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Publicis Groupe Africa welcomes its first female CEO

Publicis Groupe Africa (PGA) welcomes Koo Govender as its new Chief Executive Officer. As a stalwart of the industry, Govender will be leading the drive to empower Publicis to win in a platform world. She takes over from John Dixon, who led the group for five years and has now taken up the position of Chairman.

Govender will be responsible for driving the creative, media, PR and influencer, production, commerce, as well as data and technology practices for the Groupe in Africa under the 16 brands represented in the market.

While generating impact for clients remains a key responsibility, Govender is adamant that her position is rooted in one key driver. ‘Our greatest asset will always be the power of people. I am extremely fortunate to be in a position where I can help harness a collective potential that is unmatched in Africa and across the world. I will always put people first, and then the impact will surely follow. Without people there is no growth,’ she said.

As an accomplished, authentic and inspiring leader with over three decades of experience, Govender was the first female CEO of the VWV Group. She arrives at Publicis from her position as CEO of Dentsu South Africa where she was responsible for offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg as well as numerous specialist divisions and scaled services.

Accomplished businesswoman, media mogul, philanthropist and shareholder of PGA, Basetsana Kumalo was encouraged by the appointment of Koo Govender as PGA’s new CEO. ‘I see this as a significant step forward for not only transformation but for women in this industry. I could not think of a more impressive candidate on this continent to lead this business and the industry forward. This is a huge leap forward for African marketing as a movement of change and progress,’ said Basetsana.

Moving the needle forward in the communications industry has always pushed Govender to mould marketing into a space where women can thrive. ‘I am empowered and I know that my position allows me to do the same for so many women looking for a break in this male-dominated industry. This can only come from the top down where actions speak louder than words,’ Govender said.

As the leader of one of Africa’s largest communications groups, Govender’s credentials speak for themselves. She sits on various industry, NGO and business boards and has sat on the judging panel for the Cannes Lions Festival 2017, Loeries 2017, 2019 and 2022 awards, the AdFocus 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 Awards, 2022 Effie Awards as well the 2020, 2021 and 2022 Promax India, Asia, Australia and Africa Awards.

Govender lives by the philosophy: “success is one aspect and significance is of utmost importance”. She believes Africa is the next frontier of marketing innovation where success can quickly turn into significance given the right cohesive conditions.

‘I am grateful, excited and of course, inspired to begin this journey at Publicis. It’s time Africa took centre stage in the world of communications. I’m here to prove to the world that it’s our time to shine,’ Govender concluded.

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