Investec’s Head of Sponsorships Peta Dixon is passionate about taking women’s sport to the next level, as she emphasizes on corporate giants backing women in sport.
Dixon has 19 years of expertise under her belt and has over the years helped athletes reach their goals.
She is heavily involved in managing all aspects of Investec sponsorships from inception to execution, and oversee all internal and external event activations.
Speaking on her favourite women’s sport projects, Dixon highlights working with the women’s national hockey team and golf, where prize money has increased in events like the Sunshine Ladies and the European Tour in Southern Africa.
Speaking to gsport’s Tlamelo Kganakga, Dixon shares insight into her personal journey and reveals her greatest career ambition.
Peta, thank you for chatting to us. Please tell us about yourself and where you are from.
I’m a female with a male name which can be confusing as people often expect to hear a male on the other end of the phone. Born and bred in Pretoria, my blood is blue – I’m a big Bulls fan. I’ve been at Investec for 19 years – all within marketing. I’m a mom, a daughter, a sister and an aunt. I’m a novice yogi, ex-runner, and now enjoy long walks, hikes, champagne and dark chocolate.
When and where did your love for sport begin and did you play?
From my dad, he is an all-round sports fan – especially the Sharks. He was Chairman of the Rally Commission of SA – so I grew up in the forests in Swaziland… motorsport, rugby, cycling and school sports was part of my childhood. Unfortunately, I never played sport (club or professional) after school. I used to run a lot, completing some ultra-marathons and many marathons.
Please tell us about your role as Head of Sponsorship at Investec?
It’s quite a varied role, but all aspects link and intertwine and cross over each other. Contract management and dealing with the legalese and rights, dealing with various federations, governing bodies, partners and vendors. A lot of finance management, budgets and planning and then the executions and leverage of the rights and activations to create Out of the Ordinary, memorable moments for all who participate, attend, support or even view content online.
I rely heavily on the skilled people I work with at Investec and through the agencies and suppliers we partner and engage with. Each a specialist in their own area gives me a huge advantage – allowing me to focus on oversight of skills, expertise and experience.
Please share some of your favourite women’s sport projects that you have worked on.
Working on women’s hockey was so rewarding. We leveraged the sponsorship from the national team right into school level. We met such talented players and even had a sports scholarship for a few years. We managed to ‘wrap our arms’ around the sporting code, and also linked in with our UK team who sponsored the UK women’s hockey – creating magical moments and opportunities.
The growth we have seen and achieved in women’s golf has been tremendous. Being part of something so special and seeing the impact you can make is an incredible experience. We have steadily increased the prize purse and added incentives, while also raising the status of the tournament, now the premier tournament on the Sunshine Ladies and European Tour circuit in Southern Africa. We are giving so many women professionals the opportunity to play and perform and earn well. A national open is the flagship event of a nation, and it should have a committed sponsor who wants to stay the course and look for ways to keep elevating the status of the championship. We have a large golf portfolio, six consecutive years as the title sponsor of the Investec SA Women’s Open, the Investec Order of Merit and more recently, the Investec Homegrown Award, along with our sponsored golfers. In 2022, we added in the title sponsorship of the Investec SA Open Championship. Addressing transformation in golf, we are a proud patron of the Papwa Sewgolum Class.
What challenges do you face and how do you overcome them?
We face challenges daily. The key is to always deliver consistently. To be tenacious, and deliberate. You can never communicate enough. Think differently, focus and be present. The team around you are your greatest allies, you achieve very little alone. Celebrate the small wins, deal with and get over the mistakes, and most importantly have fun.
What are some of your career highlights to date?
Our rugby sponsorship and working with the New Zealand Rugby Union. In 2019, we created a client competition to go and watch the South Africa vs New Zealand game in Wellington and we won (SA16 – NZ16). We were there in the stands – what a proud moment. Not a win – a draw but it felt like we won. When Elton Janjties scored a try in the final minute the stadium went wild. We took Victor Matfield, Cindy Poluta and Maps Maponyane with us and our clients and their spouses. We all met the players, created content, watched the Captains Run and the cherry on top, we walked around the field in front of fans like famous people – sidelines for the HAKA – unbelievable memories.
Working on women’s golf continues to be a highlight.
Why is it important for women to take up sponsorship roles in sport?
Understanding the value of equality and the power of female influence is something we could all benefit from – in the industry and business at large. Women should support women. We should– straighten each other’s crowns and celebrate our successes in business, never losing our femininity or the multiplier effect women create – individuals, care givers, partners – we view the world differently through different lenses and add so much richness to the conversation.
Women athletes are searching for financial backing. What do you think needs to be done to promote sponsoring women athletes and where do you want to see it progressing?
It’s an exciting time to be in women’s sport. Whether you’re a player, sponsor or fan 2022 proved to be a watershed year and the momentum continues into 2023. We’ve seen a monumental step forward in pay parity for women’s sport globally.
We’d like to see business in South Africa rallying behind women’s sport, not just golf but to really grow the numbers and see more women have an opportunity to excel locally and at an international level. We would like to see other sponsors join us in elevating women’s sport in South Africa. Why would you not want to be part of this movement and narrative of change?
Golf poses the same challenges to female and male players and female players should be equally celebrated and rewarded. Female golfers want to be able to earn enough to compete and show that they have the talent to attract more investment into the game. Once there is a mass movement behind women’s sport then we can see them being paid the same, but there is a lot still to do.
A significant contributor to the rise in financial support relates to the expanded coverage the sport now receives via mainstream broadcasters.
TV coverage propels the women’s game forward by providing exposure to players and sponsors. It also allows youngsters to see what’s possible if you work hard and compete well.
Are you also a golf commentator?
No, definitely not a commentator. I have done a few interviews and been in studio with SuperSport over our live coverage days. I’d like to think my passion for women’s golf comes alive in these interviews and encourages people to spectate, participate and celebrate women’s golf. We have a long-standing history in golf as far back as 2008, (I’ve been with Investec since 2004). Women’s golf has always been in the mix and I’ve been very fortunate to work on or alongside golf for many years.
What’s your greatest career ambition?
To make a difference, to leave a legacy, to have positively impacted people along the way. For people to remember how we made them feel.
What’s your advice to women who aspire to be in sport, especially in the sponsorship space?
I have to quote Nelson Mandela on this one …
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”
Why would not want to be part of this narrative?
If this is your dream – go for it. Nothing stands in your way. Work hard, show up and be part of the change.