Cape Town – Meet Shanaaz Nel who is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Media Host, the first female black-owned media monitoring and research company in South Africa.
Nel was appointed CEO in April and already she and her team are breaking new grounds.
She hopes to lead the company’s growth into the African media market through strategic partnerships.
“I am exceptionally excited about what this position holds for me. Media Host has been a market leader for decades. By partnering with global businesses like Adstream (now Extreme Reach), they have dominated the digital asset management market in South Africa and have expanded their footprint exponentially across Africa.
“By combining our products and services, we become a one-stop-shop for many media owners and consumers. I want to continue to steer the growth into the African media market through thoughtful partnerships and to become an industry titan in the Media Content Management Industry overall,” said Nel, with undeniable excitement.
With just a month into her new position, Media Host acquired Professional Evaluation and Research (Pear), which now operates as a subsidiary of Media Host. The company operates in 22 countries across Africa, monitoring 511 Radio stations, 406 TV channels and has access to over 3000 print publications across Africa.
Nel said the acquisition has solidified the company’s leadership in the field of marketing, advertising workflow and distribution solutions which provide their clients with a one-stop-shop to get the insights they need to manage their media.
“This merger allows us to be a one-stop media shop working together with content creators, distributors, rights holders, brand owners and influencers to efficiently interpret the data shared with customers to make faster, smarter and more impactful business decisions,” Nel told the African Insider.
Nel’s vision of a ‘daring African media landscape’
Media Host’s vision is to become a single source of truth in the media market, a partner that can be relied on to deliver products and services that meet the media needs of their clients.
“Our goal is to build a solid business foundation with a firm foot in key areas and markets. My focus is to build strategic relationships with various stakeholders, who share the same vision of a unique and daring African media landscape and believes in the value of understanding the complexity and nuances of the African Media Market,” she said
The woman behind the CEO
The mother of two, who completed her schooling and undergraduate degree at the Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg, from a very young age believed that “diligence and self-belief” are one’s greatest assets.
“However, I learned throughout my career and in personal life, that I am not an island, asking for help is necessary to learn and grow, and building relationships built on mutual understanding and trust goes much further toward achieving your goals in every aspect of your life,” said Nel.
Challenges along the way
Besides primary challenges faced by young entrepreneurs in gaining access to lending to build new businesses with limited resources, building a reputable business was especially challenging, she said.
“Often the assumption of black-owned small businesses coming to market was that the products and services offered in comparison to well-established companies in the industry offer subpar products and services. The negative perception that permeated the industry at a time is that young black business owners don’t always have the necessary skills or experience needed,” she explained.
“Today we are proud to work across various sectors including corporate, government and public relations, with some of the country’s industry leaders and influencers in a range of ways.”
CEO in the making
“My experience as a social activist has also grown my leadership capabilities and highlighted my understanding that a leader needs to not only contribute to the communities within which they work, but also be able to see the world from many perspectives.
“For my civil society and environmental activism contributions, I was recognised as one of South Africa’s Top 100 Young South Africans by the Mail & Guardian in 2014 and featured in African Leader several years ago, during my time with Greenpeace Africa,” she said.
Nel started her career journey as a senior media analyst for a Johannesburg-based media monitoring company.
“I served as a communications planner, as well as policy and campaigns project manager at ActionAid International; campaigner, head of programme function and policy advisor at Greenpeace; event arranger and SPR coordinator at the United Nation’s World Food Programme; and as a project manager and consultant at the Fight Inequality Alliance.
“My roles in the development sector had strong communications and media components, and I was able to understand what was necessary to drive a comprehensive communications strategy for a brand. This is what led me back into the media world,”
What inspires Nel?
“I am inspired by women who have marked the path in this industry. And, what keeps me going is the idea that as a black female leader, I am providing a platform for women that will follow. Also nurturing and fostering a person’s strengths, developing their business acumen, and seeing them blossom into future business leaders drives me. Currently, 85% of our employees are young black South Africans.”
Compiled by Olwethu Mpeshe