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Refilwe Maluleke, the MD of leading strategic marketing consultancy Yellowwood, has been promoted to the role of chief strategy officer at TBWA\SA, but will retain her leadership role at the consultancy. She takes on her extra responsibilities with immediate effect.

The classically trained marketer joined Yellowwood in 2016, after having spent the formative stages of her career at Unilever and SA Breweries.  

She has a high-performance mindset, driven by a passion for people and brands. Her experience across sub-Saharan Africa is vast, and she has a proven track record of delivery across multiple brands, and strong relationships with some of the best marketers and agencies in SA. 

Maluleke completed her MBA in London at the Cass Business School (now the Bayes Business School) and became MD at Yellowwood in 2018. Since then she has led the renaissance of an agency emerging from a legacy business to a future-facing organisation, ready to help clients confront and navigate change.

She has worked tirelessly to embed the potency of Yellowwood across the TBWA\ collective, while building new capabilities and attracting some of the industry’s best talent. Yellowwood’s growth in 2021 and its role in countless winning projects is evidence of this success. Being awarded as the most innovative brand consultancy on the continent by MEA Markets magazine is further endorsement of her work.

Yellowwood MD Refilwe Maluleke has been given the added responsiblity of chief strategy officer across TBWA\SA. Picture: SUPPLIED
Yellowwood MD Refilwe Maluleke has been given the added responsiblity of chief strategy officer across TBWA\SA. Picture: SUPPLIED

In Maluleke’s new role she will be responsible for driving strategic excellence across the group. She will partner with its regional and worldwide teams to ensure the full breadth of TBWA proprietary tooling is embedded across the collective in SA and across the continent. At the same time she will ensure she uses the available practical intelligence and support to ensure that Yellowwood remains at the sharp end of delivering impactful strategies for independent and group clients.

Her appointment is an important step on TBWA\SA’s journey to create greater organisational cohesion while protecting the strength and identity of each operating company. 

The organisation of both specialists and generalists embraces diversity in every sense, says TBWA\ group CEO Luca Gallarelli. 

“Refilwe has proven herself to be the epitome of an ‘and’ person: she is a client and an agency person; a strategist and a leader; a member of team Yellowwood and a leader in the TBWA collective. She is, in a word, a force. And I am delighted that she is our force.

“She is someone with deep specialisation and broad experience, allowing her to navigate the fullest complexity confronting our clients today,” says Gallarelli.  “I am delighted at the prospect of partnering with Refilwe in her expanded role as we seek to broaden her impact across our entire collective and client base.” 

Maluleke noted that being supported by the best strategy outfit available, with a vested interest in continually building strategic capability, was a position few chief strategy officers could enjoy in these times.  

“My intention ultimately is that combining the role of chief strategy officer with Yellowwood will benefit clients,” she says, believing the greater capacity will add strategic depth and boost the ability to align with the ambitions of businesses and brands.

This article was paid for by TBWA\SA.


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