the table and make it count. We can’t leave our activism at the boardroom door; rather, we need to truly embody representation in our language, in the things we bring to the agenda and in our allyship.
- Leadership comes with great responsibility and the opportunity to accentuate the voice of those who don’t have the privilege to take up space. Ours is to exercise our agency in positive ways and should be reflected in our decision-making and how those we lead experience the environment, through mindful and human-centric approaches to the world of work.
- Lastly, read! Read! Read! I can’t emphasise this enough. Reading builds confidence, ignites creativity, refines your ability to shape ideas, and emboldens you to pursue your highest expression of self – authentically and unapologetically. The ripple effect of this is mind-blowing. It’s infectious, and before you know it, leadership has transcended titles and corner offices and everyone is leading, despite the position they hold.
A book every woman should read…
“I would say Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. The story is characterised by insecurity, fear and reluctance and how she took on the brave challenge to say yes to herself – to stop hiding behind those meaty Greys Anatomy and Scandal storylines’ triggered something in me – being the introvert-extrovert, too comfortable with being the underdog, being inconspicuous but bursting at the seams with perspective and brilliance,” says Sibongile.
Sibongile feels that young women need these positive references – women who aren’t afraid to share their dark secrets, their insecurities, women who share generously on how they too grapple with these deep-seated issues and how they fight for themselves by approving, celebrating and cheering for themselves first instead of expecting external validations, which are often fleeting and fickle.
“The world is afraid of women who’ve broken free from these toxic patterns and perceptions of self-worth and we need to make it uncomfortable with an elevated sense of self-knowledge and self-authoring by constantly choosing ourselves and saying ‘Yes!’ – to ourselves, always and all ways,” she adds.
On the radar…
I’m also in the process of refining my baby, which I hope will ultimately become a significant reference to my life’s work. Safe Space seeks to offer a variety of products, services and experiences centred around the use of content, language and vulnerability to reimagine healing.