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Cracking the Silke Bucker Code

Zama Khumalo

Imagine growing up in a small town named Bronkhorstspruit, your parents own a pub called, ‘Die Stoep’, Alcoholic beverages are one of the natural orders of the day and not realising that your everyday life is inline with your future.

People come and go but their excitement is a sentiment you share and throughly love. Years later…. BOOM! You are the Brand Director for Castle Lite Africa.

This is the life of Silke Bucker who has worked intensively and vigorously to get to the top and has proved why in fact she’s the best.

Working for Brands such as: Castle Lite, Carling Black Label and many others is not an easy task; You have positioned yourself to the youth and managed to remain relevant with the times. How do you ensure that brands remain relevant nor lose it’s flair towards your target audience?

“I make sure that I surround myself with the best people. I have a phenomenal team with different backgrounds and this enables us to deliver work that is relevant and enjoyable. No one in my team is alike and that is what makes us great,” she says.

Castle Unlocked is one of the biggest events that takes place annually in the country. What are the determining factors on which artists you bring in the country?

“This is probably the hardest decision we make every year but some of our guidelines are that it needs to be someone that is doing things differently yet unapologetic about what he/she is about and preferably someone that has not been here before.  Castle Lite is about innovation and doing things no one else can, so it is only natural that we want to partner with someone that has similar values to ours,” she mentions.

What do you feel has been your greatest achievement within your career?

“When I joined SAB 10 years ago, I set a goal to become a Brand Director on one of the most influential brands on our continent before I am 35. Every single hour I put into my job, no matter what that job title was, was with this in mind, and I reached this milestone 2 years ahead of schedule, she delightfully declares”.

What misconceptions have you often received in your line of work?

“My favourite is when I tell people I work for SAB and they ask: Oh are you a promo girl?. Within ABInbev the culture is about meritocracy. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you work hard and make an impact you will be rewarded. I find that it is more outside the organization that I am faced with disbelief and stereotypes”.

Being a woman in a male dominated industry is no child’s play and comes with a lot of criticism. How did you overcome general uncertainty yet remain headstrong in what you do?

That is what drove me, the need to prove people wrong that didn’t  believe in me and the need to prove people right who did.  My dad taught me that I should never get upset by people and what they say, instead I should focus on my goals and give them something to talk about.

Whether that is the disbelief proving you wrong or the pride that I amounted to what you thought and surpassed that “.

What was the thought process for the “Hip Hop Herstory”? Do you feel that we as a country are getting to a place femcees are finally getting the respect they deserve or we still have a long way to go?

“I believe that the world is changing and the platforms to make your mark are a lot more accessible than a couple of years back. Hip Hop Herstory was a passion project for us. We love Hip Hop and it was clear that there were some stories overlooked within a genre standing against oppression.

Having worked with some of the best artists on the continent, we know that women make up a big part of that group, and we wanted to create a platform where all stories can be told. It was not putting men against women, it was shining a light on the contribution women have made within Hip Hop and being proud of that,” she explains.

Your life story speaks of: student loans and taking  close to 10 years to pay off the debt which is a huge sacrifice young South Africans make towards their goals. What gave you the motivation to not give up on your dream and keep persisting on winning?

I have always wanted to be the best. I found being clear on what I wanted to do made it easier to sacrifice, financially and socially. I knew if I put in the time in my 20’s I will move further and faster than my peers in my 30’s. You have to understand what motivates you and fuel that to propel yourself forward. I want to be the best”.

Being Brand Director for a brand such as Castle Lite requires a lot of sacrifice, time and dedication hence your excellent career track record. How do you prioritize your time with loved ones yet focus on your work?

I have learned that keeping balance is essential to delivering great results. We all have different ways to recharge and it is important to know what you need in order to be your best self at work. I need to have moments where I am surrounded by  people who have been on this journey with me, where I can be vulnerable and know that they will pick me up. I make time for these moments…. That! And a strong training program and reading are my 3 escapes that make me a better and more holistic person at work,” she says.

What words of advice would you share with individuals who want to follow in your very footsteps and achieve the same goals?

Firstly, get to know yourself! What are your drivers, your blind spots and your strengths because self- awareness is a key that opens many doors. Secondly, Work Hard. Politics are everywhere and it is out of your control, but your outputs and achievements are yours and no one can ever take that away from you. Lastly, surround yourself with people better than you. Friends, mentors and team mates. Never be the smartest in the room and if you are, leave and find a more challenging room.”

What do you feel has been the greatest lesson within the setbacks you have faced? 

Only you can control the narrative of your life. What happens to you is out of your control, but how you respond to it, whether success or setback, is what sets you apart from other people,” says Bucker .

Silke Bucker seems to be ever evolving and with her being captain of this ship, all we can do is wait with anticipation as she continues to Unlock her Dreams before South Africa and the rest of the Globe.

 

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