GroupM And Wavemaker Cultivating Upcoming Media Specialists

Wanita Berry, Wavemaker’s head of human resources.

At the beginning of 2020, Wavemaker South Africa and its sister agencies partnered with Sivuka Consulting to develop a graduate programme aimed at turning interns into well-rounded media specialists.

The 12 month programme involves experts from established agencies such as Wavemaker, GroupM, MediaCom and Mindshare teaching graduates useful, practical lessons. It also incorporates a work-readiness component.

The Graduate Programme nurtures the next generation of media specialists. If young graduates are given the opportunity to put their theoretical training into practice, and are equipped with skills that prepare them for the workplace, they are more likely to succeed professionally.

Recruiting for success

The first step was accurately connecting the selected graduates with the right agencies. ‘Sivuka Consulting worked with the agencies’ various human resources teams to ensure that the graduates fit their specific needs and culture,’ explained Wanita Berry, Wavemaker’s head of human resources. Misaligning the two often leads to avoidable dropouts, and we wanted to give our graduates every chance of success.’

The interview process was rigorous as agencies looked for analytical, creative and curious learners who were passionate about learning and growing. ‘Our aim is to develop media specialists who have what it takes to understand our work and contribute effectively to what we offer our clients,’ said Berry. ‘We want to ensure that they are work-ready and to cultivate a hardworking, ready-to-take-on-any-challenge and keen-to-learn attitude.’

Transitioning to the working world

One of the graduates, Carla Pretorius, said that the first few months of the programme have been deeply enriching. ‘The structure of the programme has made the transition into the working environment much easier and less intimidating,’ she said.

While the programme was run in-person during the first few months of the year, it was inevitably affected by Covid-19 and was forced to move online. ‘Fortunately, teaching our graduates to be agile is a critical part of the process. When Covid-19 hit, we simply adapted and continued remotely,’ Berry said. This move has not affected the impact of working as part of a team. Pretorius added, ‘Even though we’re not together physically, working with my colleagues on real-life projects is helping me to pull together everything I have learned throughout the programme.’

Putting theory into practice

Graduate Navir Papa has relished in the opportunities the programme has afforded him. ‘I have learnt so many new skills, and I am so grateful to the members of the Wavemaker team who have shared their experiences and knowledge with me,’ he said.

Papa particularly enjoyed visiting the various media owners at the start of the programme, which gave him a deeper understanding of the industry. He also loved working on a pitch with the Wavemaker team. ‘It was so exciting to be part of that process,’ he said. ‘Helping on real client work has been a blessing to me.’

Another graduate, Ayanda Masemola, has been working with Wavemaker’s digital team for part of the course of the programme. ‘Working with this team kept me on my toes and taught me how important it is to pay attention to detail,’ she said. ‘And because digital is always changing, there’s always room for learning and growth.’

Making a difference

‘Working with Wavemaker is always such an invigorating experience,’ said Ashalia Maharajh, the Founder and Director of Sivuka Consulting. ‘It was amazing to witness the level of investment and open-mindedness with which the team took on this project. Their dedication to youth development is so obvious. Companies that are committed to the growth of young minds is what this country needs to help alleviate unemployment and effect change.’

Looking ahead, the aim is to evolve the programme’s content so that it is also suitable for more senior levels of staff. ‘We all need to continue learning, no matter where we’re at in our career,’ Berry explained, ‘Providing the mechanisms and resources for this learning to take place is how we guarantee the ongoing success and relevance of our team members, our agencies and our industry.’