Susan Napier’s sprawling office in Johannesburg is every inch the colorful and creative space it should be, with a large wooden desk, a collage of photographs, mostly of her two young daughters, and a balcony that boasts a panoramic view of the Wanderers Golf Club. In a white lace dress, this 41-year-old Marketing Director of Ireland/Davenport, one of South Africa’s biggest advertising agencies within the global WPP network, fits seamlessly into this setting. It’s easy to see she is in love: with her family and this job that is her world.
“I consider myself to be ridiculously fortunate,” says Napier. Growing up in Durban, she was taught the importance of values, ethics and hard work.
“Advertising is not for the faint-hearted. You need to have a tough skin…You have to have that ability to manage a million balls at the same time.” Ireland/Davenport works with high-profile brands such as BMW, Investec and Brand South Africa. Napier lets us peek into her world:
What thoughts have occupied your mind today?
We are in a strategic phase at Ireland/Davenport at the moment – it’s our 10th year of a business and while we have been incredibly fortunate to enjoy some wonderful success over the past decade, we want the next 10 years to be even more successful. So my thoughts are currently occupied with defining goals and objectives for the business for the immediate year ahead which will feed into a long-term strategy for the company. One that I hope will ensure Ireland/Davenport remains relevant, fresh and insightful both to our current and future clients. It’s all about future-proofing the agency and continuing to build on the solid foundations that have been laid over the past decade.
What would utopia be to you?
Finding the ever-elusive balance between my work and my personal life, where I am completely fulfilled as a working woman and in myself, while having the quality time with my beautiful daughters and husband.
Are women more creative than men?
Not at all! Creativity is innate and it manifests in so many different ways. I do however think women are more intuitive in general though which I believe does contribute enormously to exploring the many facets of creativity.
Your most lavish holiday?
Benguerra Island in Mozambique in 2008 [for my honeymoon]; total luxury and privacy, magnificent food and the man I love.
What do you fear?
Dying young and not being able to watch and help bring up my children.
If you were given only one day to live, what would you do?
Without doubt I would spend it with my husband and children. The day would be simple, but we would eat the best food, drink the perfect wine, truly talk to one another and we would love…a lot!