Pat Dambe was raised and educated in Botswana, the USA and Canada, where she obtained a BA Honours degree at Queens University, Ontario. Her father was responsible for setting up the Botswanan Embassy in Washington, DC. On her return to SA in the 1990s, she worked with Vusi Khanyile, Chairman of Thebe Investment Corporation, to set up the country’s first black investment company.
At Thebe, she was more involve in the Media Division and was instrumental in the bidding and acquisition of the radio license for Kaya FM, of which she eventually became the Managing Director. After leaving the station, she became a significant player in the transformation of Draftfcb, urning it into one of the leading advertising agencies in the country. She also spent two years with Coca-Colo SA as Director of Public Affairs during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Her position at Forge – one of the black enterprise developments within Draftfcb – is no less demanding and a typical working day begins long before the company doors open. “I get up at about 4:30am to meditate, pray and exercise. I then answer emails from staff and clients until 6am, when I get my daughter ready for school. I then head for the office, where I have to be available to the team to review current projects, do client management, develop strategies and focus on all the key aspects of the business.”
Dambe believes women deserve more recognition in the industry. “The people doing most of the work are women, but those with the final say are men. There are far more females than males at any agency, but it’s the men who are usually the Creative Directors and who end up walking to the podium to collect awards.”
Her advise to people aspiring to enter the industry? “It’s not about being creative – it’s about passion. I define success as waking up every morning and loving what I do for a living.”