Heather Noble: “The Partnership Helps Raise the Visibility of Women’s Sport”

Photo Caption: Momentum Metropolitan Holdings’ Head of Brand & Marketing Heather Noble is a passionate, determined and goal-oriented business professional, with a commendable career in the FMCG, OTC and Pharmaceutical industries. Photo: Supplied

Momentum Metropolitan Holdings’ Head of Brand & Marketing Heather Noble is a passionate, determined and goal-oriented business professional with a commendable career in the FMCG, OTC and Pharmaceutical industries – who leads by example.

On her LinkedIn profile, Noble describes herself as a creative, who is dynamic in approach and thrives on challenges.

Over the years and with extensive knowledge and experience under her belt, Noble has been tasked with the challenge of leading the brand and marketing side of Momentum, while in July 2022, she took on the role of Lead: Sponsorships & Events, in an acting capacity.

Working alongside an impeccable team, Noble has been able to dismantle barriers as Momentum thrive on women empowerment in the corporate space.

As we are well underway in our 2023 Momentum gsport Awards campaign, we found it fitting to learn more about Noble and her journey to the corporate giants.

gsport Content Lead Celine Abrahams finds out more about Noble’s career to date…

Heather, thank you for taking time out for us! For the benefit of our readers, please introduce yourself and your role at Momentum.

I’m Heather Noble, Head of Brand & Marketing for Momentum Metropolitan Holdings. In addition, in July 2022, I took on the role of Lead: Sponsorships & Events, in an acting capacity. 

Please take us through your journey and where it all started for you in corporate.

I’m a chemist and a marketer by training, a weird combination, I know… After spending a year or so in laboratories, I realised that it did not bring me the fulfillment and richness that my curious nature and deep interest in human behaviour needed. I moved into sales, and studied marketing, and found my heartland. I spent about 10 years in the pharmaceutical industry, where I took on my first executive role, as one of two women in a boardroom full of men. To succeed, I thought at the time, I had to become more like a man, and worked hard at it. However, I then realised that women have a powerful role to play in the boardroom, and that they have the most impact and value when they take up and own their space as authentically who they are, women; bringing perspectives and leadership styles that come naturally to us because we’re built differently.

A merger gave me itchy feet and I moved into the alcohol industry to explore a different kind of marketing, employee marketing. Whilst it was deeply satisfying, I missed the thrill of chasing the numbers, and more importantly influencing society at large, with the consumer at the centre. The time I spent at a startup was the most exhilarating ride of my life. Every day was completely different, the pace was off the charts, and the impact we had across Africa was rewarding.

The startup was acquired by Momentum Metropolitan, and as a consequence, my life at MMH began. My roles up to now have been in strategic and executive spaces, and the magic is that I have the privilege to be involved in many diverse and complex projects and campaigns, including making an active contribution to the advancement of gender equality for women.

You have worked in various industries in your career – what are some of your highlights in terms of projects that you have worked on?

I am energised by firsts, and will actively seek out opportunities that take us to new places beyond the norm. In the pharmaceutical industry three things jump to mind immediately; getting a product to market in 6 months vs 12, by skillful interpretation of regulations; hitting the business’s strategic goal of 8% increase in sales, 2 years ahead of time; and being the prototype for setting up a successful specialist sales force. When I was in the alcohol industry, my team won the Marketing Brilliance Awards for Africa AND Globally. In the startup space, a highlight was personally running research in an Africa market; and successfully launching a new to the world service solution. More recently, the name change of our organisation, a very complex and layered project impacting the entire business, and where errors of any kind or misalignment on timelines were just not acceptable, we completed 3 months ahead of the agreed deadline.

I could cite a few more, however the biggest highlight in my career is growing leaders, and watching them occupy executive roles in varying industries, both locally and internationally. Witnessing the growth, progress, and achievements of those I have mentored and guided is a source of immense joy and satisfaction. Knowing that I have played a part in shaping their professional trajectories, empowering them to overcome challenges, and helping them unlock their true potential, fills me with a sense of purpose and gratitude.

At Momentum, your role allows you an opportunity to contribute to the empowerment of women. What are you enjoying most about your current journey?

The opportunity to be part of initiatives that strive to dismantle barriers, challenge societal norms, and empower women is truly inspiring. Each endeavour allows me to witness the transformative impact of our collective efforts, as we work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable world for all.

It is a profound joy to contribute to these efforts, knowing that we are making a positive difference in the lives of women and shaping a brighter future for generations to come.

When you take the gsport and Momentum partnership into consideration, why do you think it is important for these two brands to align?

We are for women. Their journey to success, on the field and off. Some of the benefits, I see are:

Increased Visibility: The partnership helps raise the visibility of women’s sport and female athletes. By highlighting their achievements and sharing their stories, it inspires and motivates other girls and women to participate in sports, challenging gender stereotypes and promoting inclusivity.

Empowerment and Recognition: The partnership empowers girls and women by providing them with a platform to showcase their talents and achievements. It recognises their hard work, dedication, and contribution to sports, fostering a sense of pride and self-confidence among female athletes.

Advocacy for Gender Equality: The collaboration between gsport for girls and Momentum advocates for gender equality in sports. It creates awareness about the existing gender disparities, challenges, and barriers faced by women in the sports industry. Through our joint efforts, we work towards creating a more equitable and inclusive environment for female athletes.

Development and Support: The partnership focuses on supporting and nurturing young talent through various development programs, mentorship opportunities, and financial assistance. It helps in building a strong pipeline of female athletes and provides them with the resources and support they need to excel in their respective sports.

Community Engagement: The collaboration extends beyond sports and engages with the wider community. It promotes sports participation among girls and women at various levels, encourages active lifestyles, and highlights the numerous benefits of sports for physical and mental well-being.

Inspiring Role Models: By sharing the stories of successful female athletes and leaders in sports, the partnership offers inspiring role models for girls and women to look up to. These role models provide motivation, encouragement, and guidance, inspiring the next generation of female athletes to dream big and pursue their sporting aspirations.

Overall, the partnership between gsport for girls and Momentum brings positive change to the landscape of women’s sport, empowering girls and women, promoting gender equality, and creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for female athletes.

Momentum recently announced a sponsorship extension of the Proteas Women’s team, as well as the SA U19 side. As a brand, why is so important for you to give back, especially in women’s sport?

There is a great difference between the investment behind men and women’s sports. Men enjoy sponsorship from an array of brands and institutions, while women only get a minute percentage of that.  This gap impacts the amount of women who can pursue sports as a viable career choice, the facilities and resources that would be available to them to improve their game, and the exposure they get from the media. Momentum continuing the support sponsorship is driven by the commitment to see this gap closed and making sports a lucrative career for women and young girls.

From your observation, what can be done to raise the profile of women’s sport in South Africa and how can corporates play a bigger role?

Increase Media Coverage: Media plays a crucial role in promoting women’s sport. Encourage media owners to provide more coverage of women’s sports events, competitions, and achievements. This can be achieved through dedicated segments, highlight reels, interviews, and feature articles.

Sponsorship and Investment: Corporates can invest in women’s sports by providing financial support, sponsorships, and endorsements. This enables women’s sports teams and individual athletes to access resources, training facilities, equipment, and professional development opportunities.

Partnerships with Sporting Bodies: Corporates can collaborate with sporting bodies and federations to support initiatives that promote women’s sport. This includes developing grassroots programs, providing coaching and mentoring support, organising tournaments and leagues, and offering scholarships or bursaries for aspiring female athletes.

Marketing and Promotion: Corporates can incorporate women’s sports in their marketing and advertising campaigns, where relevant. By featuring female athletes as ambassadors and role models, they can increase visibility and inspire others to engage with women’s sports.

Corporate Sporting Events: Encourage corporates to organise and sponsor women’s sporting events and competitions. This creates platforms for female athletes to showcase their skills and talents, while also attracting attention from a wider audience.

Employee Engagement: Companies can foster a supportive environment for women’s sport within their organisations. This can include organizing internal sports leagues, fitness challenges, or wellness programs that promote women’s participation in physical activities.

Collaboration and Advocacy: Encourage corporates to collaborate with organisations and initiatives that champion women’s sports. By leveraging their networks, resources, and influence, they can advocate for increased investment, equal opportunities, and increased recognition for women in sports.

Education and Awareness: Promote education and awareness campaigns that challenge gender stereotypes and biases surrounding women’s sports. This can be achieved through workshops, seminars, and media campaigns that highlight the importance of gender equality in sports and the positive impact of women’s participation.

By implementing these strategies, corporates can make a significant contribution to raising the profile of women’s sport in South Africa. Their involvement can help drive systemic change, increase investment, and create a more inclusive sporting landscape for women, ultimately inspiring future generations of female athletes.

What is your advice to women in sport about attracting personal corporate support?

Attracting personal corporate support requires perseverance and a well-articulated value proposition and strong personal brand.

By building your personal brand, understanding potential sponsors, and showcasing the benefits of partnering with you, you can increase your chances of securing corporate support and further your career in sport.

What makes a good brand ambassador?

A good brand ambassador possesses certain qualities and characteristics that enable them to effectively represent and promote a brand. Here are some key attributes that make a good brand ambassador:

Authenticity: A good brand ambassador genuinely believes in the brand and its values. They align with the brand’s mission and can authentically convey its message to others.

Knowledgeable: A brand ambassador should have a deep understanding of the brand, its solutions or services, and its target audience. They should be well-informed about the brand’s unique selling points, competitive advantages, and key messaging points. This enables them to engage in meaningful conversations and address inquiries or concerns from potential clients.

Strong Communication Skills: They should be able to articulate the brand’s message clearly and engage with diverse audiences, whether through public speaking, social media, or interpersonal interactions.

Positive Attitude and Enthusiasm: A good brand ambassador exudes positivity and enthusiasm for the brand. They are passionate about what they represent and can create excitement around the brand through their energy and conduct.

Reliability and Professionalism: Brand ambassadors should be reliable and professional in their conduct. They honour commitments, meet deadlines, and maintain a high level of professionalism in their interactions with stakeholders. Their reliability builds trust and confidence in the brand.

Strong Social Media Presence: In this digital age, a strong social media presence is essential for brand ambassadors. They should have a solid understanding of social media platforms, be good at creating engaging content, and have a substantial following or influence within their and the brand’s target audience.

Relationship Building Skills: Brand ambassadors should have strong interpersonal skills and the ability to build relationships with clients, stakeholders, and the brand’s community. They are approachable, listen actively, and foster connections that contribute to brand loyalty and advocacy.

Results-Oriented: A good brand ambassador focuses on achieving measurable results for the brand. They set goals, track progress, and continually seek opportunities to enhance brand visibility and generate positive outcomes.

Ethical Conduct: Brand ambassadors should uphold ethical standards and represent the brand in a responsible and respectful manner. They act with integrity, adhere to brand guidelines, and prioritise the long-term reputation and success of the brand.

By embodying these qualities, a good brand ambassador becomes a trusted advocate who can effectively communicate the brand’s message, build strong relationships, and contribute to the brand’s overall success.

Who are some of your role models and what have you learnt from them?

The people who have inspired me and influenced the who I am in this life and world are:

Leonardo da Vinci: Whilst primarily known as an artist, he was a prolific inventor and visionary. When I think of the future, or in the midst of solving a challenge, I prefer to start with a blank canvas and create alternate scenarios, and possible outcomes, so the solution will be as right as it can be, with the information I have. This often needs me to combine the artist and dreamer in me, with the analyst and thinker.

My parents (and Oprah Winfrey): With much love and care, they consistently pushed me to be the very best I could be, in a loop based on continuous improvement. Today, I thank them for their deep and genuine belief in “good is never good enough” and finding the reserve tank when you realise you’re not done yet.

One of my leaders: If you tap into your own or ignite someone else’s passion, it provokes motivation, drive, and dedication. When you are passionate about something, it brings you joy, fulfilment, and a sense of purpose. It drives commitment, perseverance, and a willingness to invest time, energy, and effort into what you set your sights on.

From your experience, how can we build strong women role models?

Building strong women role models needs an environment that nurtures and supports women’s empowerment and development.

Mentorship and Support: Establish mentorship programs that connect women with experienced professionals who can guide, inspire, and support them in their personal and professional growth.

Visibility and Representation: Increase the visibility and representation of women in leadership positions, influential roles, and in diverse fields. This includes promoting women’s achievements and contributions in media, highlighting their stories, and showcasing their expertise to inspire others.

Encourage Ambition and Confidence: Foster a culture that encourages ambition, self-belief, and confidence in women. Provide platforms for women to express their ideas, take on leadership roles, and participate in decision-making processes. Create safe spaces for them to explore their potential and take risks.

Celebrate Achievements: Recognise and celebrate the achievements and successes of women at all levels. Acknowledge their contributions and the impact they make in their respective fields, help inspire others and reinforce the idea that women can excel and be role models in different domains.

Break Stereotypes and Bias: Challenge and break down stereotypes, biases, and gender-based expectations that limit women’s potential. Encourage individuals and organisations to confront and address unconscious biases and promote equality, fairness, and inclusivity.

Foster Supportive Networks: Create networks and communities that provide support, encouragement, and networking opportunities for women. These networks offer a platform for women to connect, collaborate, and share experiences, fostering a sense of solidarity and support.

Empowerment Programs and Initiatives: Implement programs that specifically focus on women’s empowerment, providing resources, training, and mentorship opportunities. These initiatives help women build skills, gain confidence, and overcome barriers that may hinder their progress.

Promote Work-Life Balance: Foster a culture that supports work-life balance and flexibility, enabling women to pursue their careers while also fulfilling personal and family responsibilities.

Encourage Self-Care and Well-being: Emphasise the importance of self-care, well-being, and mental health for women. Promote practices that prioritise self-care and emphasise the value of holistic well-being in their personal and professional lives.

By implementing these approaches, we can create an environment that empowers women, builds their confidence, and provides them with the tools and opportunities to become strong role models for future generations.

Lastly, what else would you like to tick off your goal list?

I’d like to continue promoting gender equality at every level, whether personal or professional. My dream is to help small businesses grow and become more successful, by providing my expertise free of charge, and linking in some of the wonderful people I’ve met over the last 25 years; and if these businesses are women owned, so much the better!

I’d love to walk the Camino de Santiago one day; the Camino Frances route, that begins in Saint Jean Pied de Port, in France. The route is 763.5 kilometres long and is generally carried out in 33 stages of approximately 20 or 25 kilometres each. This route runs through the interior of the north of the Iberian Peninsula, crossing 8 Spanish provinces.

Photo Caption: Momentum Metropolitan Holdings’ Head of Brand & Marketing Heather Noble is a passionate, determined and goal-oriented business professional, with a commendable career in the FMCG, OTC and Pharmaceutical industries. Photo: Supplied

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